Gardner More Comfortable Second Time Around

SCRANTON, PA - Brett Gardner has adjusted very well in his second season at every level during his time in the Yankees organization. That same trend seems to be consistent as Gardner already looks to have improved since the conclusion of the 2007 season.

In Gardner's first stint in Scranton Wilkes-Barre, he batted .260 and scored 37 runs in 45 games. In rough half as many games this season, he has produced a .299 batting average with 9 of his 26 hits going for extra bases.

These adjustments have allowed the outfielder to find success early on this season following similar success in the Arizona Fall League and in Spring Training.

"I was excited going into Spring Training after the success I had in the AFL," said Gardner. "I was able to continue that in Spring Training."

Gardner acknowledged much of that success he's found early this season comes from an increase in comfort compared to last year.

"I felt more comfortable my second year in Trenton last year," admitted Gardner. "It's the same thing this year. Just coming here after Spring Training, I know what to expect. It's a comfortable surrounding. I'm confident."

That confidence is showing as Gardner is producing in key game situations for Scranton Wilkes-Barre, such as batting with runners in scoring position. This season, the speedster has found himself batting .364 with runners in scoring position and with two outs. When you combine those numbers with a solid .286 batting average with runners on, it's easy to see the comfort level has indeed helped.

Gardner understands the need for constant improvement, however, and continues to work on his overall game. Being more aggressive at the plate in 2008 is one of those changes.

"In the past, I've been a guy who takes a lot of pitches. In the AFL and in Spring Training, I've been working on being more aggressive early in the count."

Though becoming more aggressive at the plate is a big part of the North Carolina native's game plan, he knows he can't let it take away from his ability to utilize patience at the plate.

"I still have to make sure I see pitches as a lead-off guy. There's a fine line between seeing a lot of pitches and being aggressive," he said. "It's not easy to do because of how the game's going, and who's on the mound. The situation dictates what kind of at-bat you need to have."

While it isn't easy, Gardner believes this aspect of his game is crucial to his development, and he plans to continue to work on it.

"It's not the easiest thing to do. I'm definitely still working on it to try and figure out the best way to approach that."

Gardner isn't just battling with himself to find a fine line between his batting approach, he's battling time as Jose Tabata and Austin Jackson work their way up the system. Both Tabata and Jackson are younger and highly touted as a big part of the Yankees future.

"Those guys are both really good players. Maybe a different kind of player than I am, but they're both trying to do the same thing I am, get to the big leagues. I definitely don't have to look too far in the rear view mirror to see them behind me," he acknowledged.

Knowledge of such talent not trailing far behind you might be motivation for some, but Gardner doesn't believe he needs anymore motivation.

"I don't think I need any extra motivation. I have enough drive that I need to work hard to get where I want to be."

With the Bronx a short car ride away from Scranton, Gardner knows his opportunity could be sooner than later. A trip to the Bronx is unlikely to be in a starting role this season, but the possibility of playing off the bench doesn't bother the centerfielder one bit.

"I think anyone in my shoes, who hasn't played in the majors, you just want to get there. That's been my dream since I was a kid," he said with a smile.

Still, Gardner believes he has the ability to provide any team with a spark, and give them the opportunity to win.

"I'm competitive; I want to be on the field every day. I feel like I can help the give the team a chance to win. If I do get up to New York or wherever it is, that's a decision that they'll have to make," he said. "Whatever decision they decide to make, that's what I'm going to prepare to do."

His mindset has not changed since last season. Every day is just another step in working towards the ultimate dream - a spot on a major league roster.

"Whether it be now or tomorrow, I'm just going to have to continue to work hard and improve my game. I just have to work on every aspect of my game. Hit, hit, hit, keep working on all things, and show them that I'm ready whenever the time comes," he concluded.

