OAKLAND, Calif. -- Although everyone else around the Yankees might have anticipated that 40-year-old Raul Ibanez would be relegated to designated hitter duties for most of this season, Ibanez never thought that way.
“If it was told I was going to DH this winter and I prepared to DH that would mean I was slacking on my offseason conditioning,” Ibanez said after the Yankees’ 4-3 loss to the A’s on Thursday night.
It’s a good thing.
Ibanez is set to be the Yankees’ primary left fielder for the duration of the season now that it’s official that Brett Gardner will undergo surgery that will likely have him out for the rest of the year.
“You prepare to go out and play all the time,” Ibanez said. “I don’t understand how to not do something all out, as most players don’t. You take pride in your preparation over the winter. That’s what it’s for.”
As the left-handed hitting half of the left-field platoon, Ibanez is set to see more playing time than 35-year-old Andruw Jones, who starts against lefties.
It would be considered a tough blow for the Yankees to lose Gardner except they haven’t had him all year, and still managed to have the best record in baseball.
“Everybody just needs to go out there and just continue to do what we’ve been doing and see what happens,” Jones said.
If there is any concern about the Ibanez/Jones platoon down the stretch it could be that players’ would wear down, and be unable to maintain their first-half production. Last September, Jones hit .344 in August, followed by .229 in September. Ibanez was steady most of the season last year, and he actually hit slightly better in the second half.
“The guys have been doing a great job,” Nick Swisher said. “It’s a big loss, but we just have to hope (Gardner) gets healthy and ready for next season.”