May 2009

Injury update for wounded Yanks

Bruney-5-13-250.jpgSo we’re set with questions for O’Neill. We’ll ask him to answer a handful at a time and transcribe them over the Minnesota series, which begins Friday.

Here’s why you have to love Leiter in the booth: In front of him as we write this is a Red Bull and a huge box of Mike and Ikes. Both are open. Mike and Ikes rock!

Dinner was turkey, veggies, salad. They had brownies for dessert. There used to be a sign at the dessert table, saying “one per person.” We always got a kick out of that. The sign isn’t there today. Plenty of Diet Coke is on hand, but they lock the refrigerator in, like, the sixth inning. So some of us resort to putting an unopened beverage or two in our bag. Don’t tell.

Jeter (oblique), Matsui (hamstring) and Coke (back) aren’t available tonight. Matsui could pinch hit but would require a pinch runner. Girardi thinks the Yankees will get over this injury hump and have a mostly healthy season thereafter. Girardi is also an optimist by any measure. It’s hard to imagine a team of mostly thirtysomethings magically finding a universal cure. Especially in today’s game.

There is some good news, with Bruney expected to return next week. He threw a bullpen today and will again Friday. And with Wang definitely making progress, as evidenced by last night’s AAA outing. He’ll have at least one more minor league start.

Both clubhouses were still buzzing today about Halladay last night. The guy is a machine. Bruney says it’s like he has a video game controller in his pocket and can dial up any pitch at any time. Joba says Halladay could win 30 games in the NL. It’s significant when players marvel about other players, because it just doesn’t happen all that often.

You know, these Yankees are a curious group. The upcoming homestand seems like a very important one, with Minnesota, Baltimore and Philly coming to town. More on that later, after we crystallize our thoughts.

A fist pump on a beautiful Baltimore day

Happy Mother’s Day to all Moms! Especially mine!

It is a glorious day in Baltimore. A postcard day. Except for the pollen, which is going to render some of us unable to breathe by the end of the day. After the last road trip, my car had a fresh coat of pollen on it; that’s how this misery starts.

It’s been a long stretch of games — yes, there was a rainout but everyone was still at the stadium — and tomorrow is a very welcome off day. Every single person in the clubhouse is looking forward to it. (No country music in the clubhouse today. In fact, there was no music at all while we were there.)

We did lots of Mother’s Day stuff for today’s pregame shows. Maybe you saw the Ransom feature on “Batting Practice Today presented by Audi.” That was a terrific job by producer Jared Boshnack and his gang, chiefly production assistant Blayke Sheer. Thank you.

Last year, an Oriole who shall remain nameless said he would WALK around the bases if he hit a home run against Joba. Today in the Orioles clubhouse, a few players wanted to know why Joba pumped his fist Tuesday against the Red Sox when his team was losing. (As if we know.) And so, Aubrey Huff hits a home run and makes sure to pump his fist as he rounds first and as he crosses home. Hmmm.

halladay250_051009.jpgBurnett-Halladay should be a great matchup Tuesday night on My9, and A.J. is excited about it. (Every season My9 lucks into a great game or two that we’d pay to see.) A.J. was going to text Halladay, for whom he has great respect, but decided he’ll wait to talk to him after the game. He says Halladay never worries about who he’s facing — why would he? — so he might not even know that the two will face each other, for the first time.

Surely, Blue Jays fans are excited to welcome back A.J. And Alex.

Had a full breakfast in the Orioles press dining room: Bagel, eggs, bacon, yogurt. Kay had two burgers — they even make burgers before noon, apparently — and bacon, with a side of fruit. Kay isn’t going to Toronto, so we’ll make due with food updates from Leiter.

More later or tomorrow or Tuesday. Will spend time tomorrow compiling your questions for O’Neill.

(Keith) Urban renewal works for Yankees

urban_250.jpgJust a quick check-in tonight from Baltimore. Definitely a more upbeat mood today and more country music. Loud country music. The Yankees were jamming to Keith Urban yesterday and won, so they listened to more Keith Urban today. Much to the dismay of some players. (The music, not the winning.)

How about Evan Longoria? Wow, another home run today. He is the future face of the game, maybe sooner than we think.

If Yankees fans get to know Cervelli, they’ll like him. He has a confidence and a friendly air about him. Like he expects himself to play well but will smile while he tells you about it.

