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Yankees hoping Brennan Boesch turns into gold

03/18/2013 12:57 PM ET
By Jon Lane

The Yankees are taking a chance on Brennan Boesch hoping he meets his potential.(AP)
Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees are hoping for the proverbial lightning in a bottle with Friday's signing of Brennan Boesch. The former Detroit Tigers slugger became available when the Tigers released him due to a glut of outfielders, but he was also batting .188 with no RBIs in Spring Training coming off a .240 campaign with 12 home runs, 54 RBIs and a .659 OPS in 132 games, which left him off the Tigers' postseason roster.

When evaluating Boesch, the Yankees outlined the positives and emphasized another proverbial word, potential. Boesch, 27, finished fifth in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2010 (.283-16-54) and hit 16 homers with a .799 OPS his sophomore season. He's also had success at Yankee Stadium (.363-3-16, .907 OPS in 22 games), which has a tantalizing right-field porch suited for Boesch's lefty stroke.

Depending on which Boesch shows up for the rest of Spring Training and -- assuming he makes the team since he has options remaining -- this represents one of those low-risk, high-reward signings the Yankees have collected in the wake of injuries to Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira. The Yankees bought low on lefty slugger Travis Hafner, who will strictly DH, and inked Ben Francisco (off waivers), Juan Rivera and the since-released Matt Diaz to Minor League deals. But in Boesch's case, hopes are high the Yankees stumbled upon a gold mine who can rediscover his stroke.

"This is a game where timing can be everything, and we're just hoping maybe we get lightning in a bottle," Cashman said. "Gene Michael taught me you sift through the nuggets and you separate the gold from the rest of the debris. And we're just trying to get as much sifting as we can get and hopefully we'll run into some gold."

Boesch debuted on Saturday, going hitless in three at-bats, but rebounded the next day with two hits and an RBI in three appearances. His presence gives manager Joe Girardi some options to mix-and-match, and compensate for Granderson's absence, in the outfield. At the least, Boesch will platoon with Francisco in right field, but Girardi also noted Boesch's career .286 batting average against left-handers compared to .250 versus right-handers.

"Obviously, the better you play, the more opportunities you get," Girardi said. "It's a young man who's got a lot of opportunity, and we hope he's going to be a good fit."

Granted an immediate chance to resurrect a young career, Boesch is getting his chance with all the chips in place. He's signed to a Major League contract with every opportunity to impress. He's a power bat that if recharged will be an asset at Yankee Stadium. And he arrived with a chip on his shoulder, eager to prove to the Tigers and everyone what they will be missing.

All Boesch has to do is strike gold so the Yankees can catch lightning.

"This organization speaks for itself; I wasn't looking at depth charts or opportunity, my agent told me they were interested and I said get it done, and I'm here," Boesch said. "I've always been somebody that believes your talent will dictate your status and you have to earn the opportunity to play, so that's what I plan to do."

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNYC

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