This was how the Yankees lineup shaped out today before the Spring Training finale was rained out:
If you switch the positions between Beltran and Soriano, that would be your 2014 Opening Day Lineup.
Now, before the season began, there was a lot of speculation as to where Brett Gardner would hit in the order. Most assumed he would hit in the 9th spot to give the Yankees the double lead-off effect or probably second to have Gardner and Ellsbury back to back, but when Girardi put him seventh in the order for today’s game, it caused some confusion–until Girardi explained why.
“He’s a guy that we feel we could hit anywhere in the top or anywhere down to give some speed,” Girardi said. “He had a pretty good year offensively last year, and that’s where we decided to put him.”
Gardner had 51 extra base-hits in 2013, so when Girardi placed him a bit higher than expected in the order and explained his reasoning, everything made sense. He likes Gardner’s versatility in the lineup–he could be a lead-off man, he could hit second or he could hit anywhere from fifth to ninth. His bat and his speed changes the dynamics of the lineup which gives Girardi some freedom as to where he wants Gardner to go.
He couldn’t say that about other players last season when he was missing his shortstop, his left fielder (Curtis Granderson) and his first baseman (Teixeira). He can now say the Yankees have some freedom with the lineup, considering everyone is healthy and should be productive once Tuesday rolls around.
“Last year we left, we were missing the middle of our order, the end of our order, the top of our order,” Girardi said. “This year we leave with pretty much everyone in our order that we expected to be there. I think it was a very productive spring. I thought it was a very competitive spring. I really liked what I saw from our team. I do. I feel good about it.”