OAKLAND -- Showing up daily and expecting to be in the lineup, Brett Gardner hasn't put too much stock into the idea that the Yankees would keep playing other hitters against left-handed pitching.
So Gardner arrived at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum on Tuesday expecting to see his name in the lineup, and it was. Gardner got the nod over Marcus Thames and Randy Winn against A's lefty Gio Gonzalez, earning his first start of the 2010 season against a southpaw.
"Obviously, I've had some at-bats against the guy, I feel comfortable against him and I'm excited about it," Gardner said. "You always hope that you're playing, and you have to come to the field expecting to play, so you're mentally ready. I'm definitely not surprised."
Gardner entered the game 1-for-2 with a triple and a walk in three big league plate appearances against Gonzalez, all coming in a game last July 25 in which Gardner fractured his left thumb while sliding into second base.
But Gardner has also faced Gonzalez in the Minor Leagues numerous times, a fact Yankees manager Joe Girardi was not necessarily aware of. Girardi's decision to start Gardner was based more upon his hot start; he entered Tuesday hitting .333 (10-for-30).
"We consider Gardy to be an everyday player," Girardi said. "We believe that he can play every day, but we wanted to get Marcus in the mix and Randy in the mix. Gardy is going well, and we'll go with that. ... We like what he's doing a lot. He's caused a lot of havoc for other clubs."
One of the aspects Girardi loves about Gardner's game is the fact that every time he hits the ball on the ground, there is a chance that he will wind up on first base.
"I'd like to be hitting line drives and hitting the ball hard," Gardner said. "Obviously for me, it's definitely more beneficial if I miss on top and put the ball on the ground than if I put the ball in the air. If I can keep the ball on the ground, I can find a way to get on base."