Brett Gardner Daily Update: March 8, 2010

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Brett Gardner Daily Update: March 8, 2010
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The New York Yankees lost a spring training game to the Minnesota Twins yesterday, 11-0.

Brett Gardner started and got one hit in three times at bat.

His hit came on a bunt. The bunt was fielded by the pitcher, whose throw pulled the first baseman off the bag.

Gardner's speed was the critical element in the play because the pitcher had no time to make an accurate throw with Gardner speeding down the line.

Today, on the New York Yankees' home page and in the New York Daily News, there were articles about Gardner battling for a job in the Yankee outfield for the second season in a row.

Last year, Gardner won the job in spring training. But when he got off to a slow start once the real games began, Gardner was soon riding the pine, and Melky Cabrera was the regular center fielder again.

But now Gardner is in a fight with Randy Winn to see who plays as the regular left fielder. If Gardner can prove he can hit enough to stay in the lineup, he may in fact play in center with Curtis Granderson moving to left.

But Gardner has to be able to hit. The team will not move Granderson around if Gardner ends up platooning with Winn.

One interesting aspect of both articles about Gardner was the emphasis that he has placed on bunting.

Gardner was quoted as saying he had really worked hard on his bunting and that it could allow him to get on base more, where he could "terrorize" opposing pitchers with his speed.

This writer spoofed Gardner bunting to get on base in pieces written in January this year. But that was satire. That was humor. That was intended to get laughs.

Apparently Gardner and the Yankees are serious about having Gardner bunt a lot more this season.

But if Gardner cannot prove that he can hit to get on base, bunting to get on base is never going to work.

Bunting is a situational strategy. The setup has to be right for the bunt to work, or it must be an element of surprise.

If Gardner can show that he can slash the ball all over the field and keep the third baseman honest, he will get some base hits bunting.

On the other hand, if the other team believes Gardner cannot get on base conventionally, they are going to play hit tight at the corners and dare him to bunt. In those situations bunting will not work.

Envision, if you can, the 1976 World Series when the Yankees faced the Reds. Mickey Rivers was the leadoff man for the Yanks and had great speed.

Pete Rose was playing third base for the Reds, and he completely neutralized Rivers by playing him about halfway down the line and daring him to bunt or to try to slash the ball by Rose.

Rivers did nothing in the Series, and the Reds swept the Bombers in four games.

It is incredible if Gardner is really pinning his hopes of breaking the starting lineup on bunting.

If this is real, the Yankees had better be planning on Winn or Marcus Thames or Jamie Hoffmann or Colin Curtis or Chad Curtis starting in left field.

Because if Gardner's plans for success hinge on bunting, this is the same kind of sad joke I wrote about two months ago.

Only this time there is nothing funny about it.

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