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2016 New York Yankees Preview: Outfield

NY Daily News

NY Daily News

As my 2016 New York Yankees preview concludes, so does the offseason as pitchers and catchers have reported to spring training. With plenty to talk about in Tampa, Florida, I turn my attention to the Yankees outfield.

It is no secret that the Yankees will need major production from 2015 All-Star left fielder Brett Gardner and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. The two are the catalysts of the Yankees offense, but struggled down the stretch for the Yankees in 2015. Ellsbury, who missed a month and a half with knee injury struggled with hip and oblique issues as well.  In 111 games in 2015, the former Oregon State Beaver hit just .257 with 7 home runs and 33 RBI. The Yankees need Ellsbury to stay healthy in 2016 and need his power numbers to increase from 2015.

Gardner on the other hand was a tale of two halves. Named a 2015 All-Star after finishing the first half of the season hitting .302 with 10 home runs and 42 RBI, Gardner helped set the tone for the Yankees also stealing 15 bases in the first half. Following the All-Star break, Gardner was nothing short of atrocious hitting .206 with 6 home runs and just five stolen bases. Gardner appeared in 151 games in 2015 and will have to stay consistent if the Yankees want to make a run in October.

With the acquisition of switch-hitting outfielder Aaron Hicks from the Minnesota Twins, the Yankees have added much needed depth to the outfield. In 2015, Hicks hit .256 for the Twins with 11 home runs and 33 RBI. Regardless of numbers, Hicks can play all three outfield positions and can hit from both sides of the plate. He will be able to start against any pitcher and will give any outfielder a day off, especially 38-year old right fielder Carlos Beltran.

In 2015, Beltran hit .276 with 19 home runs and 67 RBI in 2015 and is looking to continue his success in the final year of his contract as he discussed his offseason training program with me.

“I got up in the morning and hit from 11-2,” Beltran said. “From 2-4 I wen to the weight room and got in a workout. I did that from Monday thru Friday and physically I feel good right now. I am happy where I am at.”

As a veteran guy, Beltran is looked at as a leader in the organization and has already shown great leadership among his new teammates.

“I had the chance to call the new guys and welcome them to the Yankees family,” Beltran said. “I let them know that whatever they want to know about the city or the organization I am available for whatever they need.”

As for if Beltran will play another year?

“My main concentration is to work hard help the Yankees win ballgames,” the 38-year old said. “Once the season is over I will see what I have and if I feel like I can play more than I will play more and if I decide I have had enough then I will go home.”

Beltran has been criticized for his defensive play as his age has grown, but the Yankees need his bat in the lineup, and with Alex Rodriguez as the permanent designated hitter, Beltran will be working in right field again in 2016.

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