There may not have been the pomp and circumstance that normally accompanies the moment, but Curtis Granderson's season debut Tuesday had him feeling like he was in April.
"It was just like another Opening Day," Granderson said. "Nerves coming into it, since it's the first game of the 2013 season, to be here in Yankee Stadium for the first time since last season, all those different things ran through in terms of emotions and excitement. Get the first ball, the first at-bat, get the first game out of the way, definitely a bit of a relief. Now we move forward and get back to just playing baseball."
After missing the first 38 games of the season due to a fractured forearm, Granderson returned to the Yankees lineup in Tuesday's 4-3 win over Seattle. Granderson went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored, and started in left field for the first time as a Yankee and fourth time in his career.
"He looked fine to me; I thought he got deep into counts," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Looked good in left field to me. I was happy with what I saw."
After suffering the fractured forearm in spring training, Granderson has been rehabbing to get back and help an ailing Yankees lineup. The team slotted him in the cleanup spot Tuesday night, and while he didn't record a hit, he scored the team's first run in the sixth, and had a pivotal walk in the team's three-run, seventh-inning rally.
With the game tied at 3-3 in the seventh and Robinson Cano on second, Seattle lefty Charlie Furbush intentionally walked Vernon Wells to get the lefty-on-lefty matchup versus Granderson. The Yankees' slugger stayed patient at the plate and earned a walk to load the bases, and Lyle Overbay followed with a sacrifice fly to drive in the winning run.
"You have to stick with your plan and approach," Granderson said of his walk. "If that same situation somehow pops up in the first inning, it's a little bit different since it's the first time around. Since it was my fourth at-bat, things were a little bit simpler, not necessarily easier, but in terms of approach and sticking to the plan and watching him to pitch to other guys up there. It made my focus a little bit easier and trust what I wanted to do."
In left field for the first time since Oct. 2, 2005 with Detroit, Granderson didn't look fluid at all times but made the necessary plays. The Yankees are electing to play Granderson, their starting center fielder last year, in left, while keeping Brett Gardner in center. Granderson was tested early by having to retrieve a double and catch a line drive to his left.
"It was interesting," Granderson said. "As the game kept going on, kept getting more and more comfortable out there and continued to talk to Gardner out there, obviously he's played left field, now he's in center field. It made things a little bit easier to go but there's going to be some new challenges each day out there but we made it through."