The New York Yankees could make an All-Star team with the number of starters who have been on the DL this season. The list includes: Michael Pineda, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson.
Add Brett Gardner’s name to that list.
Gardner had to leave the game in the first inning of Thursday night’s 6-5 win against the Baltimore Orioles after straining his oblique in his first at-bat. As it turns out, his season may be over. This could not have happened at a worse time for the Yankees as they head to Beantown for a three-game set against the Boston Red Sox with a Wild Card berth on the line.
Though Robinson Cano is the unquestioned offensive leader of the club, Gardner too made a huge impact in the leadoff spot.
Gardner leads the Yankees in doubles (33), triples (10) and stolen bases (24); he is second on the team in hits (147), and he has come through in the clutch, batting .356 with RISP, second in the AL behind Miguel Cabrera. He has also played solid defense, hawking balls out in center field with a solid arm to boot.
With Gardner out, Granderson will take over as the full-time center fielder and Ichiro Suzuki will play right field. Vernon Wells, too, will see much more playing time.
But the injury leaves a tremendous hole in the batting order. Ichiro will bat first in Gardner’s absence. Though he’s a surefire Hall-of-Famer, Ichiro isn’t the player that he used to be. He’s batting .266 — the first time in his career his batting average is below .300. He can still run, but he can’t motor like Gardner can.
Furthermore, if manager Joe Girardi wants to play Wells against a left-handed pitcher, Alex Rodriguez, who has been hitting second, may end up leading off.
2013 has been one gigantic headache, arm ache, back ache – you name it – for the Yankees. Yet, they are only a game out of a playoff spot. Who knows? Maybe Gardner will be healthy for October.