MOOSIC – During his stellar Major League career, Curtis Granderson has played more than 1,000 games lining up in centerfield. Those numbers at other outfield positions diminish drastically to less than two dozen in left field and none in right in the Majors.
But on Thursday night at PNC Field, the all-star outfielder for the New York Yankees suited up and played right field for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The 32-year-old is working at every outfield position for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on a rehab assignment to help out an already thriving outfield in New York.
“As long as I get a chance to play and help this team out,” Granderson said when asked about an outfield preference. “We’ve had some conversations throughout spring and up until now. Today I played right field. Not exactly sure where I’m going to go back to when I return. Tomorrow I might be playing somewhere else different.
“And the fact that we have everybody that can move around, a lot of us are centerfielders. A lot of us have the ability to play left and right. ”
New York outfielders Ichiro Suzuki, Vernon Wells and Brett Gardner entered Thursday’s game versus Colorado combining to hit 11 home runs, drive in 34 runs and steal 13 bases. So with Granderson getting familiar with each outfield position, it gives skipper Joe Girardi more flexibility.
Granderson made three plays in right fielding two hits and catching one fly out. On his first chance in right, he played a double off the inlet in the corner perfectly.
“It gives variety to Joe Girardi. I think that’s another great asset for him to have the ability to move guys in and out and give guys days off,” said Granderson, who was playing in Moosic for the first time since 2010 and is set to be in town all weekend getting back from a broken forearm suffered at the beginning of spring training playing possibly another outfield slot or as designated hitter.
At the plate, the left-handed hitter had a tough test to get back into a groove in Pittsburgh Pirates prized pitching prospect Gerrit Cole. Cole, who was drafted No. 1 overall by the club in 2011, showed why he is so highly thought of by many in the game getting his fastball over at 97 mph during Granderson’s first at bat. But Granderson made contact on every strike Cole tossed eventually grounding into a fielder’s choice. Cole got the star to roll over in his second at-bat as well. In his third at-bat, Granderson laced a single up the middle to end his day 1-for-3.
“To get a chance to have my first Triple-A game against a guy that’s supposed to be one of the top guys in all of baseball obviously is a great way to break the ice,” Granderson added.” He throws hard, which seems to be his motto out there. But he also knows how to pitch.”
Granderson, now in the 12th week of his rehab, spent time getting ready for game action after being hit by a pitch from Toronto’s J.A. Happ in the first spring training game of the season on Feb. 24. He was training in Tampa, Fla. at extended spring training for most of that time staying in game-ready condition. The time went by faster the last few weeks because he was in Florida with other injured Yankees Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter and Kevin Youkilis.
“The funny thing about us all being down there is that it’s one step closer for us all getting back.”