Between the long weekend series and some radio work on WFAN, trying to find a second wind as a blogger…
Phil Hughes and Ricky Romero: They trained together in the offseason at Athletes Performance Institute in L.A. Given the way the two have pitched this season, Hughes laughed when he said, “API has probably gotten some good publicity” out of it. Hughes hopes to go back over the winter. Carl Crawford and a bunch of NFL players also have worked out at API.
A.J. Burnett: He’s back on the mound amid a slightly different atmosphere than his last outing. After Monday’s game, A.J. said he finally could change his jeans. He wore the same pair every day during the seven-game winning streak.
Joba Chamberlain: Asked him today if he believes his bout with shoulder tendinitis last August has influenced the Yankees into being ultra-careful with his innings limit this season. He said no. He attributes it solely to the studies done that show young pitchers can be negatively affected by significantly exceeding the previous year’s production. “That’s for smart people to worry about,” he said. “I just go out and pitch.” As for the postseason, Joe Girardi says “all hands on deck,” meaning there will be no innings limitation on anyone. Joba anticipates his role being “as a starter. I don’t plan on going back to the bullpen.” Then he softly added, “Hopefully.”
Derek Jeter: Hit by a pitch on his right foot during his first at-bat. It looked like he was in pain, even if he won’t admit it.
Chad Gaudin: He’ll start Saturday or Sunday, with Sergio Mitre getting the other start. He says he’s extremely happy to be here; his locker is next to Mariano Rivera’s. As for his last name, it’s Go-DAN. “No pause between (syllables),” he said. Got it.
Rob Thomson: The third-base coach offered no excuses for sending Mark Teixeira in the first last night. “Bad send,” he told Kay and me, adding that he didn’t realize – obviously – that the relay throw had reached the second baseman, Aaron Hill, just as Teixeira was touching third. Thomson also said Teixeira did the right thing in giving himself up to be tagged out. “We didn’t want to get anyone hurt,” he said. Thomson wondered throughout the game if that run would come back to bite the Yankees. It didn’t. Of course, Thomson’s aggressiveness at third has helped the Yankees far more often than it’s hurt this season. We never seem to talk about that.
Paul O’Neill: He says he’s not scheduled to do another series until Boston comes to town Sept. 25. The pizza orders for the booth will be greatly diminished in the meantime. It’s amazing how much pizza, ice cream and pancakes he consumes. Even Leiter is amazed. And by the way, O’Neill golfed yesterday at Winged Foot — “awesome,” he says — and remains particularly proud of his eagle on 16 and birdie on 9. Paul’s buddy, Stone Phillips, won the match with a birdie on 18.
Jeter: An inning later, he’s out of the game and Ramiro Pena’s in. Jeter will undergo X-rays. Updates on postgame, for sure.
The Yankees HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) comes to an end tonight, and it’s been quite a week. Last night in particular, after the nearly three-hour rain delay, many players stayed into the wee hours with the kids and young adults from Camp Sundown. And they had a blast, with several saying they stayed much later than they’d intended because they were having so much fun.
One blessing of the long rain delay: the Camp Sundown folks were scheduled to arrive in the second or third inning. Because of the delay, they were able to see the entire game.
Aceves and AJ made music, playing acoustic guitar and singing and, sources say, Cashman joined in the vocals. The on-field carnival was a tremendous success. As the entire week has been.
Mark Teixeira: He’s tied for the AL lead in home runs after launching a(nother) rocket to the second deck in right field last night, on a 3-0 pitch. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle noted that pitchers had gone 3-0 on Teixeira in 16 previous plate appearances this season. He’d walked each time, five intentionally. In other words, no other pitcher dared as Vin Mazzaro did, serving up a pitch over the middle of the plate.
Chien-Ming Wang: He might pay a visit to Dr. James Andrews on Monday as he continues to seek the best course of treatment for his right shoulder strain. Wang calls the past year “very frustrating” and fears he won’t pitch again this season. Girardi says the Yankees have to proceed as if Wang won’t be back this season.
