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Granderson performs well in 2010 debut in leftfield

New York Yankees' Curtis Granderson stretches before a

New York Yankees' Curtis Granderson stretches before a spring training baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. (March 8, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

TAMPA, Fla. - Curtis Granderson got his first taste of leftfield as a Yankee yesterday.

Finally.

Though much has been made of where Granderson will end up - either centerfield or leftfield - he had not appeared anywhere other than centerfield in the first nine exhibition games.

Until yesterday.

On a day with plenty of sun and wind, Granderson handled the three chances he had in left. He was subbed out of the game in the top of the eighth inning and left the clubhouse before reporters were let in, but Joe Girardi said everything looked fine from his perspective. "He looked good," he said.

Girardi's primary focus is how Granderson - who is wearing contact lenses for the first time - reads the ball off the bat.

"I want to see how he reacts to balls in left because it's a different angle now ," Girardi said Friday. "That ball's going to go somewhat of a different way, so you want to see how he reacts."

Granderson was tested in the top of the third when Nick Markakis lifted a short fly down the line. He got a good jump on the ball and, running full speed, made a basket catch along the foul line.

Miguel Tejada followed with a fairly routine fly that Granderson had to drift back just a few steps to catch. In the fifth, Granderson put away another routine fly, this one by Cesar Izturis.

"That was a tough wind and sun day," Girardi said. "It wasn't an easy day to play leftfield, so I thought he looked good."

Earlier in spring training, Granderson said Girardi placed a call shortly after the outfielder was acquired and floated the idea of a position switch.

"He called and asked, hey, how do you feel about that, and be honest with me if you don't [want to]. Let me know,'' Granderson said. "I said I'm able to do that and/or move up and down the lineup. I've batted every spot pretty much, except for the third spot. So I have no problem moving, switching, bouncing around wherever it happens to be.''

Said Girardi: "It makes it real easy when you have players willing to do anything you ask. That's a manager's dream."

Granderson, who hit fifth Saturday but whose position in the batting order hasn't been determined, has played the majority of his career in center, but he's been quick to point out that left isn't foreign territory. He has limited experience in left, parts of 22 big-league games (only three starts), but in his earlier baseball years, it was where he played most of the time.

"I have no problem doing it,'' Granderson said. "People forget that I came up as a leftfielder, in the minor leagues all the way up until Double-A. I didn't start playing centerfield consistently until my second year in the minors. And even when I came to the big leagues, I played a few games in left . . . I have no problems going back over there if it happens to be.''

Girardi said he wanted Granderson, a veteran who still is adjusting to a new team, to be in his most comfortable position at the start of camp. He expects more flip-flopping between Granderson and Brett Gardner in left and center in the coming weeks.

"We'll mix him in and out," Girardi said. "We'll mix them both in and out."

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