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.
Beautiful night in the Bronx. It’s Hope Week at Yankee Stadium, which is a fantastic undertaking by the organization. We could all use a little hope.
Chien-Ming Wang: And that includes Wang, who felt pain while playing an innocuous game of catch this afternoon, his first on-field action since pitching against Toronto July 4. At this point, it will be a bonus if the Yankees get anything out of Wang this season. Girardi said as much. That puts a premium, obviously, on Joba and Andy having better second halves than first halves.
Sergio Mitre: He’ll start tomorrow night against the O’s (on My9), and he’s the fifth starter. Meaning, he’s not in the rotation on a start-to-start basis. He’s in the rotation. Girardi says they can count on 100 pitches from Mitre. If he’s up to the job, he would give this team some peace of mind.
Alfredo Aceves: If the Yankees have to resort to using a reliever as a starter, it’s likely to be Aceves not Hughes. Girardi says it would take Hughes 25 days or so to build up starter’s arm strength. It would take Aceves less time. And, let’s face it, Hughes is just so good where he is right now, it’s tough to think about moving him. Maybe impossible.
Adam Jones: The O’s All-Star CF cleans his own shoes. Today he was cleaning his own bats. He figures the clubbies have other things to do. He also had a blast at the All-Star Game — probably his first of many — meeting President Obama and taking groundballs with Jeter before the game. He said the highlight was high-fiving his fellow All-Stars after the win.
Derek Jeter says he still gets goosebumps during player introductions for the All-Star Game. That’s cool.
So is this: The second half of the season is officially underway in the Bronx.
Sergio Mitre: He’ll make the start Tuesday. Aceves is too valuable in the bullpen and will stay there. You definitely get the feeling the No. 5 spot in the rotation might be Sergio’s for a while.
Chien-Ming Wang: He’s scheduled to play catch Sunday or Monday, Girardi said. This might be a lost season for Wang, who’s logged just 42 innings in nine starts and 12 appearances this season.
Joba Chamberlain: He said his four-day break spent in Nebraska was perfectly relaxing. When he asked about ours, we told him we spend 20 hours (on WFAN’s midday show with Adam the Bull) talking about him. Joba shook his head and laughed.
Phil Hughes: Girardi says he’s comfortable with the rotation and believes Pettitte and Joba each will have a big second half. He said he’d become concerned about the rotation if the Yankees were to lose CC or AJ to injury. (Uh, yeah, you’d think so.) Anyway, it would only be under such a dire scenario that Hughes would return to the rotation this sea son. At least that’s how things stand today. Hughes owns an ERA of 0.98 in 13 relief outings.
Mike Mussina: He’ll be here for Old Timer’s Day. Wow, an old timer. We’ll have ask Mussina how that sounds.
Al Leiter: He brought Mike and Ikes to the booth! And Twizzlers. Nice.
Tino Martinez: Hey, maybe he’ll be here for Old Timer’s Day! We’ll corner him with your (very old) questions.
You readers rock! We’re all set with questions from you for Phil Hughes who will do the “Innerview” for the “Batting Practice Show presented by Audi” during the Seattle series. Probably Tuesday. If you submit a question now (in the comments), it’ll have to be a good one to make the cut. Thanks! Hughes says he’s looking forward to it. And we believe him.
Tuesday is also our next chat, at 6:45 p.m. from the Stadium. It’ll be a busy day. Selfish promo: Along with Adam the Bull, we’re filling in from 6-10 a.m. next week on WFAN for Boomer & Carton. We have big shoes to fill!
All aboard! We learned late this afternoon that the Yankees held a team meeting after last night’s 4-0 loss. Coaches and players were present. Jeter and Teixeira were the only ones to talk. Their messages were about staying positive, knowing they are better than what they’ve shown and HAVING to play better. Pretty basic stuff for a team that’s 4-9 over its last 13 games. Girardi likes this sort of thing; he wants his players to voice their opinions. A.J. is serving his five-game suspension, so he wasn’t in the clubhouse. If he had been, the smart money is that he also would have spoken up.
Johnny Damon: He’s not close to 100 percent with that left calf problem but knows the team needs him. He’s used to playing hurt.
Chien-Ming Wang: Since last night’s game was on My9, we didn’t talk to Wang until today. He smiled a bit and said he was mostly pleased with his outing. He’s starting to get that confident look back. He and Mariano chatted about some things today. Don’t know the details, but that’s a good friend for Wang to have.
