The battle for the distinguished New York Yankee’s centerfield position was won by Brett Gardner after he and Melky Cabrera both had solid springs. Both will be in the Bronx for the start of the season and Melky will provide a switch-hitting spark off the bench and could be utilized defensively late in games.
Melky had a tough season in ’08. After showing power early, Cabrera fell off offensively which led to the emergence of Gardner. Gardner did absolutely nothing in his first trip up to the big club. His patience at the plate didn’t get much respect from Major League umpires or pitchers, and he took many a looking K. He saw better success when he came up at the end of the season, though still ending up with an anemic .228 average.
Gardner’s three homers in the spring also came as a pleasant surprise for Girardi. If Gardner can stay in the lineup, he may even be a good fantasy acquisition. In limited time last season he was 13 of 14 in stolen base attempts, and his .448 obp this spring shows he is finally getting a feel for the major league zone. If he can keep getting on, Girardi will send him. It is a big if, though.
In news that proves that most of spring training is useless,
“I’ve been encouraged, I know actually he’s got some errors, but I think on both ends of it he’s getting a little tougher and not letting it affect him as much.” That’s Bob Melvin speaking of “The Sheriff” Mark Reynolds and his seven errors in limited time at third base in nineteen games. The Dbacks are also encouraged by the fact that Reynolds, a rising star when it comes to the three true outcomes, is only striking out 28% of the time this spring as opposed to around 40% of the time last season. So Jack Cust and Russell Branyan no longer have to worry about losing their 3TO crowns.