Brett Gardner had a really good year for the Yankees in 2010, but he could have had a much better year if he didn’t tank in the second half last year.
Gardner had an impressive .811 OPS in the first half last year, but a wrist injury limited him to just a .698 OPS after the All-Star game. He had surgery to repair his wrist this offseason and so far everything seems to be going well. Gardner fully expects to be ready for opening day.
Gardner spoke with Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York. He confirmed that the injury did play a part of his poor second half numbers. He also said it caused him to begin his offseason workouts late because he didn’t want to suffer any setbacks. He’s the only non-pitcher or catcher in the major league camp right now, but once everyone else gets there he should be good to go.
This is good to hear. Derek Jeter is expected to be the leadoff hitter this year, but Jeter struggled last year and if he continues to struggle in 2011 Gardner could be replacing him in the leadoff spot. Either way though, Gardner is expected to play a big role for the Yankees. With two good outfielders available, Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth, the Yankees never expressed real interest in either because they presumably feel comfortable with Gardner.
If Gardner can produce at least a .300 average with exceptional defense and a few stolen bases that will go a long way in helping the Yankees generate and save a lot of runs. Hopefully this injury doesn’t linger and hinder all of that.