NEW YORK -- As the Yankees prepare to embark on their second road trip of the season to Oakland, Los Angeles and Baltimore, manager Joe Girardi is starting to get a feel for his everyday lineup -- one that includes a left-field platoon between Brett Gardner and Marcus Thames.
The left-handed-hitting Gardner has acquitted himself nicely at the plate early in the year with a .296 average and .387 on-base percentage. And once Gardner gets on base, he can create havoc, as shown by his five stolen bases in just seven starts.
After Gardner had three infield hits in Saturday's win over the Rangers, Texas manager Ron Washington compared the outfielder's impact to that of Ichiro Suzuki.
"I hope Gardy gets 2,000 hits in 10 years," Girardi said when asked about the comparison. "He creates issues, and Ichiro creates issues for opposing players. They can change a game, and it's not necessarily with one swing of the bat. It's when they get on base."
At the same time, Thames has gotten off to a hot start, with five hits in his first 10 at-bats. Thames has done that damage almost exclusively against left-handed pitching, and he will likely start three of the first six games of the Bombers' road trip against southpaws.
"Thames has swung the bat well, and I like what we've seen from him," Girardi said. "Thames is going to get some time, and [the platoon] has worked pretty good."
In his career, Thames is a .261 hitter against lefties and .233 against right-handers. He also slugs 45 points higher against southpaws.
"I'm just trying to take one game at a time and have some good at-bats," Thames said. "I prepare myself like I play every day. That's the way I've always been. I always know my role, and whenever my name is on the lineup card, I'll be ready to play."
The strong start to the year has made the transition back to New York even easier for Thames. Brought up in the Yankees' organization, Thames returned to the Bronx this season after seven seasons in Texas and Detroit.
"I started in this organization, so I know a lot of people around here -- just a bunch of great guys," Thames said. "I just try to do my part, stay out of the way and help as much as I can. All the guys are awesome, and it makes it easier when you have a lot of great guys around."