Brett Gardner’s struggles at the plate this season have only been a footnote to the Yankees’ overall lack of offensive production from their center and left fielders.
After going 2-for-33 in the past 15 games, Gardner is about to wrap up an underwhelming first half of the 2021 season. The 37-year-old had hit .189 this season with just three home runs and 11 RBIs entering Friday night. While Gardner is the longest-tenured member of the 2021 Yankees, it is apparent he has not been able to contribute as he once did.
Heading into the first of a three-game series Friday night in Houston, Gardner hadn’t registered a hit yet this month. Manager Aaron Boone, however, said he believes Gardner is heading in the right direction.
“I do feel like with Gardy, over the last month, he has started to gain a little bit of traction and getting going a little bit after struggling the first couple months of the year,” Boone said Friday. “Hopefully, he’s coming.”
The Yankees have been thin in the outfield since center fielder Aaron Hicks suffered a season-ending wrist injury, for which he underwent surgery at the end of May. Plus, Clint Frazier, who began the season as the starting left fielder, has been on the 10-day injured list to undergo further testing for his vertigo symptoms since July 2.
Hicks, who posted four home runs and 14 RBIs in 108 at-bats prior to his injury, has left a gaping hole in the production the Yankees usually get from their outfielders. The Yankees have yet to figure out how to clear that hurdle, and their offense has suffered as a result.
“Obviously, not having [Hicks] is big for our club,” Boone said. “Just because of [his] switch-hitting … the lefty kind of breaks up our righties. We’ve certainly missed that and our offense has been hurt by a lack of production from a few positions that we need to get a little bit more out of.”
At the end of last month, general manager Brian Cashman specifically acknowledged that the Yankees’ lack of production in left field “has been a problem.” But it is clear Cashman isn’t planning on turning to the likes of Trey Amburgey, Estevan Florial or Hoy Jun Park from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as a solution.
Boone opted to deploy Tyler Wade, who was recalled from Triple-A on Thursday, in left field and batting ninth Friday. Wade was demoted last weekend, but was brought back up after pitcher Michael King was placed on the injured list for a finger injury.