In the major leagues, one man's misfortune is often another man's opportunity.
When Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson went down recently with a strained groin, Brett Gardner (College of Charleston) went from platooning left fielder to everyday center fielder.
And he's making the most of his chance, batting .345 and ranking among American League leaders with 13 stolen bases. The speedy Gardner had hit safely in nine straight games through a 10-3 win at Boston on Friday night, and has batted .371 in his last 10.
"I felt all along that Gardy was an everyday player," Yankees manager Joe Girardi told MLB.com recently. "He's hit left-handers all the way throughout, and he's comfortable in there ... I love what he brings to the table."
Gardner has become a fan favorite at Yankee Stadium, striking a strongman pose when fans chant his name in the first inning of home games.
"My main job is to get on base, whether it be a hit or a walk," Gardner said. "I can make them speed things up on the infield, and when I get on base, I have a pretty good chance to score with the guys who are hitting behind me."
--Texas Rangers first baseman Justin Smoak (USC, Stratford High School) is warming up to the big leagues. Smoak had hit safely in his last seven games through Friday, moving his average up to .200 through 15 games since his call-up from Triple-A. He cranked his third big-league homer Thursday night against the Royals … Orioles catcher Matt Wieters (Stratford HS) homered three times in five games last week, once against the Red Sox and twice against the Yankees.
--Winston-Salem outfielder Justin Greene (Francis Marion/Stratford HS) was named the Carolina League's player of the week for April 26-May 2, going 11 of 19 (.579) over that stretch … Double-A Reading pitcher Mike Cisco (USC/Wando HS) has been placed on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right elbow … Reese Havens (USC/Bishop England HS) has started quickly since coming back from injury, batting .333 with two homers in eight games while rehabbing at the Mets' Class A St. Lucie farm club.
--Third baseman Dallas McPherson (The Citadel) got off to a fast start at Triple-A Sacramento, with two homers and 12 RBIs in the first seven games, but is on the DL with a strained hamstring … The Pirates' experiment with making a closer out of former first-round pick Daniel Moskos (Clemson) seems to be working. Moskos is 6 of 6 on save opportunities at Double-A Altoona, with a 1-0 record and 0.73 ERA … Michael Kohn and Jesse Simpson, both from College of Charleston, also look like promising closers; Kohn is 1-1 with a 0.71 ERA and two saves at Double-A Arkansas, while Simpson is 2-0 with a 3.34 ERA and four saves at Class A Quad Cities.