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\r\n \r\n\r\nIn Gardner's first stint in Scranton Wilkes-Barre, he batted .260 and scored 37 runs in 45 games. In rough half as many games this season, he has produced a .299 batting average with 9 of his 26 hits going for extra bases.
\r\n
\r\nThese adjustments have allowed the outfielder to find success early on this season following similar success in the Arizona Fall League and in Spring Training.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was excited going into Spring Training after the success I had in the AFL,\" said Gardner. \"I was able to continue that in Spring Training.\"
\r\n
\r\nGardner acknowledged much of that success he's found early this season comes from an increase in comfort compared to last year.
\r\n
\r\n\"I felt more comfortable my second year in Trenton last year,\" admitted Gardner. \"It's the same thing this year. Just coming here after Spring Training, I know what to expect. It's a comfortable surrounding. I'm confident.\"
\r\n
\r\nThat confidence is showing as Gardner is producing in key game situations for Scranton Wilkes-Barre, such as batting with runners in scoring position. This season, the speedster has found himself batting .364 with runners in scoring position and with two outs. When you combine those numbers with a solid .286 batting average with runners on, it's easy to see the comfort level has indeed helped.
\r\n
\r\nGardner understands the need for constant improvement, however, and continues to work on his overall game. Being more aggressive at the plate in 2008 is one of those changes.
\r\n
\r\n\"In the past, I've been a guy who takes a lot of pitches. In the AFL and in Spring Training, I've been working on being more aggressive early in the count.\"
\r\n
\r\nThough becoming more aggressive at the plate is a big part of the North Carolina native's game plan, he knows he can't let it take away from his ability to utilize patience at the plate.
\r\n
\r\n\"I still have to make sure I see pitches as a lead-off guy. There's a fine line between seeing a lot of pitches and being aggressive,\" he said. \"It's not easy to do because of how the game's going, and who's on the mound. The situation dictates what kind of at-bat you need to have.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile it isn't easy, Gardner believes this aspect of his game is crucial to his development, and he plans to continue to work on it.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's not the easiest thing to do. I'm definitely still working on it to try and figure out the best way to approach that.\"
\r\n
\r\nGardner isn't just battling with himself to find a fine line between his batting approach, he's battling time as Jose Tabata and Austin Jackson work their way up the system. Both Tabata and Jackson are younger and highly touted as a big part of the Yankees future.
\r\n
\r\n\"Those guys are both really good players. Maybe a different kind of player than I am, but they're both trying to do the same thing I am, get to the big leagues. I definitely don't have to look too far in the rear view mirror to see them behind me,\" he acknowledged.
\r\n
\r\nKnowledge of such talent not trailing far behind you might be motivation for some, but Gardner doesn't believe he needs anymore motivation.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't think I need any extra motivation. I have enough drive that I need to work hard to get where I want to be.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith the Bronx a short car ride away from Scranton, Gardner knows his opportunity could be sooner than later. A trip to the Bronx is unlikely to be in a starting role this season, but the possibility of playing off the bench doesn't bother the centerfielder one bit.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think anyone in my shoes, who hasn't played in the majors, you just want to get there. That's been my dream since I was a kid,\" he said with a smile.
\r\n
\r\nStill, Gardner believes he has the ability to provide any team with a spark, and give them the opportunity to win.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm competitive; I want to be on the field every day. I feel like I can help the give the team a chance to win. If I do get up to New York or wherever it is, that's a decision that they'll have to make,\" he said. \"Whatever decision they decide to make, that's what I'm going to prepare to do.\"
\r\n
\r\nHis mindset has not changed since last season. Every day is just another step in working towards the ultimate dream - a spot on a major league roster.
\r\n
\r\n\"Whether it be now or tomorrow, I'm just going to have to continue to work hard and improve my game. I just have to work on every aspect of my game. Hit, hit, hit, keep working on all things, and show them that I'm ready whenever the time comes,\" he concluded.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

Are you a monthly or 3-month subscriber to PinstripesPlus.com? Why not get two months free AND get 4 issues of our PinstripesPlus Magazine, including our special Yankees Prospects Guide, included by becoming an annual subscriber? Upgrade today to get the most out of your subscription. Time is running out to get the 2008 Yankees Prospects Guide - only a few copies remain!

\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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