The coaching staff has thought about dropping Teixeira in the order but wants to give him a chance in the No. 3 spot with Alex hitting behind him. If time spent in the batting cage with Kevin Long is any indication – and you’ve got to think it is – Teixeira is working hard to get it right.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. We’ll have a bunch of Mother’s Day wishes from players that will appear during tomorrow’s coverage. And we have a Cody Ransom feature for the batting practice show that is worth seeing. At least we think so.

Just ate PB&J with a yogurt. Trying to be healthy. Allergies are a killer here. Kay had two burgers, strawberries and grapes, and a plate of peanut butter, which he says he ate with a spoon. He says he’s on neither the Atkins nor South Beach diet. Just cutting out carbs. How does anyone live without carbs?

First impressions: Alex is thinner, tanner, happier

arod_kim_blog_050809.jpgHello there. Today has been kind of crazy, as you would expect. Alex seems relaxed, as his first at-bat would suggest. First pitch? You’ve GOT to be kidding! He also looks thinner, tanner and happier than you might remember.

He says he’s refocused, which would be a great sign of personal growth. And we choose to believe him. He also says this “absolutely” represents a new chapter for him. (He must have read this blog yesterday.)

Anyway, he’s back and that’s a good thing. The circus was in full throttle today and hopefully will go away by tomorrow. That would be a very good thing.

Lots of news. Honestly, can’t repeat everything here; hopefully you saw the pregame. One addition: Cervelli is a very confident guy. He might find a way to make this work. (We say that with virtually no knowledge of his actual ability behind the plate, but Posada did give him an endorsement.)

Our most interesting conversation was with Mariano. That is often the case. He still has allergies, which he’s had since March. Or February. (We mention this incidentally; he says he’s allergic to yours truly, but that is totally, 100 percent impossible.)

Mariano says he is fine: “I believe and I know that I will continue to get better” in terms of velocity and arm strength following shoulder surgery after last season. He says that will happen naturally, by pitching.

Nothing about last night, Mariano says, “felt out of the ordinary” — except the two home runs, of course. Mariano shrugs, he credits Crawford for a good at-bat and says (like a ton of pitchers will say at some point this season) that Longoria can hit even the slightest mistake a long way.

Mariano seemed to be as good as ever in early-to-mid April when he didn’t allow a run in his first seven innings. His numbers turned with that 31-pitch, Jason Bay-polluted outing on April 24 in Boston. Since then, he’s allowed five earned runs and four HRs in 4 1/3 innings. But he says nothing changed before or during that Friday night game against the Red Sox. And he insists his shoulder feels better now than it has at any point this season.

His treatment on his shoulder is routine, the same as always, he says. When we spoke at about 4 p.m. or so he said he hadn’t even had any treatment yet. He was relaxing at his locker. If something were truly wrong, you’d think he would have been in the training room.
Just trying to be logical here.

Mariano also says — with a smile — that Yankees fans are “spoiled” — imagine that — and that as soon as he has a bad stretch, they wonder if he’s hurt or if he’s losing it.
He’s not losing it, he says. “At the end of the season, we’ll see numbers as great as they always are.”

More good news: It’s Crab Cake Night in the press dining room. The limit is one. We secured two. Much like elementary school, it pays to be nice to the cafeteria ladies. Kay has an enormous plate of grapes (and strawberries) in front of him. Much like a Roman emperor.

Love for The Blob

A few additions:
Kay reports proudly that he ate chicken. Chicken and ice cream. Atkins would be proud.
It’s unbelievable the Yankees haven’t led in a game since the fifth inning Saturday. Matsui just tied the game. Maybe taking the lead is next. That’d be a big step, no?

Lorenz — his Blobbin’ self — is upset that his blog wasn’t mentioned when we were asked to list some favorites during yesterday’s chat. That’s because Lorenz’s Blob isn’t so much a blog as it is REQUIRED READING. We love it! 

A million musings from the ballpark

1. It feels particularly humid and sticky (my hair really doesn’t like that) but if we can avoid rain tonight, the grounds crew – and the YES crew – will do a no-rain dance. Or jig. Or some kind of celebration. They players and coaches might even join in. It’s been a rough homestand for everyone. The grounds crew has had the tarp on and off the field 20 times in the past week. And when there’s rain on the tarp, it’s very heavy. Those guys work their tails off.

arod_250.jpg2. Alex Rodriguez should be grateful to Selena Roberts and Manny Ramirez. Roberts’ book has done, in some camps, what Alex himself never could: Turned him into a sympathetic figure. And Manny’s logic-defying explanation of the performance-enhancing reason for his suspension makes Alex seem completely forthright by comparison.