Paul O’Neill: He’s joining Kay and Leiter for the balance of the A’s series. He is lucky to have missed last night’s game; O’Neill and two-hour, 43-minute rain delays don’t mix. “That wouldn’t have been real good,” O’Neill said. During the break every half inning, Kay and Leiter sit and sometimes talk, laugh or make fun of each other. O’Neill walks around. He just came back with a hot tea and cookie from the dining room.
The Yankees really do bring out the worst in the Twins, don’t they? A few quick notes as the Yankees conclude their time at the Metrodome and near the All-Star break:
Alfredo Aceves: How do you quantify how valuable he has become? Truly a jack of all trades, which is a supreme compliment for a pitcher. A great read about him by Tyler Kepner in today’s New York Times. Interesting that his preparation sets him apart.
A.J. Burnett: His All-Star break kind of started after last night’s start, but he was at the dome at 7:30 this morning and running steps soon after. And after his start last night, A.J. made a point of seeking out Francisco Cervelli before he left. What did A.J. say? He offered encouraging words and thanked the young catcher.
Bob Lorenz: To answer Lorenz’s question, today is a strange food day. Because it still seems pretty darn early. Kenny reports he had oatmeal at the hotel. Coincidentally, so did we, via room service. The writers are raving about the carved turkey sandwich, sold at a concession stand just steps from the press box. We’re afraid turkey would put us to sleep.
Metrodome: Joe Nathan says the Twins will miss the climate control of the dome and “knowing how much you’ll sweat.” He toured Target Field, the Twins new park, which will open next season, and was very impressed. The Yankees outfielders won’t miss the roof of the dome, which turns some fly balls into an interesting proposition. Johnny Damon wasn’t exactly broken up about having today off.
When Ramiro Pena was sent down to AAA, he was smiling and happy, a young guy who knew he needed to play every day, believed he had played well and hopes he’ll return to the majors Sept. 1.
Today, it was slightly different with Francisco Cervelli. Yes, he knows he performed better than anyone anticipated with Posada and then Molina going on the DL at the beginning of May. Yes, he is happy with the way he played and contributed and caught veteran pitchers who rave about him. And yes, he knows how great a defensive catcher Molina is and he respects that.
Yet there was sadness with Cervelli, who said he didn’t think we could possibly understand how much the past two months have meant to him. “The most important time in my life,” he said. “You don’t know how much I enjoyed every day here.”
Over the past two months, his parents visited New York for the first time and loved it. They were in town during the Subway Series at Citifield. Cervelli introduced them to everyone he could on the team bus.
He marveled at catching Mariano. “You could catch him in your sleep,” he said, closing his eyes and shaking his head. “The best.”
And he appreciated so much the relationship he developed with CC and A.J. “CC was always great,” Cervelli said. “I love that guy. It gave me confidence to know the confidence he had in me.”
Said CC, “He did an unbelievable job. I hate to see him go.”
Added Cervelli: “A.J. was great, too. When I watched A.J. (before being called up), I would say, ‘Let me catch him.’ He has such nasty stuff. He makes hitters look so bad.”
Cervelli will take a flight back East tomorrow morning. He knew the time was coming when he would be sent down, as soon as Molina was ready. “I might cry a little in my hotel room, and I don’t cry often,” he said, sitting in front of his locker during a long pregame chat. “But my mom always told me to have fun in whatever I do. So I’ll go to AAA and have fun. I’ll be back. I know I’ll be back. And I’ll bring Pena with me.”
Laura Posada: Jorge’s wife is featured in a TV show that debuts tonight – “True Hollywood Story: Baseball Wives” at 10 p.m. on E!. She is thrilled. “They followed me for a week!” she told us. We asked Jorge if he was excited. “Uh, yeah,” he said with a smile. “But not as excited as she is.” Set your DVRs.
