Heading into his third at-bat of the day against the Tigers on Saturday, Raul Ibanez was batting an abysmal .051 this spring -- two hits in 39 at-bats.
But with one seventh-inning swing against Detroit starter Max Scherzer, Ibanez hopes he jump-started a turnaround.
The 39-year-old blasted the first pitch he saw in that at-bat, a fastball, over the center-field wall for a two-run home run, part of the Yankees 4-2 victory in 10 innings.
"It felt good," Ibanez said. "It felt good to be able to make a left turn [around the bases] instead of a right turn [toward the dugout]."
Ibanez revealed that he did some extra hitting on Friday under the tutelage of both hitting coach Kevin Long and former Yankee great Reggie Jackson. "It was very helpful. Today I felt a lot better."
"Just everything," he added, when asked what felt different. "I felt like I was in a better situation to hit, and a better position to take a good swing."
Manager Joe Girardi said he thought he noticed Ibanez pressing a little bit. "It’s good for him to get that hit like that for us, and drive the ball like he’s capable of doing,' Girardi said.
With the Yankees facing a lefty on Sunday, when the Tigers bring a split-squad to Tampa for an afternoon game, Girardi will instead have Ibanez get six or seven at-bats against minor leaguers on Sunday morning.
When asked, Ibanez couldn't recall having a spring quite like this one. But two years ago, as a member of the Phillies, Ibanez batted just .130 in spring training, and finished the regular season with 16 home runs, 83 RBIs, and a batting average of .275 -- just five points below his current career average of .280.
Then again, Ibanez will be turning 40 on June 2. Time catches up with everyone, eventually.
KNICKED UP: Backup catcher Francisco Cervelli was removed from the game in the top of the seventh inning, after he was hit by a pitch in his shin. Cervelli had an ice-pack on the shin after the game, but said he is fine.
WELCOME BACK: David Robertson is scheduled to pitch in Sunday's game against the Tigers -- only his second appearance of the spring, and first since March 5, after suffering a bone bruise on his right foot in a household mishap.
After Robertson came through a simulated inning on Friday just fine, Girardi deemed him ready for an appearance in a real game.