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Yankees activate Curtis Granderson

NEW YORK -- New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson appeared in his first regular-season game on Tuesday, but did so in an unfamiliar position.

Granderson, out since fracturing his forearm in his first spring training at-bat, was activated prior to Tuesday night's game against the Seattle Mariners. Yankees manager Joe Girardi put Granderson in left field and batted him cleanup.

"I'm as ready as I can be for that," Granderson said.

Granderson was flawless in the outfield in the Yankees' 4-3 victory against Seattle. At the plate, he went 0-for-3, but did score a run.

During his minor league rehab, Granderson played both right and left, as well as center. He said his biggest adjustment will be dealing with major league stadium lights. Granderson played left field briefly as a member of the Detroit Tigers early in his career.

Even with Granderson returning, the Yankees still had more negative injury news. An MRI on Travis Hafner's right shoulder revealed tendinits. Though Hafner thinks he will be out until at least Thursday, he was pleased the injury was not worse.

"That was pretty much the best-case scenario," Hafner said.

Hafner, who will turn 36 next month, has only played more than 100 games in a season once since 2008. He entered Tuesday with the Yankees' second best OPS at .893.

"It came out as good as we could have hoped for," Girardi said after the game. "He's going to be OK."

Since the spring, the Yankees have gone back and forth trying to decide if they wanted to move Granderson from his previously regular position in center field. Ultimately, they decided the team would be better defensively with the faster Brett Gardner manning the middle of the outfield.

With Granderson's return, Girardi is faced with a pleasant problem of four outfielders for three spots. Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and the resurgent Vernon Wells all figure to receive playing time.

Wells has excelled since coming over from the Los Angeles Angels in the spring. Wells entered Tuesday hitting .299 with nine homers and 22 RBIs in 36 games. Wells is the only right-handed hitter of the four outfielders.

On Tuesday, Wells was the team's designated hitter against Felix Hernandez, while Ichiro was in right against his old club.

"They are all going to play a lot," Girardi said. "That's the bottom line."

To make room for Granderson, rookie lefty Vidal Nuno, who impressed with five scoreless innings in his first major league start on Monday in Cleveland, was sent back to Triple-A Scranton.

"I don't think we would have any hesitation about calling him back up," Girardi said.

Instead of sending down Nuno, the Yankees could have designated Ben Francisco for assignment. The right-handed Francisco is hitting .128 in 39 at-bats. Francisco's days still could be numbered because the Yankees might call up infielder David Adams on Wednesday. Girardi declined to comment on if the team would or not.

In 2012, Granderson, 32, hit a team-high 43 home runs. After the 2013 season, he can become a free agent.

The Yankees' initial plan going into spring training was to experiment with the alignment of Gardner in center and Granderson in left. When Granderson got hurt, Girardi first told him they would not try the position change.

However, Girardi, along with general manager Brian Cashman, ultimately decided to have Granderson try playing right and left field on his rehab assignment.

"I understand that things are going to change," Granderson said. "This is baseball. You have to be able to adapt accordingly and sure enough that's been happening."

To protect the right forearm, Granderson wore extra padding when he hit. He also had a new hand pad to protect the bones he has broken twice in his career. He will also wear a new elbow pad.

"I might as well be safe than sorry," Granderson said.

Granderson is the first of the Yankees' injured stars to return to the majors. The team still has Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis, Ivan Nova, Joba Chamberlain, Eduardo Nunez, Francisco Cervelli, Michael Pineda and Cesar Cabral on the disabled list.