DETROIT -- Curtis Granderson certainly had plenty of company in the strikeouts department on Monday at Comerica Park, but the Yankees center fielder is no stranger to the swing and miss.

Granderson had three of the Yankees' 14 strikeouts against Justin Verlander in a 7-2 loss to the Tigers, giving him a team-leading 133 for the season. For the second time in as many years, Granderson could set a franchise record, as last year's total of 169 is within sight.

"I'm just swinging and missing a few more times than I have in the past," Granderson said. "I've done all the same things I've done in the past -- choke up with two strikes, spread out a little more with two strikes, try to just put it in play. Sometimes I'm just swinging and missing."

Last year, Granderson shattered Alfonso Soriano's club record of 157, set in 2002. But the Yankees accept Granderson's strikeouts as part of his package, just a necessary evil to go along with his team-leading 29 home runs.

"It's not something that's new to him," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's kind of what you get with Grandy. He's going to hit home runs and he's going to score runs, but he's going to strike out, too. It's who he is."

Girardi has been toying with Granderson in the leadoff spot against right-handed pitchers, and though it's not ideal to have a leadoff hitter who strikes out often, Girardi is willing to make that move with a nod toward Granderson's on-base percentage.

"To me, the important thing is probably how much he gets on, right? Not how he makes his outs," Girardi said. "So the important thing is how often he gets on against right-handers, and he's done a pretty good job of that."

Granderson paced the American League with 174 strikeouts in 2006 with the Tigers, but he's third in the AL this year behind White Sox slugger Adam Dunn (159) and the Rays' Carlos Pena (138).

Granderson has said in the past that he'd like to cut down his numbers in that category, but he seems to be accepting of the totals as part of the cost of doing business.

"You definitely don't want to go up there and strike out, but if it happens, it's just part of the game," Granderson said. "There's not going to be a time where anybody in this game is not striking out throughout the course of a season.

"That's just part of it. You give credit to the pitchers; they do a great job with two strikes of being able to put more hitters away than they have in the past. It's a mixture of a lot of different things of why guys do strike out, including myself."

Eppley's 'header' draws laughs from Yanks

DETROIT -- Cody Eppley says he doesn't even have a bump on his head to show for his comical moment in Tuesday's game, but the Yankees reliever is now certain to appear on blooper reels for years to come.

Eppley was struck on the top of the head by Eric Chavez's toss in the sixth inning of New York's 6-5 loss to the Tigers. Eppley was fine, laughing the mishap off, and he seemed embarrassed that so much attention was being paid to it.

"It got me almost square on top of the head; it was a good throw," Eppley said.

Jhonny Peralta had grounded out to third base for the second out of the inning, thanks to a nice scoop by Mark Teixeira at first base, and the Yankees were tossing the ball around the infield. Home-plate umpire Bob Davidson tossed a new ball to Eppley, which Chavez didn't notice.

"Normally, he looks up," Chavez said. "I don't know what happened, to be honest with you. Obviously he got a new ball, which I didn't know. I apologized. Of all the places to hit him, right in the head."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he was initially concerned, but Eppley's laughter quickly eased that.

"You worry about that, when a guy gets hit in the head with a ball," Girardi said. "Luckily, Chavy didn't throw it hard. I've seen it from an umpire at times. I don't know if I've ever seen it from a third baseman."

Eppley certainly didn't expect anything to be coming from the third-base side of the diamond, but he'll probably give a quick glance next time just to be sure.

"[Davidson] was giving me another ball, so I didn't think anything of it," Eppley said. "I just turned around and put my head down. Next thing you know, Chavy is saying my name right as it hit me on top of the head."

Ichiro's leadoff days mostly behind him

DETROIT -- Joe Girardi has heard the cries that Ichiro Suzuki could serve as the Yankees' leadoff hitter, but the manager isn't strongly considering writing the veteran's name there on a consistent basis.

Girardi tried Ichiro as the leadoff hitter on July 25 in Seattle, with Derek Jeter hitting second, but the manager says that Ichiro figures as a better fit in the lower third of the Yankees' order.

"As much as you'd like to say he's getting on base 40 percent of the time, he's not," Girardi said. "It's about 31 percent of the time."


Indeed, Ichiro entered Tuesday's game against the Tigers with a .307 on-base percentage against right-handers. Girardi pointed out that Curtis Granderson, Jeter and Robinson Cano have all done a better job of getting on base against righties than Ichiro, who is batting .240 (12-for-50) with a home run and two RBIs through his first 13 games as a Yankee.

"If it were three or four years ago, it's probably a different story," Girardi said.

Girardi marvels at Jeter's AL-best hits total

DETROIT -- Derek Jeter entered play on Tuesday leading the American League and ranking third in the Majors with 142 hits, a statistic that would be notable even if the Yankees captain hadn't turned 38 this year.

"I think that is impressive," manager Joe Girardi said. "When you're leading the American League at any age, it's impressive, because there are a lot of good hitters in this league.

"Just look at the two guys that are here, [the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder]. You look at what [Jeter] did once he got by that 3,000 hits, it's just kind of carried over for him."

Since July 7 of last year, the day after his 3,000th hit was logged on a homer off the Rays' David Price, Jeter has batted .319 (227-for-712) with 11 homers and 71 RBIs.

Bombers bits

• With all right-handers scheduled to start for the Tigers, Eric Chavez will get a day off from playing third base during this four-game series in Detroit, Girardi said.

"You look at the way he's played -- defensively, offensively -- he's held up pretty good," Girardi said.

• The Yankees' 14 strikeouts against Verlander on Monday were their most against a single pitcher since Pedro Martinez recorded 17 strikeouts for the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 10, 1999.

• On this date in 1962, Tony Kubek hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat after returning from military service, leading the Yankees to a 14-1 win over the Twins. On this date in 2007, Joba Chamberlain made his Major League debut, throwing two scoreless innings in a 9-2 Yankees win at Toronto.