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Yankees Postgame Notebook: Overbay adjusting to right field

06/05/2013 6:06 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

To keep Lyle Overbay in the lineup, the Yankees have moved him to right field, where he has succeeded so far.(AP)
Roughly 72 hours ago, Lyle Overbay was in peril of losing his spot on the roster with Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira back and Andy Pettitte scheduled to come off the disabled list to start Monday’s game.

But, as you know by now, it was Brennan Boesch who was sent to Triple-A Monday afternoon and Overbay who got a new gig as the Yankees’ right fielder.

For the first time in his Major League career – and first time at all since playing in Double-A in 2001 – Overbay made a start in the outfield, a possibility first posited by one of the YES Network’s own.

"It was brought up to me by Jack Curry as you guys saw, like a week or two ago,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday. “(Jack said) 'Hey, is it possible to see him taking fly balls,’ and no one had brought it up to me other than him at that time. And still, no one brought it up to me, until that rain delay."

The rain delay he speaks of came Sunday night when Yankees brass had a couple hours to try to figure out exactly what would happen when Pettitte was activated.

"I came down, and Joe (Girardi) and the staff and I had a meeting to talk about (what we would do Monday),” Cashman said. “The staff presented to me with Joe about Overbay playing right field; it caught me off guard, but I was like alright, if that's what you want to try to do and you guys believe he's capable, we'll try it."

And so, on Monday, Overbay had a nine next to his name. Playing right field for the first time, he said he was “either 98 percent excited and 2 percent nervous, or 2 percent excited and 98 percent nervous. I’m not sure which.”

Three games later, Overbay has made the most of all of his chance so far and says he’s getting more and more comfortable as the days go on.

“I’m getting there, yeah… I think the biggest thing is just repetition and knowing a little bit about how the pitchers are going to throw,” Overbay said. “I still rely a lot on (Brett Gardner) and Robby (Cano) to position me.”

Gardner played two of the three games against the Indians in center field, and he agreed that Overbay has succeed in right field so far, even saying that his own job hasn’t been made any harder just because of Overbay’s inexperience.

“Not at all, and it helps that he got eased into it at home. It’s less ground to cover and probably the shortest right field in baseball,” Gardner said. “He looks great out there, and I’ve talked to him a lot and helped move him around from pitch to pitch. He feels comfortable out there.”

With that, however, comes a potential peril: the Yankees are now headed to Seattle, where right field – and the outfield in general – is much larger than in the Bronx. However, Overbay isn’t worried about Safeco Field or any other out-of-town locales, chalking up his lack of concern to not knowing any better.

“I don’t necessarily know this turf too much, either, other than it’s short,” Overbay said. “(I’m more concerned with) just getting used to knowing where I’m at and getting as much repetition as possible, and little things like knowing where I am when I get to the warning track.”

Whether the Overbay experiment lasts another few games or a few months, though, Overbay is proving you can teach an old dog new tricks, and at 36 years old, he’s going to enjoy that learning curve.

“It’s fun…this is the time of my life so I want to enjoy it,” Overbay said. “I think if I was younger I’d probably be more nervous, but this is icing on the cake.”

And, with Overbay heading to Seattle hitting .251 with eight homers and 29 RBI, keeping him around is surely icing on the cake for a Yankees offense that has struggled of late but seems to be coming out of that malaise after sweeping Cleveland.

“The biggest thing is the timely hitting we’ve gotten and getting some runs in,” Overbay said on that front. “Our pitching has been great, so it’s just a matter of concentrating our offense so that when we go through those slumps, we can manufacture some runs and get out of it.”

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