When the Yankees signed Raul Ibanez, they believed he would be the designated hitter and possibly play a little in the outfield.

Yet, because of Brett Gardner's strained right elbow that has him out since April 17, manager Joe Girardi has been forced to use Ibanez more in the field than originally planned.

"I thought he was going to be the DH against righties all the time,'' Girardi said of Ibanez. "I didn't think Gardy was going to be out a month.''

Ibanez was in left field for the 17th time yesterday against former Yankee Bartolo Colon. He also started six games in right. And though that may have been more than the original plan, Girardi saw the shape the soon-to-be 40-year-old and the way he played the outfield during spring training and wasn't concerned if he asked Ibanez to play more outfield.

"When I saw him in spring training and the way he was moving,'' Girardi said of Ibanez who went 0-for-5 in a 9-2 victory. "In my mind I had him playing the outfield once a week, maybe twice a week, three times in two weeks to give some guys a blow.''