GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

February 11, 2011

Yanks' Granderson aims to continue progress at the plate

By Erik Boland
Newsday

TAMPA, Fla. — Curtis Granderson's description of his first season with the New York Yankees pretty much mirrored most people's.

"It had some ups, it had its downs," the centerfielder said Friday at the minor league complex. "But we made it through."

Granderson started 2010 slow, was further slowed by a left groin strain that kept him shelved for most of May, slumped badly upon his return, but had a strong finish to his season, including in the playoffs.

He finished the regular season hitting .247 with 24 homers — a career high — and 67 RBI in 136 games.

"Stat-wise, they are what they are," he said. "I never read too much into them. If I would have batted .500, if I would have batted .005, same thing I just looked at it as, was I helping the team win ballgames and sure enough, we made it to the playoffs so I was able to help in some way."

Granderson's hope for 2011 is to continue the progress made starting in mid-August when hitting coach Kevin Long adjusted his swing.

It was not makeover, Granderson said, more a case of simplifying his swing by cutting down on excess movement.

"We don't need a lot of moving parts," Granderson said. "As long as we're in the right spot, as little movement as possible and get ready to attack the baseball."

Granderson hit 10 homers and drove in 26 runs in his final 30 regular-season games and was among the team's postseason standouts, hitting .357 (10-for-28) with a .514 on-base percentage and .607 slugging percentage. After Aug. 12, Granderson hit .286 against lefties. Before that he was hitting .206 against them.

He spoke with Long earlier this week and is looking forward to getting started.

"It's always great just to get outside again," Granderson said. "The gym is great, I can do everything I need to. But it still doesn't simulate the sky and the size of the field and the intensity of the coaches and other players. It's always good to get down here."

Granderson, who spent 10 days last month in New Zealand as an MLB Ambassador — he's traveled to Europe, South Africa and China in previous offseasons — said he was "excited" about the Yankees' offseason, even though it didn't include Cliff Lee.

"There's a lot of pieces that aren't here that everybody in baseball would have loved to had, for example Cliff Lee or (Andy) Pettitte," Granderson said. "But I feel the moves we made were great. I feel what we had last year, in coming up short against Texas, is pretty much coming back again with a couple added pieces that should hopefully get us over that hump to put us where we want to be."

Notes & quotes: INF Eric Chavez, who spent the previous 13 seasons with the Athletics before agreeing to a minor league deal with the Yankees Feb. 4, took grounders. Chavez, 33, has played in a total of 64 games the last three seasons because of various injuries. The Yankees hope he might be able to spell Alex Rodriguez in the field a couple of days a week. Chavez has a more immediate goal. "Stay healthy," he said. "A lot of people were asking me, coming into this situation obviously with (Jorge) Posada as the DH, (Mark) Teixeira, A-Rod, but coming to a place where expectations aren't too high — it's more realistic to think that I can play in two or three games per week than five or six. I'm just going to try to keep myself healthy and show them I can swing the bat a little bit and see what happens." . . . RHP Mark Prior, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2006 and was signed during the winter to a minor-league deal, worked out at the complex.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.