Brett Gardner had Saturday off from the field but not from the video room.
Two weeks of disappointing numbers (.146, 6-for-41, .222 OBP) as a leadoff hitter against right-handed pitching made a viewing session with hitting instructor Kevin Long necessary. Gardner’s slow start led manager Joe Girardi to bat him ninth for the first time against a right-hander in last night’s late game with Texas.
“I don’t try to put any extra pressure on myself, whether I’m hitting one, two, eight or nine,” Gardner said. “My job is to get on base, plain and simple. The last week and a half, I haven’t been doing that, so it’s something I need to start doing.”
He needs to start using the lower half of his body in the batter’s box, something Long found extremely troublesome.
“Not only was I getting behind in the count in most of my at-bats, but when I was taking a swing, it wasn’t always my ‘A’ swing and that’s something that’s very, very important,” Gardner said.
That might explain the 11 times Gardner has found himself behind the count at 0-2. It might also account for Gardner having four multi strikeout games and just two multi-hit games.
Gardner took plenty of swings last year from the bottom of the order last year when he batted a combined .277 in 100 games, including .243 in 181 at-bats as a ninth-place hitter. It is not necessary a permanent residence for Gardner, just a spot for him to get back to resembling the .268 hitter from 2009-2010 and even exceeding that average.
“It’s a place that he hit all year for the most part last year and had some success,” Girardi said. “With that, I’m not saying it’s a long term thing; we’re just trying to get him going.”
If Gardner does get on base, he won’t be driven in by Alex Rodriguez. The Bombers’ third baseman was unavailable for last night’s game with lower back and oblique stiffness after getting hurt Saturday.