Randy Winn: A class act

As was speculated in this space Thursday, the Yankees decided to keep utilityman Kevin Russo on the 25-man roster and designate outfielder Randy Winn for assignment to create room for outfielder Curtis Granderson’s activation from the disabled list.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi pointed to Russo’s versatility. He started five of the Yankees’ previous six games in left field and is by trade an infielder who has played mostly at second base and third base. “At this time, this is the right move,” Girardi said, “but it wasn’t an easy one.”

It never is when a manager has to tell a fine person like Winn that he has to go. Winn, who played regularly for the past eight seasons with the Rays, Mariners and Giants, was signed by the Yankees to a $1.1-million contract to be their fourth outfielder, but he didn’t quite settle into the role. He hit .213 with one home run and eight RBI in 29 games and 61 at-bats.

Winn started 12 games while Granderson was on the DL and hit .250. “He did play better when he played every day,” Girardi said.

But in his last start last Saturday night against the Mets, Winn overran a fly ball down the left field line by Angel Pagan, who was credited with a double on a ball that should have been caught. And with Granderson back, Winn would no longer be playing regularly. Even he acknowledged that when coming off the bench his production was lacking. He had one hit in 13 at-bats (.077) before Granderson went on the DL.

“I played terrible,” Winn said before Friday night’s game. “It fits. An outfielder comes in, an outfielder goes out. The balls didn’t fall in for me. When I was hitting the ball, the other team was catching it. I tried hard to make the most out of it.”

Winn was asked if his struggles were due to dealing with being a role player for the first time in his major-league career. He would not take the out.

“That’s not an excuse,” Winn said. “I had a job to do here, and I didn’t do it.”

Winn went around the clubhouse and big good-bye to his former teammates one by one and expressed no bitterness.

“This is the way the game gets,” he said. “I’ll just go home and play with my kids.”

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