Derek Jeter Could Be Moving Down in Yankees Lineup, Loses Leadoff Spot to Brett Gardner Against Rays

Derek Jeter Could Be Moving Down in Yankees Lineup, Loses Leadoff Spot to Brett Gardner Against Rays TAMPA, Fla. – Derek Jeter may be losing his spot atop the New York Yankees' lineup.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi is tweaking his lineup over the final two weeks of exhibition games, and one of the first adjustments is having Brett Gardner hit leadoff against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Girardi moved Gardner from ninth to first in the lineup for Thursday night's game with the Rays, with Jeter dropping to second spot.

Jeter batted first 137 times last season. The Yankees captain was in the two-hole on 18 occasions.

Gardner was first in the lineup in the other 25 games during 2010. The outfielder, who hit in five different spots overall last year, got his most appearances (56) in the ninth position.

"Just a little different look," Girardi said. "See what it looks like. Now's the time to do it. Lead off Gardy and see what that looks like. With Gardy, he gets on base a lot. He takes a lot of pitches. What's the value of having him getting another 70, 80 at-bats. That's what you look at."

Gardner has been working on bunting and cutting down on his strikeouts. He fanned 101 times in 477 at-bats last season.

"Something I want to improve on, taking swings in better counts," Gardner said. "Try and put more balls in play. If I put the ball in play, I've got a chance."

Gardner hit .277 and stolen 47 bases in 150 games during the 2010 season.

Jeter is hitting well over .300 in spring training games as he continues adjusting to a batting stance that no longer includes striding with his front foot. The shortstop hit .270 last year, which is 44 points below his career average.

"We signed Jeter to be a top of the order hitter," Girardi said. "That's what we signed him to do. I think he's going to get back to what he did (before last season)."

Also, Yankees reliever Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay's closer last season, threw one inning in a minor league intrasquad game.

"I don't like to pitch (in spring training) against teams in the division," said Soriano, the primary eighth-inning setup man for closer Mariano Rivera. "It's been working for me. I'm not changing."

NOTES
RHP Sergio Mitre (left-side upper-body muscle soreness) is scheduled to pitch out of the bullpen on Friday. He was scratched from his start on Monday night against Boston. … RHP Leonel Vinas, who signed a contract in December after playing for Hank's Yanks, a youth team sponsored by Yankees' co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner, threw a scoreless inning in a minor league intrasquad game.

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