3. Alex’s return comes at a pivotal point of this Yankees season and of his own career. The team desperately needs him to make a difference. And how he responds over these next few months will help to define the next chapter of his career.

4. It’s funny how not one player we found – not one of a dozen or so – voiced surprise or shock as his initial reaction to Manny’s situation. That’s telling.

5. In answer to comments from you, Jeter responds. Jeter’s favorite on American Idol was Allison. “My girl got eliminated last night!” he said. As for where Jeter goes from here with the show, he said, “I’m an emotional wreck!” Then he laughed.

5. Milking this conversation with Jeter for all it’s worth. Some of you are very perceptive, wondering why he isn’t chewing gum anymore. “I’m just not,” Jeter said. “I’m in gum rehab.” See, told you he is funny.

6. The Yankees really need a win. Really. (Hey, you don’t get this kind of analysis everywhere.) But it seems like more than four consecutive losses. And the Yankees have never lost five in a row under Girardi.

7. Back-to-back topics on ESPN this afternoon were Manny and 50-game ban and Favre and his flirtation with the Vikings. We wonder which story induces more fan fatigue. Probably anything steroid related. Probably.

8. Last night’s game – after the Teixeira double — is usually one the Yankees win. Teixeira made a decent point, saying the rain delay that immediately followed took away any momentum. It’s also true that the Rays had a chance to regroup and did. In their former life, as the Devil Rays, the Rays would’ve spent the rain delay dwelling on a way to cough up that game. No more.

9. There is some sentiment – perhaps most vociferously from Francesa on the Fan on YES – that Mariano should have pitched the 10th after he threw 18 pitches in the ninth. Those people have some company – some – in the Yankees clubhouse. Mariano might not love two-inning outings at this point, but he’s been used rather sparingly lately. Over the past 12 days, he’s pitched 2 1/3 innings and thrown 39 pitches.

10. How much do the Yankees miss Bruney? Bruney didn’t even want to go on the DL, and now he could miss a month (15-day DL, April 25). Bruney said he initially felt the pull in his elbow in spring training. Marte said his shoulder hurt in the spring. Ransom said his quad was initially injured in the spring. Maybe it’s their competitiveness – or maybe no one wants to be perceived as a Pavano — but it would benefit these players in the long run to be more open and honest with the training staff.

11. Anyone else notice that Pavano and Ponson got wins last night? What are those odds?

12. Thanks to a Turkey Hill promotion, there’s plenty of ice cream in the booth tonight. The guys are eating it. (Kay apparently believes ice cream is part of Atkins.) We’re passing. Let’s face it, the food updates are more fun when O’Neill works.

Live Kimberly Jones chat

Read the below chat transcript to find out which Yankee loves American Idol, what Kimberly Jones does during her time off, her thoughts on the empty seats at Yankee Stadium and much more.

<a href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php?option=com_mobile&task=viewaltcast&altcast_code=34fe8c2d59″ >May 6 Kimberly Jones Chat</a>

Something you should know: Our chats are, apparently, unique. I’ve talked to several blogger friends about their chats. They have moderators who select their questions. Unless something dramatically changes, we won’t be doing that. I select the questions. It’s pretty much a random process, but I select them. And, no doubt, I have to get better at doing it; it’s a fast and furious pace. But it’s just you and me separated only by cyberspace. I like it that way.

And remember to submit your questions for Paul O’Neill. I’ll be selecting the 15 (or so) most interesting/intriguing/amusing ones and we’ll have his answers during the Twins series.

Kimberly Jones interviews Johnny Damon

Joba tries to rebound, A-Rod rehabs

Not the greatest day ever. Or the greatest start to a game.

It’s impossible to know how Joba felt yesterday knowing his estranged mother was arrested in Nebraska for allegedly selling methamphetamine to an undercover police officer.

And imagine how he felt today, seeing it as front-page news. His mother’s unfortunate — yes, Joba is a public figure. And the First Amendment is a fabric of our being and must be defended in nearly every case, even to the dismay of the Yankees manager. So, maybe this is a misguided mini-rant.

But somehow this seemed dirty, and so unnecessary. And we can’t help but feel bad for Joba.

