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Yankees can't live without Lyle Overbay, so now he's an outfielder

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider

NEW YORK -- This is all you need to know about the Yankees' makeshift lineup:

Lyle Overbay has become indispensable.

The Yankees couldn't afford to risk losing him when they needed a roster spot Monday. The Yankees couldn't afford to keep him out of the lineup just because Mark Teixeira is now the everyday first baseman.

Two months into the season, Overbay has a .750 OPS that ranks 90th among the 167 major leaguers who have received regular at-bats. And the Yankees don't believe they can live without him.

Even if it means trying to make him into an outfielder.

Overbay was the Yankees' right fielder Monday night, even though he had never played any position but first base in any of his previous 1,375 games in the major leagues -- and didn't start taking fly balls in the outfield until two or three days ago. He last played the outfield in a 25-game tryout 12 years ago in Double-A.

"Ninety-eight percent excited, two percent scared," Overbay said.

Overbay became an outfielder because Curtis Granderson is hurt, because Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells are struggling, and because the Yankees can hardly be certain that Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis can stay healthy. They need to keep Overbay on the roster just in case -- they'd risk losing him if they tried to send him to the minor leagues -- and manager Joe Girardi believed he was a better option than Wells against Indians right-hander Justin Masterson.

Wells has been better than expected for the Yankees, but in the last 15 games he has a .313 OPS and has driven in just one run. Ichiro has a .504 OPS over his last 19 games.

Yankees left fielders have a .683 OPS that ranks 24th in baseball. Yankee right fielders have a .660 OPS that ranks 27th.

"I expect [Overbay] to add offensively," manager Joe Girardi said.

His team needs it. Over the last five weeks, the White Sox are the only American League team that has scored fewer runs than the Yankees.

"We do need to start hitting," owner Hal Steinbrenner said Monday. "They know that."

They need to start hitting. They can't live without Lyle Overbay, who was released this spring by the Red Sox.

These are the Yankees of 2013, a team with almost no stars. In fact, in American League All-Star voting announced Monday, the top Yankees vote-getter was Robinson Cano. The second-leading Yankees vote-getter was Derek Jeter, who has yet to play a game and won't until the second half of the season.

Meanwhile, Lyle Overbay is an indispensable outfielder.

 
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