Girardi decides to switch things up

Updated: April 2, 2009, 12:11 PM ET
Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. -- Derek Jeter could be the first New York Yankees player to bat at their new stadium.

Manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday that his spring training switch of Jeter and Johnny Damon atop the lineup has worked so well that as of right now, the Yankees captain will bat first and Damon second for the season opener at Baltimore on Monday.

"I've liked what I've seen," Girardi said.

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Girardi flip-flopped Damon and Jeter for the first time on March 26. The manager was impressed with what he saw earlier in spring training when Damon batted second so catcher Jorge Posada, coming back from right shoulder surgery, could hit first and get extra at-bats.

Jeter is a career .315 hitter batting first. The last time Damon hit second with more than 50 at-bats came in 2002.

New York will complete spring training at the new Yankee Stadium starting with a workout on Thursday. The Yankees will play their final two exhibition games there Friday and Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. Their home opener is April 16.

The team opened spring training with major questions about several key injured players, including Posada; closer Mariano Rivera (right shoulder surgery); right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (foot); and designated hitter Hideki Matsui (left knee surgery). All four are ready for the start of the regular season.

"I was pretty concerned," Girardi said. "In today's world it seems like there's a lot of offseason situations that players go through surgery. Just the nature of the game."

The Yankees will be without third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who had right hip surgery on March 9, until May.

Girardi knows he will be under close scrutiny, one year after the Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

"You understand when you take this job, you're under it all the time," Girardi said. "It's not a job where you get three years to see what happens."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press