Ichiro Suzuki has won 10 Gold Gloves as a right fielder.
But the Yankees have asked Suzuki, one of the best outfielders of his generation, to switch spots.
On Wednesday, Suzuki made a regular-season start in left field for the first time in his 11-year MLB career. (His only other start in left came in Game 5 of the 2001 ALCS, in the Bronx.)
As you might imagine, everything went fine against Baltimore. Suzuki made a nice leaping grab at the wall on a Mark Reynolds drive in the top of the sixth, and generally fielded the position well. The only blemish (though it would be a stretch to describe it as such) was that Suzuki couldn't haul in J.J. Hardy's drive off the top of the left field wall in the seventh.
With Nick Swisher healthy and set to return to right field, you can expect to see Suzuki in left field on a regular basis.
The veteran has been preparing for the switch since he was traded to the Yanks, shagging flies during batting practice in left field and doing extra drill work with coaches.
Still, Suzuki admitted after Wednesday's game that it will take some time before he gets fully acclimated to life in left.
He noted that the angle of a fly ball is different in right than left (they hook toward the line in both cases). Another difference is the large real estate that Suzuki will be expected to cover in the Bronx (left field is much larger than right at Yankee Stadium.)
Though, as Joe Girardi noted, having an athlete the caliber of Suzuki in left should benefit the Yanks.
“This is a guy that has 10 Gold Gloves, he’s a talented outfielder," Girardi said. "With all his experience, we feel that he can (handle left field) and he’ll do a good job.”
QUESTION: What do you think? Obviously Ichiro can handle himself in left, but are the Yankees better off leaving him in his natural position?
UP NOW: Ian O'Connor has a column on Joba Chamberlain. In the blog, Wallace Matthews has Phil Hughes and A-Rod covered. He will also hit you with an off-day story. I have items up on Sonia Sotomayor's trip to the right field bleachers and Casey McGehee's Bronx debut. Later this morning, Katie Sharp will provide you with some YankeeMetrics.
ON DECK: The Yanks are off Thursday. Check the site for Sharp on the blog and an off-day story by Matthews.