CINCINNATI -- Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher have done a nice job sharing leadoff duties with Derek Jeter out of the lineup, but the first spot in the batting order still belongs to the Yankees' captain.
One day after saying Jeter would be the leadoff hitter when he returns from a strained right calf, manager Joe Girardi revisited the topic, saying he felt no urge to bat Jeter lower in the order.
"These guys have done a great job in Derek's absence, there's no doubt about it," Girardi said. "Swish has done a great job against left-handers and Gardy has done a great job against the right-handers. But when Derek comes back, I'll put him in the leadoff spot."
Just six hits shy of 3,000 for his career, Jeter is eligible to come off the disabled list on June 29. His march toward the hit plateau has been a little slower than the Yankees would have liked, due in part to his .260 batting average in 62 games.
Gardner entered Wednesday's doubleheader hitting .356 (52-for-146) since April 26, and had been even hotter over previous last 11 games (.472). Swisher, though not a prototypical leadoff hitter because he lacks blazing speed, entered Wednesday hitting .307 since May 27, with an impressive .455 on-base percentage.
But Girardi will stand by Jeter, who is expected to hit on Wednesday or Thursday at the Yankees' complex in Tampa, Fla., and is progressing. The Yankees can't promise if Jeter will be back off the disabled list in the minimum 15 days, but they swear he'll slide right back into his old spot.
"He's been our leadoff hitter the whole year, and our plans are to put him back there when he gets back. The big thing is to get him back healthy," Girardi said.