Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/17/12

Brett Gardner has appeared in just nine games for the Yankees this season, and none since injuring his right (non-throwing) elbow attempting a diving catch on April 17.

As general manager Brian Cashman said Sunday, the Yankees barely have missed the speedy outfielder and lineup pest because of the presence of two aging players whose skill sets won't be confused with Gardner's at this stage of their careers.

Veteran outfielders Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones have combined for 23 home runs and 62 RBI while mostly sharing the left field spot in Gardner's absence, with a few at-bats at designated hitter sprinkled in for each player.

Ibanez crushed a tiebreaking grand slam in the eighth inning Monday night to lift the Yankees to a 6-3 victory over Toronto at Yankee Stadium.

"Raul's gotten a lot more time out there as opposed to just being the DH, but it's probably helped his numbers and helped him be productive," manager Joe Girardi said. "We expected him to play well, and we've always liked him as a hitter ... but he's come up with some huge hits for us."

Indeed, the 40-year-old Ibanez has hit 12 home runs this season. Five of them have given the Yankees a lead, and eight of them have come in the sixth inning or later.

"You play the game to get in situations like that," Ibanez said of his 10th career grand slam. "In the backyard as a kid, you're thinking bases loaded, two outs, bottom of the ninth inning, whatever it is."

As for Gardner, who hasn't appeared in a game for the Yankees since April 17 due to a strained right elbow, he suffered another setback Monday. He experienced soreness during a simulated game at the team's minor league complex in Tampa.

"It's puzzling ... and it's a concern," Girardi said.

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