(Long Island, N.Y.) When opposing managers prepare to face the New York Yankees, a number of names in the lineup jump off the page. Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano are perennial All-Stars that have had more than their fair share of big moments but they are far from the only ones in pinstripes who can make the highlight film.
Take Curtis Granderson, for instance. The center fielder came over from the Tigers back in December 2009 in a three-team trade and performed the way he had the previous four seasons in Detroit. He was known as a productive outfielder that led the American League in triples two consecutive seasons (23 in 2007 and 13 in 2008), can hit for power, and has decent speed but also had a knack for the strikeout. He also could handle his position quite well, with his fielding percentage in the high .990s.
Although he missed 26 games with injuries last season, Granderson more or less did the usual in his first go round in the Bronx. He hit 24 home runs, drove in 67 runs and had 17 doubles, seven triples and 12 stolen bases. His average declined for the fourth consecutive year, though, as Granderson hit only .247.
But on Opening Day this past Thursday, Granderson sent the chilled fans home from Yankee Stadium happy when he hit the tiebreaking homerun in the seventh inning of the 6-3 win over his former team.
“The big thing is just getting the first one out of 162,” Granderson said to reporters after the game. “All the firsts are out of the way. I know these guys, I know this city, I know how it is. All of those question marks are gone now.”
While it may be too early for that, it was encouraging on more than one level for Granderson. He suffered a right oblique strain at the end of Spring Training and it was up in the air if he would be ready to go once the team headed north. Granderson not only hit the aforementioned home run, but also made a tremendous diving catch in the first inning, quelling any worries about his condition.
Hitting eighth in the lineup, Granderson is not counted on to be a main cog in the Yanks’ offense. With the speedy Brett Gardner leading off, the infield quartet of Jeter, Teixeira, A-Rod and Cano are the run producers. Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada follow and Russell Martin, the Yankees’ new catcher, rounds out the batting order.
If Granderson can keep doing what he has been able to do, the Bombers’ offense will be a formidable one. Not too many clubs can look that far down the lineup and find a good amount of production. Granderson was expected to do a lot more when he was in Detroit, but the Yankees have more resources than the Tigers.
And those resources have resulted in putting together a stacked team that requires a lot of attention from the opposition, including Granderson.