Ibanez providing Yanks quality time in outfield

Ibanez providing Yanks quality time in outfield

OAKLAND -- The Yankees envisioned Raul Ibanez as their everyday designated hitter against right-handers who would play in the field occasionally. Instead, the veteran has spent more time patrolling the outfield.

Saturday marked Ibanez's 23rd start of the season in the outfield, 17 of which have come in left field with Brett Gardner on the disabled list.

By contrast, Ibanez has been the DH just 10 times, three fewer than Alex Rodriguez, who was the DH again on Saturday. Manager Joe Girardi said that Ibanez, who was batting .270 with nine homers and 27 RBIs, has not exceeded expectations by playing defense so often.

"When I saw him in Spring Training, the way he was moving, I knew he could do that," Girardi said. "In my mind, I had him playing the outfield once a week, twice a week, three times in two weeks, just to give some guys a blow. But we haven't been able to do that because of the injuries."

Gardner is working out in Tampa, Fla., and hopes to resume swinging a bat on Monday to test his strained right elbow. The Yankees want to make sure that Gardner does not have another setback, having not played in a Major League game since April 17.

"If we have another setback, we're probably looking at the All-Star break," Girardi said. "So we've got to make sure before [Gardner] goes out and play some games that [he] doesn't feel it at all."