NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Yankees manager Joe Girardi thinks most players have power. They just have to “learn how to use it better.”
Brett Gardner must have been taking notes.
The speedy outfielder has already set a career high with 13 home runs, good for 36 percent of his all-time total (36) over seven seasons.
“He was hitting the ball hard before but getting outs,” Girardi said after Tuesday’s 12-11 win. “Now he’s hitting it out and hitting it down the lines.”
Gardner — fresh off a four-year, $52 million extension — is 7-for-10 in his last two games, including three home runs, three RBIs and five runs. He also hit two doubles Tuesday.
“He’s playing every day, physically he feels good,” Girardi said, according to Newsday. “He’s been able to stay away from some of the nagging (injuries) he’s had before. And some years guys just get more pitches to hit out of the ballpark. But I’ve always felt that he could hit double digits.”
Gardner’s power surge comes at a time when the Yankees have struggled to put runs on the board, outside of Tuesday’s 12-run outburst. The 30-year-old has quietly climbed to second on the team in home runs behind first baseman Mark Teixeira.
He has one more dinger than noted slugger Carlos Beltran, who signed a three-year deal with New York in the offseason. But Gardner is better compared to another high-profile acquisition: $153-million man Jacoby Ellsbury.
Ellsbury, also a 30-year-old outfielder, is batting .279 with eight home runs, 47 RBIs, 21 doubles and 28 steals. Gardner, who may have cost himself millions by forgoing free agency, is proving himself to be the better value with a .283 average, 13 homers, 46 RBIs, 15 doubles and 17 steals.
Just ask Rangers ace Yu Darvish, who was on the receiving end of two Gardner home runs on Monday.
“I just blame the parents of Brett Gardner,” he said, via ESPN Dallas. “I just blame them for creating a great hitter.”
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