Outfielder 'excited' to join big club after five-game rehab stint in Minors
Special to MLB.com
TRENTON, N.J. -- Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson received the message he was waiting for late Wednesday afternoon.
General manager Brian Cashman mentioned the rehabbing outfielder, who has been sidelined with a broken left pinkie knuckle since he was struck by a pitch from Tampa Bay's Cesar Ramos May 24, will be activated Friday for the Yankees' weekend series in San Diego.
"I'm excited," Granderson said. "I'm anxious to help our team get back to the postseason. With [Derek] Jeter back, and with [Alfonso] Soriano now in the lineup, [Robinson] Cano will be getting more help.
"It's the day I've been waiting for."
Granderson has had a star-crossed 2013 season. He suffered a fractured right wrist when hit by Toronto's J.A. Happ in the first Spring Training game, which sidelined him until May 14. He has appeared in just eight 2013 games with the Yankees after hitting 84 home runs and driving in 225 runs in 2011-12.
"I realize, after these injuries, you have to do all you can to stay on the field. Any little thing can take that away," said Granderson, who will wear added wrist, hand and elbow padding when he returns Friday.
"What I want to do is make sure all these areas are covered when I'm at-bat," he said. "If I get hit, let it be on the larger parts of my body."
Granderson concluded a five-game rehabilitation assignment, two with the Double-A Trenton Thunder, Wednesday afternoon. He was 4-for-15 with three walks. A bit of a stomach bug forced him into the DH role Wednesday.
"Right before the game, the stomach just wasn't cooperating," said Granderson, who went 1-for-3 with two walks, a strikeout and a run scored in the game, a 5-3 Harrisburg win before 4,839 fans.
"I really didn't want to be out in left field in that situation, so we switched [with Ramon Flores] and playing in the DH role worked out. Aside from that, everything feels fine."
Granderson, despite feeling a bit under the weather, passed a few key tests in Wednesday's game, diving back into first base after his walk in the bottom of the third inning and avoiding a collision at the plate after his second walk in the top of the seventh. No doubt that was a factor in Cashman's decision to activate him Friday.
In the third, he took a big lead off first, drawing a throw from Harrisburg starting pitcher A.J. Cole. Granderson dove back into first just before Senators first baseman Justin Bloxom could apply a tag. His healed knuckle touched the bag.
"The good thing about that play at first is the natural tendencies took over," Granderson said. "I wasn't worried at all about the injury, or 'Am I going to get hurt?' I just did what I always do, got up, dusted myself off and got ready for the next at-bat.
"This is why these games are good. You can't really practice plays like that. You need a game situation."
In the seventh, Granderson looked to score on Slade Heathcott's double into the right-center-field gap. As he turned past third, Harrisburg shortstop Jason Martinson relayed to Senators veteran catcher Brian Jeroloman.
Jeroloman pulled in the ball and a collision looked imminent. Instead, Granderson and Jeroloman ended up hugging after Granderson scored the Thunder's second run.
"I wasn't trying to run him over," Granderson said. "I was looking to try to slide on the far side [right] of the plate, and he moved to the right of the plate and I couldn't slide. So I went left, he fell down and I crossed the plate.
"We both got up to tell about it. I wish him good luck for the rest of his season. We hugged and went on. I told him I wasn't trying to run him over. That's the first time I've ever been involved in a play like this."
Granderson singled to left in the first inning, hit a deep fly ball nearly 400 feet to center in the fifth and struck out looking in the ninth.
"I thought my timing was a bit better than it was yesterday," Granderson said. "We saw some things on the video that we could compare. The first few games are just getting at-bats. We also did some work in the cage.
"When I get back with the Yankees, with the stadiums and lighting being different, my timing might fall back a bit. [Yankees hitting coach] Kevin Long knows my swing and we'll get the rest of what we need to get done up there."
Granderson also knows he has an expiring contract with the Yankees, but that's on the back burner right now.
"I'm not worried about that right now," he said. "I just want to get back and contribute."