Jose Molina: It seems like an awfully long time since he went on the DL May 8. Particularly for Molina. “It’s awesome to put on the uniform and be back on the field again,” he said. “It took a lot of hard work, but it’s great to be back.” He’ll catch one of the games this weekend, against the Angels, his former team.
Joe Nathan: The Twins closer is an All-Star again and looks forward to picking Mariano’s brain at the midsummer classic. They have mutual respect. As many pitchers do, Nathan will ask about the cutter. “I hear it’s hard to teach,” Nathan said. “The repetition probably just comes so naturally for him.” But Nathan will ask. “At the same time, I don’t want to have so many pitches that it messes me up,” Nathan said with a laugh. “I have four or five as it is, which is enough.”
Nathan is one of the closers in the game respected by Mariano. He likes the way Nathan goes about doing his job, with superior results and without showmanship.
Alfredo Aceves: He’s tomorrow starter and he’s excited about it. “How many pitches did I throw Sunday?” he asked. Forty-three. “How many did Joe say I could throw tomorrow?” Sixty to 65. “I should be able to throw more than that,” he said. Really, it’s no wonder Girardi loves the guy.
Mealtime at the Metrodome: Following Cone’s lead, we had Maui Wowis for dinner. Think smoothie, with a little umbrella. Cone went with raspberry, Kenny strawberry and we had mango. What a diverse group! We’re all eating popcorn; they have movie theater-caliber popcorn here. Sadly.
Then there’s Stage Manager Teresa, who is peddling a bag of carrots. No takers, besides herself, so far. Watching Cone decline her offer of a carrot was amusing for some reason. Then again, Cone is often amusing, even when he doesn’t say a word.
Just after our pregame pop, AJ and Wang walked into the dugout together. Wang was smiling and carrying a large cup of peanuts. He knows Wednesday is his last chance to show he should stay in the rotation; before Girardi told the media that, he told it to Wang.
So begins a life-altering six-day stretch for Wang, whose wife will have labor induced Tuesday, if necessary. They are expecting their first child, a son.
And then Wang will start the following night against the Nationals, a team that struggles mightily but can put runs on the board, to prove he still has it.
Given that some Yankees coaches and players are convinced Wang’s troubles stem from waning — or completely shot — confidence, it sets up this dynamic: He will take the mound knowing he has to perform but not necessarily believing he can perform.
As for what’s next if Wang doesn’t perform, it’s probably back to the bullpen, given he has no options left. Unless he winds up on the DL again.
“One of the nicest guys”: For what it’s worth, and that might be a lot, Wang has plenty of support among his teammates. Cano tells us that Wang is “a great guy, one of the nicest guys in this room,” meaning the visiting mini-clubhouse at Fenway. “I always tell him to keep his head up, but that’s hard to do when you’re not the player you expect yourself to be.”
Over the next few days, Mariano will seek out Wang for a heart-to-heart. It might not be a long conversation, but Mariano is putting thought into what he will say. Mariano will express to Wang, as he did to us, that “I expect him to turn it around, and that I want the best for him.”
His teammates can impart wisdom and faith, but it will ultimately be up to Wang to take the mound with the confidence of years past. At this point, he has no choice.
Tiger tale: Bruney, who will make a rehab appearance Saturday and could return Tuesday, currently has custody of the Tiger Woods figurine, having defeated Gardner in their regular Tiger Woods video game battles. “Now she’s going to blog that,” Gardner told Bruney and other teammates. Thanks for reading, Brett!
Good stuff: CC will visit with 8th-graders tomorrow at Elizabeth Barrett Browning Middle School in the Bronx. The school made dramatic improvement in NY state exams, and this is a reward. CC will take questions from the 170 students. No doubt he’s hoping one of them is, “How did you beat the Red Sox last night?”
And Gardner will return to NY-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital to reunite with 18-year-old heart transplant recipient Alyssa. When the two met May 15 at a hospital event, Alyssa gave Gardner a bracelet and told him he would hit a home run as long as he kept it. Hours later, he hit an inside-the-park home run. And Alyssa, who had been waiting 107 days for her transplant, received a lifesaving heart transplant the next day.
