Our feature on Polly Tompkins ran today during pregame and Polly texted to make sure we knew she appreciated it. Sometimes, that’s all that matters. This is one of those times.
Polly is such an inspiration, an example of how to stay positive — and keep smiling — when faced with extreme adversity. In her case, it’s the return of cancer. And we wish her well as she continues to fight and, hopefully, continues to get good news.
Brett Gardner: The Yankees will miss the instant offense and speed on the basepaths he provides, not to mention that he’s hit over .300 since mid-May. Gardner will be in a cast for two weeks and re-evaluated. He won’t be available for the series in Tampa, which starts tomorrow, or the upcoming one against Boston, beginning Aug. 6 at the Stadium. He’s the player in pinstripes who plays most like a Ray.
Rickey Henderson: The man who once said, “I’m a walking record” will make a speech that could be one for the ages at the Hall of Fame. We’ll have to catch the (many?) highlights.
Paul O’Neill: His kids are here today, so there are three pizzas in the booth. Or what’s left of them. “Another slice and some ice cream and I’ll be set,” Paul just said between innings.
Alfredo Aceves: He joined media relations czar Jason Zillo on “Batting Practice Today presented by Audi” to talk about HOPE Week. Ace made a big impact, playing guitar for the Camp Sundown children and young adults late Thursday night. He had as much fun as they did.
CC and CC: Still have to read the Sports Illustrated article on Carl Crawford. That’s on the to-do list during the flight. On Wednesday in Tampa, Crawford will be joined by CC Sabathia for an hour before the game for “Catching up with Carl Crawford,” an event to encourage more African-American youth to play baseball. They’ll tell stories to the kids. We’ll try to listen in.
Adam Jones: The Orioles center fielder is one of the best young players in the game. He also happens to share his name with the NFL cornerback nicknamed Pacman by his grandmother. Pacman Jones has had a hard time staying out of trouble, to put it charitably. Adam Jones, an All-Star, cleans his own cleats in the clubhouse. Where are we going here? Last night, while a sports wrap-up show was providing background noise, we heard an anchorman who thought he was very, very clever link the two, yelling “Pacman!” while some Orioles highlights played. That’s nice. And just wrong on a couple of different levels.
Meanwhile, Adam Jones the Oriole can’t stand being called Pacman. Can you blame him?
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!
In a few short hours, there will be universal happiness on the Yankees charter flight when we take off, leaving behind our five days in Cleveland.
Bruney takes Tiger: Brian Bruney and Brett Gardner resumed their Tiger Woods video game battles last year, with Bruney winning. So Bruney has custody of the Tiger figurine until the next road trip; they play only on the road. Bruney already repainted Tiger, with a red shirt, cap and shoes and silver pants. Gardner had angered Bruney on Sunday morning by painting Tiger in head-to-toe green.
“Yeah, he was upset,” an unrepentant Gardner said. “I knew he would be. That’s why I did it.”
In Cornhole bean-bag game news, Brett Tomko went undefeated in five sweat-producing games against A.J. over the past two days. But today, Tomko split two games with Phil Coke, who said he had “no idea what I’m doing” before throwing his first bean bag.
Dining news: The Hal Lebovitz Press Dining Room stepped up today, easily the best meal of the series: grilled chicken, rice, veggies, chicken noodle soup. Worth the $10.
As a follow-up to those of you who looked too deeply for a salacious meaning in our report yesterday that “we ate room-service oatmeal at the hotel for breakfast…” — we can assure you, “we” is “I.” We just prefer the royal “we.” We really loathe the overuse of “I,” especially in print. It’s just tedious.
By the way, Flaherty treated tonight, buying Kay some chicken fingers and fries and himself a burger and fries. The cost: $19.50 for everything. Not bad.
Suffering a setback: With the news that Jose Molina “felt something” in his strained quad while running to first base in Tampa, the Yankees will “back off and be smart” with Molina, according to Brian Cashman. Cashman doesn’t believe Molina re-tore anything, but he probably will have another MRI to make sure. Cashman agrees that the Yankees are very lucky Francisco Cervelli has been beyond capable as replacement. Instead of possibly seeing Molina this week, it’ll be awhile.
