In Spring Training, Joe Girardi said that he’d find enough at bats for Nick Swisher, who lost the right field competition — though it wasn’t really a competition — to Xavier Nady. Swish sat on the bench for the opener and Game 2, but came on strong in Games 3 and 4. To make sure that Swish continues to get at bats, especially while he’s hot, Girardi has slotted him in left field for Johnny Damon tonight.
This is the kind of balance Girardi will have to find all season. Sometimes he’ll have to go with the hot hand, but if everyone’s hitting it’s going to be a tough balance. The early indication, though, is that he knows what he’s going to do. That’s all we can ask for at this point.
Here’s the big question: if Hideki puts up another 0-for today, does he get another day off tomorrow? He has just one hit and no walks in 10 plate appearances, and that he’s hitting in the middle of the order doesn’t help his case. HIs at bats haven’t looked particularly good either, as he’s trying to pull a lot of outside pitches and has been stepping in the bucket with a frequency you’d like not to see in a major leaguer. It’s early, and I have complete faith that Hideki will come around and help the lineup. For the time being, though, it might be better to stick with the guys who are hitting, which includes Nick Swisher.
Brett Gardner gets the start again tonight, which is slightly surprising at first glance. Girardi stressed that Melky Cabrera didn’t lose the center field battle, and with a lefty on the mound it would seem a prime opportunity to get him at bats. Yet Melky is demonstrably worse as a righty hitter — .648 OPS over his career vs .725 as lefty. One has to wonder, then, how Girardi will work him into the lineup…if he does at all.
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Nick Swisher, LF Johnny Damon, LF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B Nick Swisher, 1B
4. Hideki Matsui, DH
5. Jorge Posada, C
6. Robinson Cano, 2B
7. Xavier Nady, RF
8. Cody Ransom, 3B
9. Brett Gardner, CF
And on the mound, No. 52, Carsten Charles Sabathia
Late Update by Mike: Kat O’Brien is reported that Mark Teixeira is out of the lineup with a sore left wrist. Swisher slides in at first and Damon will man left after all. It’s probably just a precaution, he’s been driving the ball pretty well the last few days.