Jones, Ibanez stepping up in Gardner's absence

Jones, Ibanez stepping up in Gardner's absence

Jones, Ibanez stepping up in Gardner's absence
NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi was still waiting on opinions from Drs. James Andrews and Timothy Kremcheck on Wednesday morning regarding Brett Gardner's MRI, but he was able to confidently pencil Andruw Jones into the lineup in left field.

Jones hit his 12th homer of the season in Tuesday night's 6-1 win over the Blue Jays and fifth in his past 10 games, as he platoons in left field with Raul Ibanez, creating a tandem most expected to be restricted to designated hitting. The lineup looks different with the 35-year-old Jones and 40-year-old Ibanez than it would with 28-year-old Gardner, but it works.

"[Gardner] can always make things happen. He can steal bases, he plays tremendous defense in the outfield. He's missed," Jones said. "When they call our names, we've just got to go out there and get the job done. With Gardner out, me and Raul have got to get the job done until he gets back or whatever happens. When Brett comes back, we can come off the bench."

But the Yankees have no idea when or if Gardner will be back after he suffered a third setback earlier this week in his return from a right elbow strain. Girardi acknowledges Gardner is the one player who makes his lineup a little more dynamic with his speed, but the veterans Jones and Ibanez provide pop.

The pair combined for 63 starts in left field entering Wednesday's series finale against the Blue Jays and hit 14 homers, drove in 35 runs and scored 31 in that time. Jones hit an early three-run homer in Tuesday's win. Ibanez hit a go-ahead grand slam late in Monday's victory.

"When you can platoon your left fielders in a sense and get a ton of production from them -- and it's not just singles, they're home runs with RBIs -- it really helps," Girardi said.