April 2009

Kimberly Jones chat

Will Kimberly Jones ever do Maxim? Who is her favorite shirtless Yankee? Will she be Mike Francesa’s permanent partner on WFAN? She answers all this and more in her live chat below:
 
<a href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php?option=com_mobile&task=viewaltcast&altcast_code=fb62bf2558″ >Chat with Kimberly Jones</a>

Swisher delivers … and Bruney too

A final post from Motown.

Congrats to Girardi for win No.100 as Yankees manager. Loved how he said he wished he could have gotten it in one season.

Swisher was off the chain in postgame. Taking a page from Damon, he did the interview shirtless. And was a riot. He says he plays the game like a glorified game of whiffle ball. Maybe that’s why he always seems to be having a great time. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when you have a killer on-base percentage and a couple of jacks from either side of the plate.

joba250_043009.jpgJoba and Hughes could be very, very good for each other in this rotation. Joba identifies so well with the veteran pitchers, but it just seems like he and Hughes could be a great tandem — and could push each other at times — for years and years to come.

This is a first: I am blogging from the team charter.

So is this: Phil Coke just walked by and said, “I haven’t had a fire drill since high school.” Everyone is very happy. (Coke gave permission to blog that.)

And this: After saying he would contribute to this little endeavor of ours, Bruney has asked to chime in. Here is what he wrote:

“A promise is a promise, so here I am following through on that promise. My recovery is going well. I hope to play catch on Friday and should be back pitching within a week and a half if all goes as planned. I hope everyone enjoys the blog, I know Kim works hard at it. I will keep in touch!” (That rocks! And, yes, Bruney himself typed those words.)

And, finally, this: Our live chat, 6:45 p.m. tomorrow! Talk to you then!

A happy Hughes

Get ready to chat!

The only thing any of us really need to know: The first live chat is less than 24 hours away! We’ll get it started at 6:45 p.m. tomorrow and hope you can be there. Internet guru Kevin Sullivan will walk us through the first one. Thank goodness. Feel free to watch our pregame show and participate in the chat simultaneously :-)

It’s so cold here. Fifty degrees feels like 40.

Interesting that Girardi didn’t rule out two possibilities during pregame: That Alex could return during the upcoming homestand and that Joba could — could — return to the bullpen at some point this season. Girardi could have said “no” to either question. He did not. Hmmm. You have to think Hughes will play an instrumental role in the latter.

I asked Jim Leyland to estimate the impact of putting Alex into this Yankees lineup. “Tremendous,” he said.

hughes300_042909.jpgSpeaking of Hughes: He is (still) just 22 and appears to have bounced back beautifully from a disappointing 2008. Between 3:30-6:30 p.m., he did some running, chatted easily with reporters, signed autographs, interacted with fans and smiled. Smiled a lot. I always feel good for players who face adversity, don’t sulk, pick themselves up and have great attitudes. Put Cano in that category, too.

Guess the Posada hamstring really was of “no concern.” He’s behind the plate.

Melky’s in center again. Girardi essentially said he has no regular center fielder at this point. He prefers to think of it as four guys to play three outfield positions. When Damon or Swisher needs a day, Melky and Gardner both will be out there. Girardi has had a conversation with Gardner, telling him to maintain his confidence and stay ready.

Gardner seemed to enjoy a pre-batting practice card game with Bruney and a couple of others.

The Tigers have had decent attendance so far, which is great to see in this economy, particularly in Detroit. It was strange, even disconcerting, Monday to read dueling headlines in the Detroit Free Press: More layoffs by the car manufacturers while the Lions give Matthew Stafford $41 million in guaranteed money. Stafford faces an incredible task — and that doesn’t include just quarterbacking the woeful Lions. He’ll have to show he identifies with the community here.

Credit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch with a fantastic gesture, having installed the logos of Chrysler, General Motors and Ford above the Comerica Park scoreboard. “The Detroit Tigers support our automakers,” reads the sign below. Ilitch is providing the advertising for free, despite offers from other sponsors to pay up to $2 million for that prime real estate. That’s a tremendous move by the owner of the Tigers. Maybe Ilitch should counsel Stafford.

This is kinda embarrassing, but I’ll share: So, Damon introduces me to a guy named Chris in the clubhouse around 4 o’clock or so. We said hello. He looked slightly familiar, but I didn’t really think twice, other than to make a mental note that it was somewhat unusual for a player to have a random guest in the clubhouse before a game. Then Cone tells me it’s Chris Chelios of the Red Wings. Oops! Bad, bad job by me. It’s a good thing — make that great thing — YES doesn’t do hockey.

