ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Joe Girardi said those who want Carlos Beltran to play far fewer games in rightfield and significantly more at DH are suffering from amnesia.
“I think people have all of a sudden forgotten that Carlos hit really well the last [five] months of the season playing rightfield last year,” Girardi said.
Indeed, after posting a .162/.216/.265 slash line the first month of 2015 — with zero homers and seven RBIs — Beltran had a .295/.357/.505 slash line with 19 homers and 60 RBIs in 115 games the rest of the way.
But the numbers this season, at least early, are striking.
Entering Friday night’s game, in which Beltran was back in rightfield for a second straight game, the 39-year-old had a .322/.344/.780 slash line in 64 plate appearances as a DH and a .236/.268/.377 slash line in 112 plate appearances as a rightfielder.
Beltran built most of those numbers at DH while Alex Rodriguez was on the disabled list. A-Rod returned Thursday and Beltran promptly went 0-for-4. (As Girardi pointed out Thursday, he also was 0-for-4 the night before as the DH).
“You’re not talking about a huge sample size, you’re not talking about a year or two years,” Girardi said. “And I understand why I’m going to be asked about it every day, and if he goes 0-fer, it’s going to be because he didn’t DH, but he did pretty good in rightfield too.”
There’s also the notion — scouts would say it’s fact — that the Yankees are better defensively with the more athletic Aaron Hicks, who also has a superior arm, in rightfield.
Girardi didn’t outright dismiss that premise — he does, after all, often replace Beltran with Hicks late in close games — but said things won’t change much.
“This team was built, when we started this year, for Alex to DH and Carlos to play rightfield,” Girardi said. “Alex was swinging the bat really well before he got hurt and I think it’s way too quick to abandon what we were seeing.”
Mark Teixeira, who had a cortisone shot in his neck Thursday, said he didn’t feel any better Friday. It typically takes a couple of days for the shot to kick in, and he said he hopes to return Sunday.