Lakeland, Fla. — Johnny Damon didn’t get to play Wednesday, but Curtis Granderson made the play of the day in the first meeting between the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers since their winter exchange of outfielders and pitchers.
Granderson’s catch against the center-field wall robbed Miguel Cabrera of at least an RBI double in the fourth inning, keeping the Yankees in the game before Greg Golson hit a two-run home run in the ninth off Phil Dumatrait to give them a 9-8 victory.
“That catch was a dandy, or should I say that was a Grandy?” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
Detroit’s center fielder for six seasons before he was traded to the Yankees on Dec. 9, Granderson singled in his first two at-bats and also walked.
“On the bus ride over here, I was just wondering how it was going to go, and everything went pretty good,” Granderson said. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect. In spring training they kind of cheer everybody. I’m thankful for it.”
Damon, who signed a one-year contract with the Tigers after playing a key role in the Yankees’ World Series victory, was scratched from the lineup after stubbing his right big toe on Tuesday. The 36-year-old outfielder spent much of Wednesday reminiscing with his former teammates.
“I got to see a whole bunch of them and, secretly, they all miss me,” said Damon, whose only regret is that only one of his four seasons in New York ended with a championship.
“I wish I could have walked away after winning four championships,” he said. “We definitely are on good terms; they’re just doing things the way they want to and I have to do it my way. It’s a little different for some people, but when it’s all said and done, at least I can say I did it the right way also.”
Gerald Laird’s grand slam off Yankee starter Joba Chamberlain gave the Tigers a 6-3 lead in the third inning and knocked Chamberlain out of the game. Trying to win the open spot in the Yankees’ rotation, Chamberlain gave up five hits and three walks in 2 1-3 innings.
“There’s no panic button, but there’s a sense of urgency. Trust me,” said Chamberlain, who threw 48 pitches. “There’s a lot of things that I did good, there’s a lot of things I did wrong … I can’t worry about what everybody else did. I worry about myself and I know what I need to get prepared.”
Manager Joe Girardi said he thought Chamberlain “ran out of gas.”
“He made some mistakes inside.”
Phil Hughes relieved Chamberlain and worked 2 2-3 innings, giving up a home run to Ryan Raburn.
Mark Teixeira’s first spring home run came off former Yankee Phil Coke, putting the Yankees up 3-0 in the top of the third.
Detroit starter Armando Galarraga gave up two runs in two innings.
Notes: Mariano Rivera threw 34 pitches of batting practice in Tampa on Wednesday morning and is expected to pitch in his first exhibition game next Tuesday or Wednesday. … Damon, who said he would have played Wednesday if it had been the regular season, will probably DH on Thursday at Clearwater. … Jacob Turner, Detroit’s first-round draft choice last June, struck out three Yankees in the fourth inning, including Teixeira after loading the bases with two walks and a hit batsman.