BOSTON — If this was Brett Gardner’s last stand with the Yankees, it ended in unceremonious fashion.
But the only Yankee left from the franchise’s last World Series in 2009 hopes that’s not the case after Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to the Red Sox in the American League wild-card game at Fenway Park.
“I hope that I’m back next season,” Gardner said. “Obviously that’s not really on my radar right now. Just trying to process all that went on and this season that just finished.
“Right now, if I had to answer, I hope I’m back in that room and I hope I’m in Tampa come February. But there’s obviously a long time between now and then and a lot of things that need to get figured out. We’ll see what happens.”
Gardner went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in the final game of his 14th season as a Yankee. He was on the on-deck circle when Gleyber Torres flew out to right field to end the game.
The 38-year-old re-signed with the Yankees late last offseason on a $4 million contract that technically lasts two years with a $2.3 million player option for 2022. The Yankees could also buy him out if they choose to go in a different direction.
While Gardner was still processing the loss late Tuesday night, he said the decision-making process would soon kick in, starting with conversations with his family.
“They have obviously sacrificed,” Gardner said. “This game has been great to me and great to my family, but the longer you play and the older your kids get, the harder it gets and the more things I miss out on and not being able to see them back home doing their thing. And obviously makes it harder to be together all the time and things like that.
“Physically I feel healthy and I feel strong and feel like I can continue to play this game at a high level. Obviously this season did not end the way we wanted it to, for myself or the team, but I do still feel like I have a lot to give. But right now, not as worried about next year and what the future holds as I am just trying to process this and be with my teammates, be with my brothers and try and lick our wounds a little bit.”
Gardner entered the season expected to be a fourth or fifth outfielder. Instead, he played in 140 games during the regular season — including 113 starts — as the Yankees’ outfield was besieged by injuries.
After a rough start to the season offensively, Gardner finished the year batting .222 with a .689 OPS. Those numbers were lifted by hitting .261 with a .792 OPS over the final two months of the season.