NEW YORK -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi defended his decision to start Curtis Granderson at the top of the order for the third straight game on Sunday.
Throughout New York's series with the Mariners, Girardi has said he's wanted to break up the left-handed hitters in his lineup, but on Sunday, he also pointed to Granderson's .348 on-base percentage against right-handed pitchers -- the third-highest percentage on the team behind Robinson Cano and Eric Chavez.
"Who is our highest on-base guy against right-handers?" Girardi said. "It's Cano. Do you want me to lead him off? No. So Grandy falls into the category where he's one of our higher guys, so that's why he goes there. Then you could say, 'Well, Grandy is a power hitter.' Well, so is Cano, so is [Mark Teixeira], so is [Nick Swisher], so is [Raul] Ibanez. You say, 'Why don't I move him back?' Well, then who do I move up to the front with speed?"
Girardi said Granderson wouldn't be leading off if Alex Rodriguez wasn't on the disabled list with a non-displaced fracture on his left hand, but the injury has forced the manager to get creative. He has hesitated to use Ichiro Suzuki in the leadoff spot since New York acquired the speedy outfielder on July 23 because Ichiro's .261 batting average and .287 OBP are well below his career averages. Derek Jeter, who has batted first in 100 games this year, has a .340 OBP against right-handers this season, so Girardi defended his decision to go with Granderson by insisting he's strictly going by the numbers.
"The bottom line is you want your guys on base in front of your RBI guys," Girardi said. "That's what you try to do. It doesn't hurt to have a home run in the first inning if he's the first hitter or have a two-run homer in the first if he's hitting second. There's nothing wrong with that."