Chipper Jones: Talked to him for today’s “Innerview.” Add him to the list of WBC alums in love with Jeter. He went on and on about the Captain, joining Pedroia, Rollins and DeRosa, who did so in previous “Innerviews.” Chipper’s a fun guy, even if Mets fans don’t think so. Said he received his two seats from Shea Stadium today! What timing!
Joba Chamberlain: He was hitting balls into the left field seats in BP and wanted to make sure we took note of that. Check. We told him we wanted to see it during the game. He didn’t make any promises. He did, however, just hit a liner off Kawakami’s neck. It appears the pitcher is OK; he walked off under his power but he’s out of the game. By the way, on the scoreboard here, it gives an “Upper Deck Scouting Report” for players. Joba’s read, in part, “upper 90s FB.” Joba likes Atlanta, where nobody complains about his velocity.
Cody Ransom: Nice to see him back. He is a really good guy who didn’t play nearly as well as he’d hoped in April. Now he gets another chance in a role off the bench. Berroa was designated for assignment, much to Pete Abraham’s dismay.
Nate McLouth: The Braves CF has made two impressive catches – one was terrific – and it’s only the third inning. He said he feels energized by playing in a bigger market and on a more competitive team than the Pirates. He also marvels at the Bay-McLouth-Nady outfield that Pittsburgh had – and still could have. All three are nice guys and they keep in touch with each other, mostly via texts.
Michael Kay: He sent Peter the Runner to the concession stands for a slice of pizza. It was so good, he sent Peter for another. Then we sent Peter for one. Peter is a regular at the pizza stand. “Did you blog about the pizza?” Kay just asked between innings. Now we did.
A trivia question:
What does Kay eat during a rain delay?
A. Peanut M&Ms
B. Fruit Loops
D. Nathan’s French Fries
E. All of the above
The answer is E. That’s what happens when a rain delay stretches to nearly four hours, and counting, for a scheduled 1 p.m. start.
You might wonder how we’re spending the day. It probably would be more interesting to know how the players spent the day, but we can’t ask them that for a while. Probably a long while.
We did have a chance to confirm with Internet Guru Kevin Sullivan that our next chat will be Tuesday, June 30. We’ll provide a million reminders before then.
Hopefully, Wang enjoyed his first appearance on the YES postgame show last night. He was great, considering he says he’s not comfortable on camera, and very happy about the birth of Justin Jesse, his 7-pound, 12-ounce son. He stood at his locker amid congratulatory balloons, and he was holding a piece of paper with the baby’s footprints.
And now he gets to make another start – Tuesday at Atlanta. Life is good for Wang.
Kay is yelling at us, for no apparent reason.
“Kim,” he said, as he brushed his hair, “are you losing steam?”
Honestly, the answer is yes. There is no Red Bull in the press dining room.
“You better pick it up,” Kay said. “You’re not even blogging today.”
Actually, we are.
“Why did you just brush your hair?”
“Because I thought it needed it,” he replied.
This is riveting stuff, isn’t it?
Anyway, there has been an inordinate amount of food consumed by people in the YES booth. Except Flaherty, who has consumed blueberries, grilled chicken and almonds, all of which he brought from home. He was smart to pack.
For some reason, there are now cupcakes, chocolate-covered strawberries, M&Ms, cookies, Cracker Jacks, Twizzlers and Fruit Loops all within arm’s reach. It’s insane.
It seems like hours and hours ago – weeks, really – that we were in the clubhouse this morning. Swisher was updating the collage of teammates’ pictures that adorns a wall of his locker. By now, he’s probably covered several walls. And several lockers.
What do starting pitchers do on days like this? We’ll have to ask Joba.
We’ve looked through a couple of newspapers that are strewn across the booth. Shocking news on Billy Joel and his wife. Thought they were for keeps.
This has become mind-numbing. It seems like they should have been able to play five innings by now. No wonder Girardi says he’s looking forward to the weather in Florida.
It’s a good thing Bruney returns Tuesday from the DL. He’s been so bored, he decided to pick on Francisco Rodriguez.
And it’s a good thing the Yankees have a day off tomorrow. When these days off at home roll around, you always get the feeling that every single player and coach is in need of a little break.
Not to mention the rest of us.
Johan Santana: Who wants to bet the Yankees will have more success against him today than they did against Nieve yesterday? (Full disclosure: Cano is currently on third with one out in the second inning.)
