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LeDee vs Spencer: Left Field Showdown

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    LeDee vs Spencer: Left Field Showdown

    It's Left Field or Left Out
    Ledee, Spencer vie for spot in Yank OF

    Daily News Sports Writer


    he Yankees are out of options on Ricky Ledee, and many of the big brains in the organization believe that's the reason he'll limit their options in a good way this spring by winning the left field job outright.

    Shane Spencer's uneven 1999 season morphed him from phenom to spare part in some executives' eyes, yet each time he rips a long drive in batting practice, Yankee eyebrows rise. Joe Torre said at the start of spring training that Spencer's potential "intrigued" him.

    So the battle for left field officially begins today when the Yankees play their first spring game. Both Spencer and Ledee, the primary candidates, will play.

    The left field gig is as wide-open as the yawning left-center gap at Yankee Stadium and Yankee brass want someone to grab it and hold it.

    "I think we have to find out who the left fielder is," Torre said. "I'm going to get a good number of at-bats for those guys and see."

    Both Ledee and Spencer had their moments last season. Ledee started slowly and got sent to the minors, but came back to hit .355 in July and August.

    Spencer went on a homer binge in late June, hitting three in four games and sparking memories of his amazing September of 1998. That's when the career minor-leaguer hit 10 homers in 27 games.

    Mostly, though, neither could take control of left field. Not that anyone has recently the last regular left fielder the Yanks had was Dion James in 1995.

    Torre said part of Ledee's problem was that he was uncomfortable, always fretting that the Yanks would send him to Columbus. That won't be a problem now. If the Yanks want to send him down now, he must clear waivers first, which would be unlikely.

    "For some reason, the options seemed to be the cloud hanging over him," Torre said. "Maybe without that he'll feel better. He always put pressure on himself to perform because we could always send him out."

    Spencer lost time to food poisoning and a heart ailment last season. He recalled lying in a hospital bed, frightened after he left a July 2 game because of dizziness.

    "That was really scary that first night," he said. "I didn't know what was going on."

    Spencer missed a month with an irregular heartbeat and said he was never the same. "You can't miss a month of baseball," he said. "You can take batting practice off a coach pitching all you want, but it's not the same. That's it. And I had been swinging the bat real well."

    Spencer also got frustrated when he returned to the bench. He says reports of his demanding a trade were blown up but did say that he would play elsewhere. "I said I didn't want to sit around," Spencer said. "I want to play every day and I want to play here."

    Both players took serious steps in the off-season to win the left-field job. Spencer played in Venezuela so his swing would be sharp for camp. "I'm feeling pretty close to how I want to feel right now," he said. "And I'm healthy."

    Ledee upped his conditioning program. "You're not going to stay in the big leagues by just going home," he said. "In the past I'd practice for two weeks before spring training. This year, I did something before Christmas and all through January.

    "I don't want anything to be given to me," Ledee added. "I want to get it and keep it."

    Original Publication Date: 03/02/2000

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    I think Ledee will win the job easily.



      I'd love to watch the competition first hand.
      Whoever wins we all win.

      Best GoYanks!
      Land of the free?
      It's all about oil.
      Pray for the proud amerikans


        Ledee seems to be the likely choice. I am not giving up all together on Spencer. Spencer may have a chance to prove that he is ready to DH for the Yankees. We shall see.
        With Roberto Kelly in the mix it will be interesting.

        At least the YANKEES will be choosing between talented players rather than simply trying to figure out "the least terrible alternative.

        If you don't like the YANKEES go to another sight.


          give them both a shot. i'm not going to give up on spencer, the kid has potential. but as far as the starting job goes, i think its ledee. he's proven he can do it, but there's nothing wrong with giving spencer a shot.

          bthl's #1 fan
          pres. of the bthl fan club

          I am sad to see you go but keep your hopes up and something good will happen to you. Don't go out there not knowing what you want or people will take advantage of you, so take charge and be on your merry way.
          CB 6/99


            It should be very interesting, but I think Ledee will win out! Spencer could give some time off to # 21 when he needs it and DH. Watch out for Kelly, he might surprise all of us!



              Ledee seems to have showed up ready to play this spring.

              The only thing that surprises me about Roberto Kelly is that another team did not offer him a better contract. I wonder if he choose to take a lesser contract from the YANKEES for the opportunity to play in the Bronx again.

              If he does not make the YANKEES roster I would be surprised if he did not end up on another MLB teams roster. Kelly is better than plenty of the starting outfielders on lots of major league teams.

              From my point of view the mets have three open slots waiting for him.

              Seatle could use him. He would be a big improvement for them.

              I will be very surprised if Kelly does not play this year......somewhere.

              If you don't like the YANKEES go to another sight.


                I have a feelin' in my bones that this is gonna be Ledee's BIG year. Spencer should still get a shot though. I wouldn't my autographed Spencer ball to go to waste now would I?

                We're the Yanks and we're on the top,

                We sweep out the opposition with a broom and mop,

                Give the bat to Bernie, he ain't shy,

                Every single year we get a by,

                Jeter divin on the dirt, makin the double play,

                Mets fans, close your eyes, 'cause today is a Yankee day!


                  Ledee has better defense and I think that he hits better (woo, that bat speed, baby!), so my pic would be LEDEE ALL THE WAY!

                  "Seventy-five percent of my life is basketball. The other twenty-five percent of my life is my bum. That's where I spend my Saturday nights..." Coach Eric "Jeter"