After missing the first 38 games of the season with a fractured forearm Curtis Granderson is off the disabled list and in the Yankees’ lineup for tonight’s game against the Mariners, playing left field and batting cleanup.
Granderson went 8-for-20 (.400) with one homer on a brief minor-league rehab assignment, notching at least one hit in all five games he played at Triple-A. New York demoted Brennan Boesch to Triple-A yesterday to make room for Granderson, who’s expected to play primarily left field with Brett Gardner remaining in center field.
It’ll be interesting to see how manager Joe Girardi divvies up the playing time, because Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner have been two of the Yankees’ best hitters and Ichiro Suzuki has struggled. For tonight at least Hafner is on the bench with a sore shoulder, so the decision was made for him.
Granderson hit just .232 with 195 strikeouts last season, but smacked 43 homers and drew 75 walks in 160 games for an .811 OPS that ranked 25th among all outfielders.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.