Joba overcame a lot to get where he is. He’s going to have to keep overcoming. But, given his ugly first inning, and this 4-0 start by the Red Sox, you have to wonder if he didn’t take some family baggage to the mound with him tonight.

Give us a second to get off the soapbox.

And to provide a brief food update: Tried tofu for the first time today in the press dining room and liked it. Not as much as the macadamia nut cookies, unfortunately. Kay is back on Atkins, so his burger consumption is increasing. If that’s possible.

Okay, so the news on Posada could’ve been worse, but definitely could have been better. A Grade 2 strain of the right hamstring will keep him out 2-3 weeks, which is the optimistic timeline. A pessimistic timeline isn’t even worth getting into at the moment.

Posada will be missed, which is like saying water is wet. (I have to thank Kevin Brown for the little verbal nugget. Once, when we were in Anaheim and he was just dreadful, I asked him the genius question of whether he was hoping for a better start. He stared, made a sound like a tired cow and said, “That’s like saying water is wet.” I still laugh every single time I think of that. But we digress.)

If nothing else, 2008 proved Posada’s value to be invaluable. Posada is clearly disappointed and frustrated but is buoyed by the idea that he could be back in 15 days.

arod250_050509.jpgSo, Alex is returning soon. Must confess: We got a kick out of hearing he fielded a ball to his left, did a pirouette and threw out the runner at first today in Tampa. You KNOW Alex has been dying to do a pirouette!

Anyway, we’ll probably see Alex on Friday or perhaps Saturday. Girardi said any day before May 15 would be okay. They need him even more now, and Alex surely realizes that.

The Yankees have closed to 4-3. Damon always seems to hit those kinds of home runs. Joba’s got to like that.

Chatting with the DL dudes

ONeill just said that all he needs to do a game is a credential and a bowl of ice cream. Which is not exactly true. Because he just ate dinner. (And, yes, it was late and he wasn’t happy about it, but he didn’t break utensils or anything.)

So O’Neill had a seafood salad, a slab of salmon and a pizza. A large pizza, but he shares. (Thanks, Paul.) And he just brought back two pints of ice cream, including a Turkey Hill NYY flavor, Pinstripe Brownie Blast. He’s also having vanilla bean.

Flaherty packed his own dinner — probably something unbelievably healthy — and Kay had grilled chicken, a burger (no bun) and watermelon. And he just ate the cheese off a piece of pizza.

Hey, I’m just reporting what I see.
 
brianbruney050109.JPGTalked for a while today with the guys who are on the DL but are around — Bruney, Ransom and Nady. Bruney played catch from 60-75 feet, didn’t throw hard and made about 35 throws. It’s the first time he’s thrown since the elbow injury. It’s a step in the right direction.
Nady said he should be able to swing a bat in a week-and-a-half. I asked his level of frustration on a scale of one to 10. He said nine. But he said for him to say 10, he’d be really, really bad –“like jumping out of my skin.”

Ransom said he originally felt discomfort in his quad sometime in March. He described it as “a knot” but figured he could play through it. “I’m stubborn,” he said. Ransom later learned through the MRI that it was actually a series of small tears. Those tears converged, if you will, last Friday night in Boston when he slid and became a larger, though not complete, tear.
Ransom is on the 60-day DL, so he has time to rehab, but he did take some swings in the cage for the first time today. He said he’s feeling better but is really frustrated by the injury “because I haven’t been injured since I hurt my back in 1999 and by the way I played. It wasn’t the results I wanted.”

They’re all good guys, and I told them that the readers of my blog wish them well. They seemed to appreciate that. Or maybe they were just humoring me. No, I think they appreciated it.

On second thought, maybe someone else should have held the umbrella for me during pregame.

It’ll be interesting to watch Pettitte if/when a runner reaches third base tonight. He got SO tired of hearing about that Ellsbury steal of home. He and Eiland talked about it, and Eiland was clear that the steal was 100 percent Pettitte’s fault. He also said it should — and would — never happen again. I mentioned Figgins. Eiland said Pettitte “better be” paying close attention if he reaches third.

“Andy told me he peeked at the runner,” meaning Ellsbury, Eiland said. “You cannot peek. You have to make eye contact. You have to make that runner realize that you know what he’s thinking.”

Or, with Abreu on third, Pettitte could pick off Hunter at first. That works.