First Pitch: Return of the Grandy Man

The Yankees have missed Curtis Granderson's home run power this season. Elsa/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES -- Even before Curtis Granderson took a J.A. Happ fastball off his right forearm in his first at-bat of spring training in February, the New York Yankees had already lost more than 150 home runs to free agency and injury.

When Granderson went down with a broken right arm, he took another 43 homers with him, the number he led the team with last year. And when, in just his eighth game back, he took another pitch and broke another bone -- this one in his left hand -- it certainly looked as if those home runs might be gone for good.

Curtis Granderson

Curtis Granderson

#14 LF
New York Yankees

2013 STATS

  • GM8
  • HR1

  • RBI1

  • R5

  • OBP.323

  • AVG.250

But it's three strikes and you're out in this game, and Granderson has had only two. Friday night in San Diego, the Grandy Man -- who hit more home runs than any player in baseball (84) over the 2011 and 2012 seasons -- is expected to return the Yankees' lineup for the first time since May 13. If nothing else, the return of Granderson should ease the sting of finding nothing under the Yankees' trade-deadline tree Wednesday.

"It's almost like making a trade when you get him back," manager Joe Girardi said.

Granderson played a rehab game for Double-A Trenton on Wednesday, going 1-for-3 with a pair of walks. He was 4-for-15 with a triple and three walks in five rehab games, and now he is ready to go for real. It's still not clear where Granderson will play -- the Yankees are happy with Brett Gardner in center -- or where they will slot him into the lineup. But like the addition last week of Alfonso Soriano, Granderson adds a dimension that has been missing from the Yankees' lineup: the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark.

That should at least provide some protection in the order for Robinson Cano and Soriano, and for the first time all season give an opposing manager someone else to fear in a lineup that has been dotted with too many automatic outs.

"Curtis has been a vital part of our offense," Derek Jeter said. "He's a guy that can change the game with one swing. We're looking forward to him coming back, but just because Curtis is back doesn't mean we can sit back and relax. Everybody has a job to do and everyone needs to do it."

But now, that job might get just a little bit easier.

Question:Do you think the return of Granderson will make a significant difference in the Yankees' offense?

Up now: The Rapid Reaction from Wednesday night's rousing 3-0 win, as well as a postgame blog on the man who seems to have a knack for delivering in the clutch this season, Lyle Overbay.

On deck: A day off for the Yankees but not for us. Andrew Marchand and I will be following all the developments with Alex Rodriguez, who might be facing a long-term suspension now that the trade deadline hoopla has passed. So check in all day for updates on that and whatever else might break in the rapidly changing Yankees universe. And as always, thanks for reading.