Mariano Rivera: A reader, or two, has asked about Mariano in non-save situations. When we asked him for Friday’s postgame about the difference in those spots, he said he honestly doesn’t know but wishes he did. And he kind of smiled and shook his head as he said it. Like he’s as befuddled as anyone about the disparity in his results. Mariano has coverted 13 consecutive regular-season save opportunities against the Mets.
Al Leiter: Doesn’t bring Mike & Ikes to the booth anymore. Which is sad.
Chien Ming-Wang: Pete Abraham, who is an expert on Wang, says the birth of a child is said to bring good luck in Chinese culture. No doubt, Wang needs good luck — and a good outing Wednesday. Cashman said today that Wang has to attack hitters, trust his stuff and get back to pitching to contact, which means trusting his defense too. And if he doesn’t have success against the Nationals? Cashman said he, Eiland and Girardi will have another meeting. And this time, they probably won’t decide to give him another start — not with the way Hughes has been pitching.
Francisco Cervelli: A bloop single gets the Yankees on the board against Santana. It’s no surprise Cervelli is catching A.J., who just doesn’t pitch well with Posada behind the plate. (7.48 ERA in four starts with Posada. 3.81 in eight starts with Molina or Cash.)
Derek Jeter: An RBI single by the Captain, 2-0 Yankees. Funny how Nieve looked like a Cy Young Award winner yesterday and Santana is having to battle today. Damon with a two-run single, 4-0 Yankees. Santana doesn’t look like Santana, does he?
Michael Kay: He tries to fool all of us with a plate of watermelon in front of him. “Oh, you’re eating healthy?” Cone asked. “Now I am,” Kay replied. “I had pancakes and bacon earlier.” And he just reached into his bag for an Atkins bar.
Audrey the Stage Manager reports that she had ice cream for breakfast. Yes, we are all obsessed with food.
Kay just complained that the blog is an “invasion of my privacy.” He’s lying. He loves the attention. And he’s drinking Diet Pepsi for the first time in a month and he’s all fired up. (“Blog that!” he says. We will!) Maybe he’s trying to compete with Leiter and his Red Bull.
By the way, Kay had the pancakes dry, no syrup. “Never syrup!” he yelled during a commercial break. “That would bastardize the pancakes.” Really, he’s an interesting guy, isn’t he?
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!
Who’s the AccuWeather guy on our pregame? Haven’t seen him. Maybe we should ask him why they always get forecasts wrong. Or why it feels like March in October.
Or maybe we should just leave the poor guy alone and worry about blogging.
(By the way, this is last night’s post being posted this morning. Not sure what happened with the exchange last night. Catch you later today.)
No Beantown blues: One of you asked how the media is treated in Boston. Like dogs! Just kidding. The reporters mostly get along. (Some of the NY writers don’t exactly love each other, but that has nothing to do with Boston.) The players seem to get along. (Everyone in baseball talks to Big Papi during batting practice and the Yankees players are no exception.) The fans sometimes yell vile/nasty things, but that’s life. Boston is no different than any other place. Generally speaking, fans — and especially some callers to sports talk radio — have more venom than players or members of the media do.
On the menu: So everyone wishes Kenny a very Happy Birthday! Kenny had a nice lunch with his wife, whose blog “Mrs. Singy: Married to Baseball” is also available for your perusal on this site.
Besides Kenny’s chocolate cake, which is being cut as we write, dinner in the press dining room dinner included grilled chicken, peas and mac and cheese. Pretty healthy, particularly the chicken. So Kay went with ice cream for dinner. Flaherty had chicken and pizza; we had chicken, peas and mac and cheese. (We ate separately; no one likes to wait until after my pregame pop to eat with me. Well, actually, O’Neill does sometimes.) The Boston press dining is making a comeback this series. Much better than when we were here in April, when it was uncharacteristically slumping.
Speaking of slumps: The Boston fans are giving a clinic in how to treat a struggling superstar. They cheered Ortiz for flying out to deep center. The ball went to the deepest part of the park, but Ortiz walked off the field with his head hung.
And with the fans — some of whom were standing — cheering him.
Can Wang get right? The Red Sox scouting report on Wang indicated that he isn’t the old Wang, neither in command nor in velocity. Turns out, it was right as, for the second night in a row, the Yankees starter went two and 2/3. Not exactly what Girardi was hoping for.
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.
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.