NEW YORK -- The experiment few expected to work bore its first fruit on Sunday.
Ryan Garko got the start in right field for the Indians in the series finale at Yankee Stadium. It was his first outfield start in any professional capacity, and it was the result of a spring of experimentation in the outfield corners.
"This is a good time to do it," manager Eric Wedge said.
Originally, the Tribe had only expected to try Garko, a natural catcher converted to first-base duties in the Minors, in left field. Generally speaking, that area has less ground to cover, so the not-so-fleet-footed Garko stood a better chance of acclimating to that position. But the dimensions of the new Yankee Stadium, which are exactly the same as in the old place, make for a smaller right-field surface.
Wedge decided to try Garko in the outfield because of the logjam the Indians have behind the plate, where both Victor Martinez and Kelly Shoppach are worthy of starting duties. Martinez moves to first on the days Shoppach starts, and that was the case with Carl Pavano on the mound on Sunday. The outfield is viewed as another opportunity to get Garko's bat in the lineup.
Garko entered Sunday batting .286 (8-for-28) with no homers, two doubles and five RBIs. Wedge wanted to get him in the lineup on Sunday because of his strong numbers against Yankees starter A.J. Burnett (4-for-10, two doubles and two RBIs).
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.