Last night, Jerry Hairston Jr. conducted a clinic on how to handle the aftermath of committing a devastating error. First, he stopped the first reporter he saw — WFAN’s Sweeny Murti — and told him, “I know you guys want to talk to me. I’m going to get something to eat and I’ll be right back.”
Then, when he emerged, Hairston literally invited the media to his locker with a wave. And he answered every single question.
“He knows you have to be accountable,” Derek Jeter said. “Everyone makes mistakes. That’s one reason it’s so hard to throw a perfect game.”
Pettitte also reassured Hairston, joking that he didn’t want to throw nine innings anyway. Posada said everyone felt bad for “J-Hair.”
“Jerry’s been outstanding,” Jeter said. “He’s playing everywhere, the infield, the outfield, and he’s catching between innings. I don’t think people appreciate how difficult that is.”
Speaking of Jeter, he is the Yankees nominee for the 2009 Roberto Clemente Award, which annually recognizes the player who performs exceptionally on the field and contributes in the community.
Johnny Damon: Told Damon today that I could not say “calf cramp” on yesterday’s pregame. He laughed. Much more significantly, Damon paid a “very rewarding” visit to Walter Reed Army Hospital today, part of his ongoing commitment to the Wounded Warrior Project. Swisher, Robertson and Coke went along. Johnny was particularly touched by a young quadriplegic he has seen on several visits. “I see the progress he’s making,” Johnny said. “And he has a great spirit, a great sense of life. Definitely, he’s an inspiration.”
Alex Rodriguez: He’s back at third tonight and this morning, Alex spoke to 500 student-athletes at Millford Mill Academy in Baltimore County about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs. According to a news release, Alex opened his remarks: “As a kid, my favorite player was Cal Ripken, Jr. Has anyone here heard of him?”
The man knew his audience. Alex went on to say he made a mistake and “one of my missions in life is to turn a negative into a positive.” He called his admission of steroid use “pretty darn liberating.”
The call-ups: Francisco Cervelli, Ramiro Pena, Mark Melancon, Edwar Ramirez and lefty Mike Dunn. As you would imagine, they were smiling a lot in the clubhouse.
Adam Jones: The young Oriole center fielder hates to lose, which will be important as he becomes a leader on a Baltimore team that is trying to rise from the ashes. And Jones wasn’t thrilled last night to see Yankees fans taking over Camden Yards. “We’re not at the new Yankee Stadium,” Jones said. “I expect more of our fans to be here, but I understand completely why they’re not. But it (stinks) that they’re not.”
Jim Thome: Had a chance to interview him for Saturday’s “Batting Practice Today presented by Audi” when the White Sox were in town. No wonder he’s considered one of the friendliest players in the game. Anyway, today on WFAN, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti was interviewed by Adam the Bull and Jon Heyman. Colletti said Thome wanted to make sure he was upfront in telling the Dodgers he did not think he could play first base for them. No matter. The Dodgers want his bat and his leadership, which could pay off big.
Here’s the danger of a Saturday day game on a glorious afternoon: Our announcers — Kay, Leiter and O’Neill — sit and chat between innings about their evening plans and dinner reservations. (Just to clarify, O’Neill isn’t going to Chili’s tonight. In case you wondered.) And then the game flirts with four hours and everyone’s mood is deflated.
Talk about a jinx.
Polly Tompkins: We have a feature on Polly — the Yankees honorary bat girl in May as part of MLB’s campaign to raise awareness in the fight against breast cancer — that will air during tomorrow’s pregame. It’s a good one. Swisher already asked for a copy on DVD.
Andy Pettitte: Where were you on June 7, 1995? Andy got his first career win that day, against the A’s. So far, he looks like he’s turning back the clock today. Especially with a couple of nifty defensive plays of his own.
Michael Kay: He just said something else about a fast game. Leiter yelled at him.
This afternoon, Dave Robertson and Andy Pettitte were running the concourse of Citi Field. The concourse.
“It’s fun, something different,” Robertson said. “We kind of got lost a couple of times.”
Tomko and A.J. are the ringleaders among concourse runners. Joba also has joined. Tomko has been running concourses since 1999 when Reds teammate Juan Guzman got him hooked. Some Yankees began to join him during last weekend’s Florida series. Hey, it beats running circles around the field.
“It can be like Groundhog Day during a season,” Tomko said. “This breaks up the workouts; it goes quicker.”
They run in packs of four sometimes. In a 20-minute run, each guy takes the lead for five minutes. He might break up the run with sit-ups or jumping jacks.
“Right in the middle of the concourse,” Tomko said.
“It’s a lot more fun than running,” Joba said. “I mean, it is running, but you can do a lot more things.”
Joba enjoyed checking out Citi Field, which he describes as “nice, very nice.” Said Tomko: “Extremely nice. It has a lot of character.”
As for Robertson and Pettitte, they made it back to the clubhouse after an unplanned detour.
“We were up by the Caesar’s Club (on the fifth of six floors), then almost ran into the press box,” Robertson said. “We weren’t sure where we were, but we figured we should get out of there.”