Yes, we Can-o!

cano_250.jpgIn what possibly could qualify as a jinx, we mentioned Cano’s 14-game hitting streak to him tonight during our InnerView on Batting Practice Today presented by Audi. He didn’t want to talk about it. Please, baseball gods, let him get a hit in this game.

Cano was very, very impressive — and honest — when we spoke. He has matured, looks at last year as a lesson learned and is grateful to Kevin Long for working with him tirelessly, including in the Dominican during the offseason. (A lot of players love K-Long.) It was Cano who brought up the “lazy” tag – one he hates and knows he has to prove wrong. He’s well on his way.

Ate in the press dining room tonight and had chicken, potatoes and salad. Not bad. Cone’s drinking coffee, and I think Kenny ate with John and Suzyn earlier.

Miguel Cabrera looks like he can hit in his sleep.

The Tigers probably wouldn’t have released Sheffield if they’d somehow foreseen the abdominal injury to Marcus Thames. (Which would have been impossible.) Right after Sheffield got his 500th home run, Leyland called him, and Sheffield returned the call. They still have a good relationship. And the Tigers recently sent a representative to New York to present Sheffield with a crystal trophy recognizing the milestone.

A story in the Detroit News yesterday was so sad: Tinker Bell, a 6-pound Chihuahua, got caught up in 70 mph winds and blew away during storms Saturday. The News reported, “Witnesses last saw the dog airborne…” (Seriously, that’s what it said.)

Well, guess what? Tinker Bell was found! About three-quarters of a mile away from home. She’s back home with her 72-year-old owner. Hooray!

By the way, big start tonight for Hughes, eh? He wasn’t in the clubhouse yesterday, and starters almost never talk on the day of their start, so the media didn’t talk to Phil prior to his outing about the pressure to stop a four-game skid, about any nerves he might be feeling. We think the Yankees liked it that way.

One more thing worth mentioning. I just noticed some comments questioning Posada and his running to first after pinch-hitting last night. We learned today that Posada has a sore hamstring and said he didn’t want to pull it running. He first felt it while stretching — yes, stretching — prior to Sunday night’s game in Boston. Posada isn’t in the lineup tonight. He said he can hit and squat but feels it when he runs. He also said it is “no concern.” You can bet the Yankees will be keeping tabs on it, but Girardi said Posada is available to pinch hit tonight and could catch.

Shoulder issues bugging Damon?

Minutes before the pregame, a Yankees fan probably in his 40s walked down the steps of Comerica Park and stood almost directly in front of me. Wearing a full Yankees uniform. Stirrups and all.

Hysterical. And curious. Very curious.

Stating the obvious: The Yankees have no time to lick wounds from their beating in Boston. They haven’t had much sleep, either. They got to their hotel between 3:30 and 4 a.m., depending on whom you ask. At least C.C. flew ahead. So he didn’t have to watch that carnage firsthand and should have gotten a solid eight hours of shuteye.

It’s a warm, pleasant evening in Detroit but Jeter claims there are showers in the forecast. I told him he was being negative.

Mark Melancon is an impressive young pitcher and seems to have it together, based on the two-minute pregame interview we did. Girardi loved how he went directly after hitters, even with the bases loaded; if he continues to do that, Melancon will be here for a while. Girardi also was highly impressed that Melancon coaxed “Mikey Lowell” into a weak groundball with the force at home. Whenever a pitcher limits the damage from Lowell, it impresses Girardi. He loves Mikey Lowell.

leylandblogjones042709.jpgJim Leyland is a truly an original. During his pregame session with reporters in his office, he asked if anyone else wanted a cigarette. No takers, some amusement. Later, before ending the session, he asked “if any of you closet smokers” want a cigarette. No takers, more amusement.

Damon says his left shoulder is barking, which isn’t great news on April 27. He also says he might have to play the rest of his career with a barking shoulder.

Checking in from Motown

burnett_250.jpgThis is one of those strange evenings where the Yankees are playing on ESPN, and yours truly is already in the next city on the schedule. Detroit.

The past two games have been exhausting for the players. And probably some viewers. Not sure if you tuned in, given the beautiful weather and the fact that YES didn’t have the Saturday game, but A.J.’s postgame was pretty compelling. He was upset with himself about pitch selection at critical moments – including the Varitek home run – and blamed solely himself, not Posada. (Actually, he was upset with himself, period. Pitch selection was a contributing factor.) He lines up to face the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium a week from Tuesday. That will be an intriguing start.

Not surprisingly, Damon is out of the lineup after getting beaten up yesterday by the scoreboard on the Lowell double.

Yikes! The Red Sox’s numbers against Pettitte are scary. And the Yankees need about eight innings from Andy.

