Granderson gets early breather in finale

Granderson gets early breather in finale

Granderson gets early breather in finale
ST. PETERSBURG -- Joe Girardi had pretty much already made his decision by the time he approached Curtis Granderson before Thursday's game.

"He asked how everything was feeling and I said, 'Everything's all right, I just want to swing, just to make sure that was OK,'" Granderson recalled. "He goes, 'OK, I'm giving you the day,' before he even got a chance to see how it felt. But I told him I'll be ready. I am ready."

Granderson wound up coming into the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, eventually flying out against James Shields, then striking out against Kyle Farnsworth for the final out of the game.

But Granderson had taken a beating over the last couple of days. He was hit by a pitch on the left foot on Tuesday, then had three things go wrong on Wednesday -- he collided with the center-field fence after making a sensational catch, was drilled in the back by a David Price fastball, and fouled a ball off his right shin.

Regardless, it's tough to sit Granderson at any point these days.

The 30-year-old came in leading the team with 26 homers, leading the American League with eight triples, and leading the Majors with 85 runs scored. Perhaps most impressive is the improvement he has made against lefties.

In Wednesday's first inning, Granderson hit his Major League-leading 10th homer off a lefty when he took Price deep. Last year, he hit just four all year against southpaws.

Granderson credits his 2011 success off lefties to the batting-practice pitches from lefty-throwing hitting coach Kevin Long -- as well as his teachings.

"Last year we made the change, Kevin Long and myself, just to calm down all my moving parts with the swing, just so I wouldn't have to do too much to get myself ready to hit and attack the baseball," Granderson said. "And I think that helps me to recognize balls and strikes."