The Yankees now have one too many outfielders, a problem that any team would love to have. With the return of Curtis Granderson, someone will have to be the odd man out of the rotation between Vernon Wells, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki.
With the way Vernon Wells has played, he certainly will not be losing any significant playing time as he has become a vital part of this offense. The real battle will be between Gardner and Ichiro. Both play with the same style, although Ichiro did it at a much higher level in his prime. At this point, they are virtually the same player offensively. Gardner’s ability to get on base at a much higher rate, as he draws much more walks than Ichiro, and his speed will most likely give him the edge in this battle. Look for a starting outfield of Wells, Granderson and Gardner in the weeks to come.
This overload in the outfield allows Girardi to rest the veterans which will keep them fresh for the entirety of the season. It will also strengthen their bench and give them some much-needed depth along with it. Having the likes of Ichiro or Gardner coming off the bench on a given day provides speed for a pitch runner, a solid defensive replacement or a hitter who will put the ball in play. All of which will be huge in meaningful games down the stretch.
I ultimately think this is a win-win situation for the Yankees. Sometimes when these situations arise players egos get in the way of the team concept and refuse diminished roles. I don’t see this happening with these players as they all seem to accept their roles for what they are and are willing to do what it takes to be apart of a winning team.