TORONTO -- Brett Gardner was part of the celebrations when Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez joined the 3,000-hit club, and while he has a ways to go before approaching that illustrious group, the Yankees outfielder is proud to at least be a third of the way there.Gardner collected his 1,000th
TORONTO -- Brett Gardner was part of the celebrations when Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez joined the 3,000-hit club, and while he has a ways to go before approaching that illustrious group, the Yankees outfielder is proud to at least be a third of the way there.
Gardner collected his 1,000th career hit with a fourth-inning single off Marco Estrada in Thursday's 12-2 victory over the Blue Jays. He became just the fifth player drafted by the Yankees to collect at least 1,000 hits with the club, joining Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly, Jeter and Jorge Posada. The first Draft was held in 1965.
"It's pretty cool. I guess on one hand it's just another number, but on another hand, it's a lot of hits," Gardner said. "It took me a while to get there. [Starlin Castro] was 25 or 26 when he got 1,000, but it's pretty special. I'm sure I'll find a special spot for the ball. I'm happy about it."
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Overall, Gardner is the 41st player in franchise history to collect at least 1,000 hits in a Yankees uniform. Gardner is the Yankees' longest-tenured player, having been selected by the club in the third round of the 2005 Draft and making his big league debut in 2008.
"Everything I've done is as a Yankee; I haven't played anywhere else," Gardner said. "I take a lot of pride in that. I just take a lot of pride in being able to go out there and suit up every day with my guys."
Jacoby Ellsbury (concussion) took outdoor batting practice on Friday, but manager Joe Girardi said that he is now less optimistic that Ellsbury will be able to return to the lineup during the club's stay in Toronto. Ellsbury was injured making a catch in a May 25 game against the Royals.
"He continues to feel better but there's still work that they're doing on him physically," Girardi said. "We'll see where he is after BP today."
Christopher Austin hit his first homer of the year on Thursday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as the first baseman-outfielder continues to get at-bats under his belt. Austin missed all of Spring Training due to a left ankle fracture and has compiled a .389/.450/.639 slash line in five games for Double-A Trenton and six at Triple-A.
"I think you're trying to get him a full Spring Training to be fair to him, to make sure that when we decide what we're going to do, he is ready to go," Girardi said. "He's getting closer, I think. He's probably got about 40 at-bats (36); Spring Training is about 55 to 60. He's closer."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.