Nick Swisher: As we were talking to Robertson, Swisher couldn’t help but interject. “Are you asking him why he threw McCann two backdoor cutters?” asked Swisher, wearing a Cheshire Cat grin. “That’s what I want to know.” (Brian McCann of the Braves hit two home runs against Robertson.) Robertson laughed: “Well, the first one was supposed to be a fastball in – and wasn’t. And the second one was supposed to be a fastball away – and wasn’t.” Swisher was highly amused. Robertson’s a good sport. “He hit two bombs off me,” Robertson said. “But I had a pretty good string going of not giving up home runs.” In 16.1 innings, those are the only two jacks Robertson has given up.
Derek Jeter: He’s got to be really sick to miss back-to-back games with the cough/illness that’s going around the clubhouse.
“George!” That’s how Keith Hernandez greets Cone whenever he comes into the YES booth during the Subway Series. We asked Cone why. When Cone was traded by the Royals to the Mets, he often talked about George Brett. So much so, that Hernandez decided to call him George. And probably a few other things. Honestly, as we told Cone, it’s a much more innocent story than we’d anticipated.
Subway Series: Enjoy tomorrow night’s game, the final interleague contest of the regular season. We’ll be watching.
There is nothing like a 53-degree, misty, foggy evening on June 9 in Boston, is there? Really, it’s a shock that they’re even playing this game, given the weather forecast.
Imagine that, the weather folks were wrong. At least about the intensity of the rain.
Tomko, who is from San Diego, sat in the dugout for a while during the pre-game rain and said he loves days like this. Go figure.
Extra heat: Hughes’ velocity reached 95 last night in a perfectly executed inning of relief. The adrenaline is different coming in as a reliever — Mariano and Coke agreed on that point — and it helped that Hughes was working on seven days rest.
Pettitte said Hughes’ fastball had movement similar to Mariano’s. Hughes smiled when told that and said, “It’s good to have anything compared to him.”
Hughes’ attitude and approach have been tremendous since he was removed from the rotation and his veteran teammates have noticed.
The Yankees will have a decision to make soon on Hughes. He is their sixth starter, and they have no one in Triple A they would want to make a start should they need a spot starter, or a starter for any duration.
Therefore, they need Hughes to be available in a pinch as a starter. If he continues to impress out of the pen, that becomes a tougher decision. Obviously.
What about Wang? And that makes Wang’s start tomorrow night very important and pretty darn intriguing, given the competition. Wang told us before the game he believes he is ready for the Red Sox and that his last outing was a confidence-builder; he was in fine form through 50 or so pitches.
Wang and his wife are expected their first child any day. He said he’s excited but also nervous. You get the feeling Wang has had a lot on his mind in recent weeks.
New York vs. Boston: The Yankees have surpassed the Red Sox in one ultra-important area this season — the quality of press dining. The Yankees really stepped it up in the new stadium, adding a bunch of culinary options on a nightly basis, unbelievable desserts (which, thankfully, do not tempt us) and now the soft-serve ice cream (which does).
Boston always offers pizza and soup, so it continues to trump the Yankees in those areas. And has Red Sox logos on its dinner plates and napkins. The Yankees go with plastic plates and plain brown napkins.
Anyway, in a strange coincidence, the Boston press dining room featured roast beef, mashed potatoes and broccoli tonight, just as the Yankees press dining room did last night. Maybe the Red Sox are now scouting opposing dining rooms.
So, the guys ate dinner in the dining room while we were fulfilling post-game responsibilities from the dugout.
Or at least two of them did.
“Popcorn and coffee,” Flaherty said, when asked his dinner selections. “I didn’t get invited to dinner.”
“I had prime rib and broccoli,” Kay said. “And a slice of pizza. And I ate the crust! And two cups of hot tea.”
(He loves when we write about him.)
“Prime rib and broccoli,” Kenny reported. “But, I added mashed potatoes.”
By the way, Kenny is the one who usually is in the gym by 7 a.m. He can eat what he wants.
Kay kash: Speaking of the gym, we saw Kay there around 11:30 this morning. (The gym, which is adjacent to the hotel, costs $15 per day. It’s unclear whether that is a reimbursable expense at the YES Network.) He was finishing up on the stationary bike. After his workout and presumably a shower, Kay got his hair cut in the salon next to the gym: $50 cut, $20 tip. He must’ve really, uh, liked his hairdresser.
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.
Talked 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.
Now this should be fun. It’s 7:32 a.m. and fearing traffic, I’ll be off to the stadium soon. Today has seemed a long, long time coming. By the time the millionth cowbell was ringing in their ears, the players were definitely ready to leave St. Pete and head home.
Andy Pettitte mentioned on the flight how big a win yesterday’s was. Somehow it did seem more significant than your usual, ninth-game-of-the-season victory. And if the Rays’ bullpen can’t right itself … ouch!
The home opener will be something many of us remember forever. It also promises to be a crazy, busy, exciting day. And one that will be, sadly, blog-free for me. I plan to hit you up this evening, but I’m not even taking the laptop to the stadium. There just won’t be time to blog. Hopefully that’s the one and only time I say that this season.
We are expecting news this morning on Nady, and he wasn’t optimistic as we waited for our luggage at midnight.
Hopefully, you’ll enjoy today’s coverage. And hope to catch up with you afterward. Later, skaters!