In the short term, it seems the Sox are better with Youkilis and Lowell than they would have been with Teixeira and Youkilis. If Alex can come back from hip surgery the way Lowell has, the Yankees will be thrilled.

I find Pedroia incredibly likable. I just do.

The Yankees will be a very tired group when they play the Tigers at 7 p.m. tomorrow. And no, no one’s looking for sympathy. It’s just the way it is.

In hindsight, I wish I’d asked Buck and McCarver what they ate before the FOX broadcast yesterday. Can you imagine how that question would have gone over?

Today’s flight from Newark to Detroit (yes, I stopped in Jersey) might have been one of the most annoying in history. The two guys behind me were gabbing like women – we can say that – for the entire two hours. About every single person who works in their office. About the one guy’s carpal tunnel syndrome, which is exacerbated by his having very small hands. (Fella, you might want to keep that to yourself.) About how the carpal-tunnel guy burned his hand when he accidentally picked up a cast iron skillet from the stove, and he treated it with cold water then ice. On and on and on.

Something tells me our friend, Pete Abraham, is going to have a very interesting travel night/morning. Let’s hope he blogs about it. (Of course he’ll blog about it! He blogs 34 times a day!)

So much for those shadows…

7:27 p.m.

So much for hitters having trouble with shadows. Guess the Burnett-Beckett matchup really was a draw. An 8-8 draw. The only question is whether the first round of the NFL draft ends before this game.

Actually, there are other questions. Stay tuned for postgame.

5:30 p.m.
Glorious day in Boston! Let’s play nine! Emphasis on nine.

The game has started and soon the hitters won’t be able to see a thing because of the shadows. Jeter and Nick Green — separately — were talking about that before the game.
Well, the shadows didn’t bother Swisher, 1-0 Yankees.

kimblogcody042509.jpgOkay, lots of pregame updates. And, since we didn’t have a pregame show, we’ll put it here.

Ransom was placed on the 60-day DL. He has a right quad injury that Girardi said is significantly worse than the quad strains sustained by Jeter and Alex last year. He’ll have tests Monday in New York. Ransom worked so hard, and so long, for this opportunity, that it’s a shame this hasn’t worked out better for him.

Angel Berroa is here and will play third on an everyday basis until Alex returns. It’s a new role for Berroa, who had yet to log a full inning at third in the big leagues before today. Said Girardi: “We like the experience of Berroa” over Ramiro Pena.

Bruney was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained flexor mass in his right elbow. It’s a muscular ailment; Girardi said the MRI indicated Bruney’s ligament is fine. The treatment will include a week of rest before he starts throwing. Girardi figures the whole deal might take “two-to-three weeks, depending on how he reacts.”

The Yankees will miss Bruney. They already do. He will rejoin the Yankees team for the rest of the trip. Girardi said “we’re going to have to mix and match” in the eighth inning for now.
Mark Melancon was called up for the first time and his will be a much-anticipated debut. He’s not scheduled to arrive in Boston until about 5:30 p.m. “He’s a guy we’ll probably try to ease into it a little bit,” Girardi said. To make room for Melancon on the 40-man roster, Humberto Sanchez was released.

Holy smokes! The Jets moved up to take Sanchez!

With Wang on the 15-day DL, David Robertson was recalled. He threw strikes and was effective during the home opener. He was smiling ear-to-ear today, saying he got the call at 12:30 a.m. He and Berroa flew in late this morning from Rochester, where the AAA Scranton/WB Yankees were playing. (Melancon was on a later flight because the decision on Bruney wasn’t made until later.)

Girardi said Wang will continue to pitch in extended spring games while he rehabs his hips with an exercise and strengthening program of undetermined length. And he said it will “probably” be Hughes who makes the start Tuesday against the Tigers. (That means it will be Hughes.) And it might be Hughes for the duration of Wang’s absence. “You don’t call a guy up to make one start,” Girardi said. “(And we hope) he pitches like he has down there” at AAA.

The NFL draft appears to be moving at a nice clip. It’s still kind of strange that it doesn’t start at noon. Is Crabtree slipping?

4-0 Yankees, Burnett looks very good. Neither Beckett nor the shadows are bothering the Yankees. So much for the pitchers’ duel.

See you on the postgame.

Bromance brewing in Boston?

What a day. Good game so far. And it was Taco Night in the Fenway Park Media Dining Room.

Ay caramba!

jeter_pedroia_250.jpgBatting practice was fun on the field. The players really seem to get along well; Pedroia, Youkilis and Ortiz were among those yucking it up with some Yankees. I can’t vouch for whether the Jeter-Pedroia-Youk bromance embers still burn from the WBC, but Pedroia did say Jeter is the one player who isn’t a Red Sox that he’d like to play with. (Please note of the phrasing by Pedroia.)

