This writer has had a lot of fun in the past six weeks or so writing the Brett Gardner Daily Update Series which was mostly satire. As with any satire there has to be an element of truth involved, but it was mostly satire.
Now there is something real to write about. The New York Yankees are playing games, even if they are Spring Training games and Brett Gardner is being given every chance to prove he can be an every day player in the major leagues. This is something he has yet to prove.
There has never been a serious issue about his ability to play in the field. He does not have a great arm, but his speed allows him to cover more ground than almost any other outfielder in the American League with the possible exception of a couple guys named Crawford and Upton for the Rays and Jacoby Elsbury in Boston.
So the issue for Gardner is whether he can hit.
In both at bats he grounded weakly to the third baseman and was out at first. In the second at bat he made the play fairly close at first with his blazing speed, but he was still out.
To this observer, he did not look good in either one of those appearances, slapping at the ball rather than hitting it on a line. That was the case too much of the time in 2009 as well.
In yesterday's came against the Phillies, Gardner again failed to get a hit.
In his final at bat with Eduardo Nunez on first base, Gardner attempted to bunt. It was not clear whether this was something he was doing on his own or he had been told to sacrifice.
But Gardner bunted a ball that went no more than eighteen inches from home plate.
It looked as though he had dropped the ball into a bowl of thirty minute jello. It just sat there. The Philly catcher picked the ball up and easily threw Nunez out at second.
In previous articles, this writer joked about all the extra bunting practice Gardner was taking in the off season.
It turned out that Gardner was in fact working hard on his bunting as he told writers when he arrived at camp.
As of yesterday, it looked like he needed more practice.
Last year Gardner was excellent in Spring Training and was awarded the starting job in center field. He lost it to Melky Cabrera when he could not hit.
This year, GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi have both said it makes no sense to put Gardner in center field unless he can prove he can play every day.
As of right now, Curtis Granderson is the Yankee center fielder and unless Brett Gardner proves he can hit, Granderson will remain in center and Gardner is going to have to fight off Randy Winn, Jamie Hoffman and Marcus Thames to even get some playing time in left.
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