ST. PETERSBURG -- Every now and then, Ichiro Suzuki will corkscrew his body on a swing that makes you raise your eyebrows a bit. But you can't read too much into it, as Yankees manager Joe Girardi has learned, because the veteran is always capable of lining the next pitch into the outfield.
"I mean, he's been doing that for years," Girardi said. "When you're hitting .330 and getting 200-plus hits, no one says a word about it. When you're not, they're going to say, 'Well, he looks [bad].' No, he's had those swings his whole career because of the way he hits."
Ichiro's 2013 season got off to a slow start, but he delivered two big hits in Tuesday's 4-3 victory over the Rays, scoring the tying run after an eighth-inning single and smoking Fernando Rodney's 99-mph fastball into center field for a go-ahead two-run single in the ninth.
"I just wanted to be ready mentally, emotionally be ready for that," Ichiro said through interpreter Allen Turner. "I swung at the first pitch and was ready to go out there."
Ichiro entered play on Wednesday batting just .220 (13-for-59), but for the series finale in St. Petersburg, Girardi promoted him to the No. 2 spot in the lineup against Rays right-hander Alex Cobb, stacking four lefties at the top because the Yanks' lineup is still without Kevin Youkilis and Girardi wanted to give Vernon Wells a day off.
Still, Girardi said that he doesn't believe Ichiro's performance after he was acquired by the Mariners last season -- a .322 average with 28 runs scored, five homers and 27 RBIs -- was a fluke.
"I see the ball in BP; it jumps off his bat," Girardi said. "I really believe he's going to hit, and I believe his at-bats have been better."
Granderson set for BP after swinging in cage
ST. PETERSBURG -- Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson took 15 swings in a batting cage on Wednesday in Tampa, Fla., as he continues to move toward returning to game action.
Granderson's next step in recovering from his fractured right wrist would be to take batting practice on the field, and then the Yankees could move him to action in extended spring games.
The Yankees have said that Granderson could return in the first week of May. First baseman Mark Teixeira is also rehabbing a torn tendon sheath in his right wrist and could return in May, but manager Joe Girardi said that he would expect to see Granderson return first.
"I think Curtis is ahead of him," Girardi said. "To me, I'm not surprised by that. The wrist is a tricky thing, but let's hope Curtis is ahead of him."
Girardi joked that he would petition the Commissioner's Office in an attempt to use four outfielders when Granderson returns, but he acknowledged that Granderson's return will impact the current roster.
"I try to worry about it when it happens instead of now, because there's a lot that can happen," Girardi said. "It will be a good problem to have."
• Kevin Youkilis (lower back soreness) could return to the Yankees' lineup for Thursday's series opener against the visiting Blue Jays, Girardi said. Youkilis was listed to take batting practice on Wednesday, but Girardi said that he wasn't sure Youkilis would do much on the field.
• Major League Baseball has made a scoring change to the Yankees' April 20 game in Toronto. Youkilis' fifth-inning line drive, originally scored a two-run single, has been changed to a dropped line drive error on Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie.
• On this date in 1917, Yankees left-hander George Mogridge pitched the first no-hitter in franchise history in a 2-1 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.