Of course, a few days after the team reported to spring training (days in which an impish Aaron Boone was inundated with Gardner questions), there he was yet again, ready to begin his 14th season in the bigs with the Bronx Bombers.
This year, though? Everything’s a little bit different.
Though Gardner’s a cockroach in the best way, he’s not entering 2021 with a starting job or the promise of consistent playing time at any one spot.
Heck, he even started Friday’s spring game in right field. That’s not normal. He’s only done such a thing once in his career — back in 2014, in what would later become known as the Michael Pineda Game, thanks to the visible pine tar on the righty’s neck.
What stuck out most to us as different, though? Gardner’s classic swing, which appears to have gotten an offseason makeover.
Did Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner make over his swing this offseason?
Could it simply be the camera angle? It…couldn’t, right?
Gardner appears to be plainly uppercutting now, with both hands on the bat all the way through the swing’s progress. What used to be a one-handed follow-through towards the right-field bleachers now appears to be a heftier clout. Unless I’m going insane?
Gardner’s old swing used to provide surprising pop, but featured more of a quick-twitch smack into right, which occasionally struck the ball exactly right and resulted in impressive carry, but usually gave us line-drive home runs. Most importantly, the hands thing stands out.
Don’t believe us? Check out this Gardy walk-off from 2017, where his bat ends up only situated in his right hand.
Now check this year’s vintage again — the grand slam Gardy struck last weekend for his first spring training Party serves as a solid example.
This two-handed clean-and-jerk resulted in a monster bomb to right field.
Our instinct from the start was that something was different, and the videos aligned next to each other confirm that story.
In accordance with his new utility role, Gardner has changed his mindset while letting Clint Frazier lay claim to the left field job.
Perhaps he’s also unlocked a bit of extra power in the process, too.