After missing all but eight of the team's first 107 games this season, Curtis Granderson finally returned to action for the New York Yankees on Friday night in the opening game of the team's three-game series against the San Diego Padres.
In case you missed it, Curtis Granderson was activated. Melky Mesa sent to Triple-A and Thomas Neal designated for assignment.— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) August 3, 2013
Joe Girardi wasted little time getting his slugger back into the lineup, batting him fifth and giving him the start in left field over Alfonso Soriano.
His anticipated return was a major reason the Yankees didn't ardently pursue another powerful outfield bat as the trade deadline neared other than Soriano, as only two players in baseball drove in more runs than Granderson did from 2011 to 2012:
That kind of production doesn't normally become available on the trade market, and it certainly wasn't available this year.
So how did the Grandyman fare in his first game back?
Well, he looked like a guy who hadn't faced major league pitching since May 24.
San Diego starter Andrew Cashner needed only four pitches to strike Granderson out in the bottom of the first inning, and after working the count to 0-and-2 on him to start the fourth inning, Cashner induced a ground ball back to the mound to record the out at first base.
Two innings, seven pitches. To say that Granderson was impatient in the early going would be an understatement.
But in the top of the sixth inning he started to settle down, making Cashner work in his third at-bat of the game.
With two outs, a 3-and-2 count and Lyle Overbay on first base, Granderson hit a screaming line drive...right to Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso, who made the catch and stepped on first base to double up Overbay, who was powerless to stop the Padres from turning two.
Will Curtis Granderson's return be enough to get the Yankees into the playoffs?
That's not the outcome that either Granderson or the Yankees wanted to see, but that he made solid contact was an improvement from earlier in the game to be sure.
In the top of the ninth inning, with the Padres ahead 7-2 and two outs, Alonso hit a shot into the left-center field gap off of Yankees reliever Adam Warren. Granderson played the ball but bobbled it momentarily, so Alonso turned the corner, looking to stretch his single into a double.
That wasn't a wise decision, as Granderson's throw, which bounced two or three times before reaching Robinson Cano at second base, arrived in plenty of time to beat the Padres first baseman to the bag, ending the inning.
In the bottom half of the ninth, Granderson got out in front of a Tim Stauffer offering and struck out for the second time, looking foolish in the process. His final batting line on the night: 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and a double play.
While the Yankees were obviously hoping that he'd be able to contribute to the team's offense, it was his first game back. When you consider that he missed almost all of spring training and has barely faced major league pitching at all this year, rust is to be expected—and it's going to take him a few games to get back into the swing of things (no pun intended).
He was solid defensively, and his assist to nail Alonso at second base was the highlight of his evening.
The most important thing, however, is that Granderson escaped the game unscathed—and he'll be back to try again tomorrow.
In a season full of devastating injuries, that has to be viewed in a positive light, both by Granderson and the team.
Overall Grade: C-minus
*Unless otherwise noted, all statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.