Gardner welcomes Ellsbury addition, move to left
TAMPA, Fla. -- Brett Gardner was holding court with reporters at his clubhouse locker on Wednesday morning, when Derek Jeter, who would draw a much larger media contingent later in the day, walked by.
"You're getting traded now?" Jeter asked Gardner. "Not yet, Jeet," Gardner replied. "Is that Facebook account fake, by the way?"
After seeing his name pop up in trade rumors all offseason, Gardner is still with the Yankees. The 30-year-old expects to slide back over to left field this year, making room for Jacoby Ellsbury to take over the everyday duties in center field.
"I feel comfortable over there," Gardner said. "I told [manager] Joe [Girardi] I can play right too if he needs me to. I'll do whatever I'm needed to do to help the team win. Wherever I'm playing out there, wherever I'm hitting in the lineup, whatever he needs me to do, I'll be ready."
Gardner said that he was surprised when the Yankees landed Ellsbury with a seven-year, $153 million deal, but he believes that the former Red Sox outfielder will improve the roster.
"Having him over here makes us a better team," Gardner said. "I'm happy to play alongside of him and learn from him, and he's obviously a real good baserunner. We're kind of the same type of player, and maybe some things that he has I can learn from him, and push each other to get better."
Seeing the shift in the Yankees' outfield, Gardner became a popular trade target for other clubs. In December, general manager Brian Cashman rejected a proposal from the Reds that would have swapped Gardner for second baseman Brandon Phillips.
Yankees officials said at the time that they were not shopping Gardner and would consider dealing him only for a front-line starting pitcher. Around that time, Gardner said that he heard from Girardi, telling him not to pay attention to the rumors.
"[Girardi called] just to let me know that with Jacoby over there, he still envisioned me playing a big role on the team," Gardner said. "Just to keep my mind in a good place, and not to worry about everything you see and hear."