Meanwhile, Xavier Nady plans to throw tomorrow after feeling some soreness in his elbow while throwing for the first time today. While Joe Girardi termed this a setback, Cashman was more optimistic, saying they expected Nady to “feel something,” just as he did when he first swung a bat. Cashman suggested this was normal and that Nady will proceed as expected. Obviously, they’ll know more tomorrow.
Bye-bye Big Buck: The Yankees will miss at least one thing from Cleveland – the Big Buck Hunter Pro game that many of them played over the past four days. They’ll probably get over it.
Funny guy, that Pavano: Bruney, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter were among the former teammates who greeted Carl Pavano as he left the Indians clubhouse yesterday, congratulating him on a fine outing. Said a smiling Pavano today: “I’m a 90-pitch pitcher now.” He should not have come out of that game.
See ya Friday: We are taking our first series off over the next three days and have lots to do. (The bosses insist we take time off. We’re slightly paranoid about their insistence, but we mostly take it in stride.) We’ll try to check in a few times between now and the start of the Rays’ series Friday. On Friday, we’ll track down Tino Martinez and ask him your questions. In the meantime, Gordon Damer (the Fantasy Gamer) will fill in Cervelli-style — more than capably! Have a great week!
Gardner is in trouble. With Bruney.
The two are obsessed with the Tiger Woods videogame. They play against each other all time. To the winner goes custody of a Tiger figurine.
When Bruney triumphs, he paints Tiger’s cap, shirt and shoes red. When Gardner prevails, he paints the cap, shirt and shoes green.
Yesterday, Gardner jumped the shark. He painted the entire figurine green. And he put thought into it — he asked a clubbie in Texas to purchase bright green paint and a small paintbrush. Then, he temporarily hid the mini-Tiger from Bruney.
By this morning, Bruney had seen it.
“He painted it like a two year old,” Bruney seethed. “Why did he have to paint the whole thing green? I’m done.”
With the videogame?
“No, with Gardner and the figurine,” Bruney said. “Ask him why he did it.”
Gardner was busy with the Big Buck Hunter Pro arcade game — our apologies for getting the name of the game wrong yesterday — when we were in the clubhouse, so Gardner’s comment on this controversy will have to come postgame or tomorrow.
By the way, sources indicate that Farnsworth owns a Big Buck Hunter Pro and keeps it at his home in Georgia. That’s perfect.
Double time for Jeter: 14-game hitting streak for the Captain and he didn’t waste any time. Jinx this!
Menu musings: Kay just asked the runner to go the concession stand for a slice of pizza. He talked Flaherty into ordering one, too. (Yesterday Kay went with his other staple, chicken fingers and fries.) Kay bought. The slices are huge! Kay usually will eat only the cheese. Today, he’s eating the entire slice. “I feel like treating myself,” he explained.
We ate room-service oatmeal at the hotel for breakfast, so we declined the pizza offer and also will skip The Hal Lebovitz Press Dining Room today.
Yes, to answer your questions, we pay for meals at every ballpark. Tampa is $6. Yankee Stadium and Toronto are $11. Texas and Cleveland are $10. All receipts wind up on expense reports.
In the NFL, teams don’t charge the media for food on gamedays. At least we don’t think any of them do. In fact, some — the Steelers, for sure — allow reporters to eat in the cafeteria during the week, alongside Dan Rooney.
A.J. the tutor: A.J. takes great interest in his teammates and how they’re doing, especially the pitchers. He has developed a particular fondness for Wang, and the two were in the outfield just before noon, getting some throwing in on flat ground.
A.J. finished first and stayed to watch Wang throw. Then, he stepped behind Wang and offered what appeared to be mechanical suggestions. He and Wang were discussing Wang’s grip on the sinker.
We’ll ask A.J. for more details, probably tomorrow.
Melky to return: Girardi expects Melky to be in the lineup tomorrow, after missing four games with the bruised shoulder. It might be Damon who gets a day off; he’s been sore since colliding with the wall/fence in Texas.
Wow! 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 8½ 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.