Ibanez's history in left eases Yanks' worries

Ibanez's history in left eases Yanks' worries

Ibanez's history in left eases Yanks' worries
NEW YORK -- Because Brett Gardner is on the disabled list for at least 15 days with a strained right elbow, the Yankees intend to go with a platoon in left field consisting of lefty-swinging veteran Raul Ibanez and the right-handed-hitting Andruw Jones for the time being, manager Joe Girardi said on Thursday night.

Ibanez will undoubtedly get more playing time because the Major Leagues are dominated by right-handed starting pitchers. That's fine with the Yankees. Ibanez was the regular left fielder for the Phillies the past three seasons, averaging 136 games played per season. Previously, he played left field regularly for the Mariners and Royals.

"It's not like it's going to be foreign to him going out there," Girardi said of Ibanez, now in his 17th season. "He's been in the American League enough that he understands how to play [Fenway Park's] Green Monster to a certain extent. He understands how to play left field, and he'll do fine out there."

Ibanez was in the lineup on Thursday night against the Twins at Yankee Stadium, playing left and batting seventh in the finale of a four-game series. Girardi also gave Robinson Cano his "night off," starting the slugger as the designated hitter, with Eduardo Nunez at second base.

The Yankees signed Ibanez as a free agent on Feb. 12 to a one-year, $1.1 million contract to utilize him at DH and as a bench player. Ibanez entered Thursday batting .258 with two homers and nine RBIs, mostly as a DH. But he's also had some time in right field. With the Phillies last season, Ibanez hit .245 -- 35 points below his career average -- with 20 homers and 84 RBIs.

Ibanez said he was told to expect to play more in the outfield over the next few weeks. Otherwise, his role doesn't matter to him.

"I'm good with whatever," said Ibanez, who started for the Phillies squad that lost the 2009 World Series to the Yankees in six games. "Whatever the team needs from me to help them win, that's what I'll do."

Asked if he had any preference among the outfield positions, Ibanez added: "I played left for many, many years. Obviously, that's something I've done a lot more."