Is it June 11? Really? It’s cold again here in Boston. Kay just asked Anita the Stage Manager for a hot tea with two Sweet ‘N Lows. “I don’t make talent mix their own drinks,” Anita said, explaining why Kay receives the tea already sweetened.
Kay will order another tea or two before the game ends. He had pizza before the game; two full slices, not just the cheese.
We also had pizza, some salad, diet coke.
Flaherty is drinking coffee “with a little bit of milk,” Anita reports. “And Kenny has hot tea.” No Sweet ‘N Low? “Nothing,” Anita shrugs. “Straight up.”
Kenny just ordered tea with Sweet ‘N Low. Maybe Kay is rubbing off on him. Anita is appropriately shocked.
“This is the first time in three days,” she says.
Coming up: There’s been scarcely any Subway Series talk in the visiting clubhouse, given that most of the attention has been on the Red Sox series. But tomorrow should be fun. If it’s 80 degrees, it’ll be even more fun. Maybe Tino will be in town!
A terrific pregame story today involved Yankees “honorary bat girl” Polly Tompkins. She is here as part of the MLB/Susan G. Komen for Cure effort to recognize baseball fans who are battling cancer.
Polly was very popular before the game. She’s a lifelong Yankees fan and met many players, including her crush, Jeter, after he took BP.
She leaned in toward the end of their chat and asked him for his phone number. (Love the spunk!) Jeter was smiling ear-to-ear and said, “I’ll get in trouble here. Maybe later.” (That means no, but he was very nice.)
During BP, Alex and Swisher went with Polly into the stands to greet the 100 or so friends and family members who made a four-hour bus trip from Candor, N.Y. That was absolutely incredible. We’ve never seen anything like it, two stars walking through the stands with the pink do-ragged Polly, going to greet her cheering contingent, most of whom were wearing pink T-shirts.
Reggie talked to Polly for a while, as did Damon and Mariano. (When Mariano walked toward her, Polly’s eyes got wide as baseballs. So cute.)
And just before the game, Polly was in the dugout, hanging with A.J. and Swisher. Which meant she was having a blast. She said she couldn’t believe “that I’m sitting here watching Nick Swisher stretch before a game!” Said A.J.: “All you need now is a pie in the face.”
Polly laughed, heartily. Then she threw out the ceremonial first pitch, caught by Swisher. Swisher’s grandmother died of brain cancer a few years ago. He’s always great in these spots. And Jason Zillo and Jason Latimer of the Yankees media relations department did a terrific job in making Polly’s day so special.
Polly Tompkins is a 38-year-old first-grade teacher who was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. She thought she beat it. The cancer came back last month, and she learned it had advanced to Stage 4. She usually spends Wednesdays receiving chemotherapy. This was a much better Wednesday.
We wish Polly the absolute best and hope today strengthened her spirit. She promised to update us regularly on her condition. She may call anytime. And we’ll pass on any message to Jeter.
Oops! Didn’t mean to forget Joba! Turns out he also went into the stands to meet Polly’s people. He hugged her mom. He told me after the game it was an awesome experience, something he believes players SHOULD do. And he does plan to stay in touch with Polly. Nice work, Joba.
And very cool of Swisher to give Polly the lineup card after the game. She was so psyched on the field. Just a terrific, terrific night.
In response to a couple of comments, I’ve not been fined by the Kangaroo Court. I think I’m out of that jurisdiction.
Saw Posada in the dugout, but not to talk to. His take on Cervelli would be interesting. There’s something about that kid.
What else did you ask me? I can’t remember. Short game tonight! Woo-hoo!
It’s My9 again tomorrow, strangely, but we’ll try to check in.
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.
Burnett-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.
This 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 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.
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.
Okay, 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.
What a day. Good game so far. And it was Taco Night in the Fenway Park Media Dining Room.
Batting 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.