Brett Gardner is finally where Joe Girardi has wanted him.

Gardner started in center field for the New York Yankees as they won big today against the Chicago White Sox. He went 2-4 at the plate and scored two more runs.

Gardner started in center because Curtis Granderson has gone on the disabled list with a Grade Two strain of his left groin.

Considering how well Gardner has been playing and how really badly Granderson has been, the groin strain is good luck all the way around.

Anyone who reads my pieces on BR regularly knows that I have been no fan of Brett Gardner. In fact, over the winter I went out of my way to make fun of him through satiric pieces designed to point out that he had proved nothing as a major leaguer and, in fact, not much as a minor leaguer either.

But now Gardner is proving a great deal.

Through 73 at-bats in 2010, Gardner is now hitting .342 with an on-base percentage of .415. He has also stolen 11 bases in the Yankees first 24 games. And he has now scored 18 runs.

Gardner also hit a home run today, his first of the year. Gardner will never be a home run hitter, but he is making a believer out of this old cynic to the point that he really is a major league ball player.

Until now Girardi was inclined to use Gardner in a left-field platoon with Marcus Thames. Thames has been tearing up left-handed pitching. Not that Gardner would not also hit lefties, but Girardi had been using the platoon.

Gardner is now going to get a chance every day. He will play center and hit against every kind of pitcher the American League has.

And the indications right now are that no one is going to miss Granderson.

Yankee fans may still miss Austin Jackson, who is hitting .367 in Detroit. But we won’t miss Granderson, whether he is gone a month as Girardi predicted or the rest of the season.

We won’t miss Granderson. At least not if Gardner continues to prove this old man wrong.

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