BALTIMORE -- With Brett Gardner likely unable to swing the bat after being drilled near the right elbow with a pitch in Wednesday's 7-0 victory over the Orioles, the Yankees called up outfielder Ben Gamel from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday.Gamel, 23, opened some eyes in the organization with a strong
BALTIMORE -- With Brett Gardner likely unable to swing the bat after being drilled near the right elbow with a pitch in Wednesday's 7-0 victory over the Orioles, the Yankees called up outfielder Ben Gamel from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday.
Gamel, 23, opened some eyes in the organization with a strong spring. He continued that progress at Triple-A, where he was batting .286/.346/.363 with one homer and nine RBIs in 23 games, and has been mentioned as being perhaps the most underrated player in the system.
"I've always played hard," said Gamel, who was a 10th-round selection of the Yankees in 2010. "My dad always said, 'If you're not having fun, don't play.'"
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that the left-handed-hitting Gamel could see time at all three outfield positions or be used to pinch-run. The brother of former big leaguer Mat Gamel, Ben is rated as the Yankees' No. 13 prospect by MLBPipeline.com.
"He's really progressed the last year and a half," Girardi said. "The year that he had last year was really, really good. His start this year's been pretty good. He grinds out at-bats, he's a tough kid. He's versatile in the outfield. He has some speed. So there's some things that he can add."
In a corresponding roster move, left-hander James Pazos was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre -- a most unwelcome 25th birthday gift. Pazos was called up on Wednesday but did not appear.
Gardner said that he would get treatment on the elbow on Thursday and attempt to hit in the cage, hoping to be available at least for defense or pinch-running. His plan is to be in the lineup on Friday against the Red Sox.
"I'd say it's about the same," Gardner said. "I was able to sleep in kind of an awkward position and keep it elevated for the most part most of the night, so I think that helped out."
If Gardner's injury lingers, it could create more playing time for Aaron Hicks. Carlos Beltran has already been shifted to semi-regular duty as the designated hitter since the team placed Alex Rodriguez on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a strained right hamstring.
"We just felt if we didn't have [Gamel], we'd be pretty short with just two guys on the bench, and one of them being a backup catcher," Girardi said. "It's one thing if you have three extra players and maybe you're losing a DH, but we lost a position player, so it makes it tricky."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.