A little preview for tomorrow: A.J. is pumped for his start against former Marlins teammate/good buddy Josh Beckett. A.J. has completely embraced being a Yankee and being a part of this rivalry. “It shows what you’re made of,” he said. “I love it.”

Posada will catch A.J. tomorrow, Girardi said this afternoon. A.J. and Molina have had a great thing going. (FOX will have the game. We’ll have postgame.)

Wang is headed to the DL unless the medical people somehow advise otherwise for a guy coming off a foot injury, whose velocity is down and mechanics are messed up. Not to mention his confidence, which is shot.

Chances are, it’ll be Phil Hughes making the Tuesday start in Detroit. We’ll have to get an update on his blog from him. Girardi said Hughes’ location has been great, and he’s been working on his changeup and cutter. The AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees are 12-1, so a lot of guys are pitching well there.

So the boos for Teixeira weren’t so bad, huh? If Alex plays games in the first week of May – as Cashman said — it would seem his return might be a few days before the target of May 15, but not as early as some people in and around the Yanks were predicting.

Somehow Joba doesn’t look like Joba when he’s a starter. He’s walking a tightrope tonight, isn’t he? But those double plays are golden.

Notes from a wet Wednesday

wang250_042209.jpgWow! The live chat gets a billboard! So exciting. I can’t wait to tell Jim Leyland I’m doing a live chat.

Hello from a gray, drizzly Wednesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Kay is eating fries. Leiter, Kenny and Kay ate in the press dining room. No food update for me yet. Bring back the Food Network buffet!

Had a chance to sit and talk with Wang, who is flying to Tampa this afternoon and will pitch in an extended spring game tomorrow. (The plan is for him to rejoin the Yankees Friday in Boston.) He knows he has work to do. He says his confidence remains intact. He is aware of his mechanical flaws, which result in his arm dragging behind his body. (He said the same thing after his bullpen last week in Tampa and then Saturday’s outing was a disaster.) He says he is not pushing off on his right foot with enough intensity but insists the foot feels fine. He doesn’t believe this is a mental byproduct from him being injured; I suspect that could be debated.

Perhaps, he was compensating for the foot at some point during rehab and has to relearn some balance-related movements as a result. That happens with injuries to those of us who are not pro athletes; common sense would dictate that athletes aren’t immune, either. That’s the hypothesis of the amateur physical therapist in me.

Wang is relatively upbeat. He appreciates the support of his teammates. A.J., he says, is always joking with him. That’s a good thing. As I mentioned last week, A.J. also uses a translation feature on his phone to e-mail Wang in Chinese. Wang thinks that’s pretty cool.

Wang and his wife are expecting their first child in June. For several reasons, it would be preferable if his pitching issues were behind him by then.

Oh, good, instant replay. Fellas, let’s try to beat 8 minutes, okay?

Also chatted with Robinson Cano today. Here’s the deal with the media that has to be frustrating for some players: We would be ALL OVER Cano if he were starting slowly. He’s not. Coming into today, he’s batting .377 to lead the Yankees, has a team-high 20 hits, a respectable eight RBI and three HRs. So, we basically ignore him, myself included. Cano laughs this stuff off but did say he’ll do any interview with us anytime. So, we’ll get him on a Batting Practice Today show soon.

Funny line from Giambi to Gardner after the centerfielder’s great catch Tuesday: “Man, didn’t you see that ovation I got (from the fans)? You’ve got to let that drop.”

That delay was much, much shorter than eight minutes. Nice.

Our first live chat!

Mark it down: April 30 – the day of our first live chat! We’re not sure of the time yet but will let you know. It makes sense to do the first chat at home, where I can navigate the computer logistics under the watchful eye of Internet Guru Kevin Sullivan. This will be historic!

Four games is probably too early to come to conclusions about how Yankee Stadium is going to play. And it’s not like 20 home runs in four games never happened at the old Stadium. But I do know Mark DeRosa told Mark Teixeira, “You’re going to WALK into 40 home runs here.” The two were teammates in Texas.

For those of you who got even a tiny little bit worked up when I mentioned wanting to interview Alex Rodriguez, don’t worry. Those are very long odds. As in, will not happen. (A couple of commenters take things very, very seriously. Wow.)

Welcome to the newbies who are taking a look thanks to Pete Abraham’s recommendation! Enjoy the game tonight on My9. Might blog more later, might not. But I’ll see you tomorrow from the Stadium.

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