Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Updated: March 30, 7:30 AM ET
Curtis Granderson (oblique) improving
By Wallace Matthews
TAMPA, Fla. -- It is still undetermined who will play center field for the New York Yankees when the season opens Thursday, but Curtis Granderson says he feels better about his chances to make it to the opener after a workout at the Yankees' minor league complex Tuesday afternoon.
"Everything feels good," Granderson said after taking "six or seven" at-bats in a simulated game against a variety of pitchers, including Phil Hughes.
Granderson has been sidelined for a week by a strained internal oblique on the right side of his abdomen and had not swung a bat against live pitching since the injury.
"Faced lefties, righties, everything felt good," Granderson said. "Swings and misses, check swings, all good. So I'm even more excited about tomorrow, and if everything's good, I'll get out of there Wednesday night."
Granderson originally injured himself checking a swing in batting practice, so the fact he was able to check a swing Tuesday without pain was a sign that he is close to being ready to play Thursday against the Detroit Tigers and Justin Verlander. Weather permitting, Granderson plans to play in a minor league game against the Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday and then join the Yankees in time for the opener.
Granderson's availability will have a significant effect on the Yankees' Opening Day lineup. If he is OK, expect the lineup to look similar to the one that faced the Tigers in the spring training finale on Tuesday, only with Brett Gardner sliding back to left field from center and Andruw Jones returning to the bench.
If Granderson can't go, then Gardner becomes the starting center fielder, Jones the starting left fielder, and new acquisition Chris Dickerson, who played in the same simulated game with Granderson and declared himself recovered from a slight hamstring strain, on the team as the reserve outfielder.
Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.