Granderson: Don't call me a power hitter
June, 14, 2012
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com
ATLANTA -- Curtis Granderson has now hit 60 home runs in his last 218 games, 41 last year and 19 so far this year, and even though he is slightly behind last year's pace -- he had 20 at this point of the 2011 season -- is once again on pace to hit at least 40 homers, a level that would lead most to consider him a bona fide power hitter.
But not Granderson.
"Math is just crazy like that," he said in the Yankees' clubhouse on Wednesday night after his two-run homer in the sixth inning provided the winning margin in a 3-2 victory over the Braves. "It just ends up being that way. It just ends up happening from time to time. I get lucky. Sometimes they happen to get out of the ballpark."
He might be playing coy, or he might still be having trouble believing that in this era of giant, muscular sluggers, a guy with the body of Hank Aaron -- who hit a few homers in his day -- "could keep pace with the Jose Bautistas and the Josh Hamiltons of this world.
In fact, if you ask Granderson to describe what type of hitter he thinks he is, this is the answer you get:
"Still in progress. I want to get to the point where I can go out there and consistently understand what my plan and approach is. I'm still playing and battling with that. The ability to drive the ball into the gaps. The ability to get base hits. I can still bunt from time to time. Hopefully draw a walk from time to time. And I have the ability to leave the ballpark. But definitely not going to be too one-sided."
But even if Granderson doesn't consider himself a slugger, he is the closest the Yankees have to one right now; the nearest teammates (Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano)" are each eight home runs behind. Granderson's home run off Tim Hudson was a blast into the right-field seats on a 1-1 pitch with Derek Jeter aboard. It was also the first home run Hudson had allowed in 49 innings, and only the second he had surrendered all year.
But whether Granderson considers himself a home run hitter or not is beside the point. The numbers say he is, and the numbers say he is essentially the same hitter he was last year, when he hit more bombs than any hitter in baseball other than Bautista, who had 43.
Power is not a worry with Granderson; what could be is the fact that he has not had a day off yet this season, mainly because the Yankees do not have a true backup center fielder. And with Brett Gardner likely to be out significantly longer than he already has been -- he will be examined on Thursday by Dr. Tim Kremchek in Cincinnati -- Granderson's next day off could be a long way off.
Granderson says he not concerned about that. "I haven't had that consistent stretch where I feel completely locked in," he said. "I don't necessarily feel terrible, but it hasn't been like, just let me get out there, I don't care who happens to be throwing. I had it for a spurt through the course of last year, but I just haven't gotten it this year."
It looks as if he'll get plenty of more chances to find it.