ST. PETERSBURG -- Curtis Granderson acknowledges that he probably lost two hits in Friday's 7-6 Opening Day loss because the Rays employed a defensive shift on him, but the Yankees' center fielder cannot change his approach.
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon uses the shift more than any other American League skipper, according to New York manager Joe Girardi, so it wasn't a surprise to Granderson when he stepped in and saw the shortstop playing to the right side of second base.
"You've got to go up there and stick with your same approach and plan," Granderson said. "If you get a pitch to go the other way, you do it. If not, you've got to go ahead and try to hit it hard."
Granderson said that he also saw the Blue Jays, Orioles and White Sox use similar shifts against him from time to time. It makes sense; against right-handed pitching in 2011, 56 percent of the balls Granderson put in play went to the right side, including 27 percent to the outfield, according to STATS, Inc.
That's an uptick over Granderson's previous Yankees years; in 2010, he pulled 45 percent of balls against righties, and in '09, he pulled 54 percent of the balls he put in play. Granderson says he realizes he's more of a pull hitter now than he was in the Minors.
"It's not that I'm going up there trying to pull," Granderson said. "The only time that I ever am is if there's a runner at second base with less than two outs, just because of the situation.
"There's just times where I just happen to get out there and pull the ball, but it's not that I'm trying. [Hitting coach] Kevin Long and myself aren't up there with the approach of trying to pull it -- it just ends up happening from time to time."
Granderson said that he seems to see the shift most against righties who throw a lot of changeups, like Tampa Bay's James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson, the latter of whom will start Sunday's series finale.