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Hot streak could move Gardner up in lineup

Hot streak could move Gardner up in lineup

Hot streak could move Gardner up in lineup
ST. PETERSBURG -- Brett Gardner's recent surge may have him back atop Joe Girardi's lineup on a consistent basis.

Gardner came into Wednesday's game against the Rays producing like a prototypical leadoff hitter, with a .640 on-base percentage, six runs scored and six stolen bases in his first six second-half games.

Then, in his first at-bat against Rays starter David Price, he reached on a broken-bat infield single and stole his 16th consecutive base and 30th on the year.

With Alex Rodriguez out, Curtis Granderson providing solid power numbers -- he hit his 26th homer in the first inning to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead -- and Derek Jeter struggling since his magical 3,000th-hit afternoon, Girardi is toying with moving Gardner up in his batting order.

"It's something that you definitely think about," said Girardi, who had Gardner batting ninth Wednesday. "Maybe you get him back up top somewhere, but I don't have any plans. I haven't done it yet."

Girardi said he doesn't really have an issue with stacking two lefties at the top of the order, which is relevant because of the lefty-hitting Granderson's success as a No. 2 hitter all year. But putting Gardner first and Granderson second would involve dropping Jeter in the order, a subject matter Girardi has no desire to speculate on.

Another option, perhaps the most logical at this time, would be to have a top three of Gardner, Jeter and Granderson until A-Rod returns.

But Girardi doesn't look at lineup structure on an individual basis; he sees it as a whole that can be greatly diminished without consistency.

The fact the Yankees came into Wednesday tied for second in the Majors in runs scored might have him a little hesitant to make any drastic changes.

"I think you can get caught up in sometimes trying to catch lightning in a bottle," Girardi said. "You move a guy because he's hot, and then you disrupt your whole lineup just because a guy is hot. I think you can get caught up in that, too. There's something to be said about the consistency of a lineup, and a lot of times, how it all works together."

Jeter came into Wednesday with five singles in 26 at-bats since that memorable 5-for-5 game on July 9. He singled in the first inning and scored on Granderson's homer.

At some point -- whether it's this week, later this season or sometime in the next few years -- Girardi might legitimately consider moving Jeter down in his lineup.

Girardi, who went through this sort of thing earlier this season when he attempted to move Jorge Posada to the No. 9 spot, believes communication is most important in that scenario.

"I think if you ever get in a situation where you have to move a player who's of substantial status, you'd sit down and talk to him before you ever did it and tell him your thoughts and [get] his thoughts and be respectful about it," Girardi said.

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