First baseman Jason Giambi, who's struggling below .200 this spring, isn't ready for the season but said there aren't any problems with his surgically repaired left knee.
Giambi expects to play a bulk of his games at first base, which, consequently, will enable the Yankees to work Bernie Williams as the designated hitter and Kenny Lofton in center field.
"Everything depends on Jason's ability to stay healthy enough to play the field," manager Joe Torre said of that plan. "He's going to play first base. I'm not looking to do anything else. As far as I'm concerned, he's the first baseman."
Giambi, who has long insisted this numbers are superior when he plays the field -- .318 average and 192 homers lifetime at first; a .264 average with 50 homers as the designated hitter -- couldn't be happier. He's not ready to be put out to baseball pasture.
"I like to play first base," he said. "That's why I'm here. That's what I want to do."
Giambi is hitting .206 so far this Spring, but he does have two homeruns and seven RBI in 34 at bats. He hit just .250 last season, but still managed 41 homeruns and 107 RBI.
CF/DH Bernie Williams took his first post-appendectomy batting practice Wednesday, March 17 and was expected to play in a minor league game Monday, March 22. Manager Joe Torre is pleased with Williams' progress to the point where he's planning to keep Williams on the Opening Day roster, which would enable him to play in the third and fourth games of the season at Tampa Bay.
As of right now, however, Bernie still hasn't appeared in an exhibition game with the Yankees and his Opening Day status is largely in question. Kenny Lofton will most likely be the Yankees starting centerfielder when they make their debut in Japan.
2B Enrique Wilson hasn't won the second base job yet, but manager Joe Torre's familiarity with him defensively and a hot spring (.441 batting average in 34 at bats) gives him the edge over Miguel Cairo and Homer Bush. "Nobody has said anything," Wilson said. "I'm feeling good about the way I am playing right now. I'm not assuming anything. I just have to keep playing hard."
On the bright side, three new Yankees are making some noise in Spring Training. 3B Alex Rodriguez, acquired from Texas for Alfonso Soriano, is hitting .351 through 37 at bats and is adjusting to his new position very well so far. Javier Vazquez has been having a brilliant spring, going 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA in 11 innings pitched. Vazquez has allowed just five hits and two walks while striking out an extremely impressive 11 batters. The right-hander will not accompany the Yankees to Japan, however, as Mike Mussina and Kevin Brown are expected to start the two games there.
Finally, Tom "Flash" Gordon is having a ridiculous pre-season. The right-handed setup man hasn't allowed a run through 10 innings, has allowed just three hits, and has struck 14 batters while walking only one. Looks like the Yankees have their setup man that they lacked in 2003.
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