It’s Flashback Friday here at Rogers Centre. Does that mean we can call it Skydome? The Blue Jays look dandy in their powder blues. And they wish it were 1993.
Anyway, Mariano was joking around in the clubhouse before the game. That’s the surest sign that his left groin is feeling better. He’ll throw a side session tomorrow and, if all goes well, be available Sunday.
Derek Jeter: With the way the schedule is breaking, it’s almost certain he’ll break Lou Gehrig’s franchise hits record at home. (Which, really, is how it should be.) Jeter isn’t in the lineup tonight; Girardi called it a planned day off. He’s eight hits shy of tying The Iron Horse and has two games left in Toronto. Then it’s 10 games at home. The record-breaker will be an outstanding moment. How will his teammates congratulate him? Will they go on the field? Or stand at the dugout, joining the ovation?
David Cone: “Are you blogging?” he wants to know. “Yes!” I reply. Through his extensive pre-game research, he has some “offensive tidbits” to pass along.
One, the Yankees don’t chase bad pitches. In fact, they’re best in the Majors at identifying balls and strikes. The Yankees swing at just 22.2 percent of pitches outside the strike zone. The Giants swing at the most — 31.6 percent.
Two, the Yankees are selective, stubbornly so. As are the Red Sox. Boston hitters swing at just 42.4 percent of pitches seen, the lowest rate in baseball. The Yankees are just behind at 42.6 percent. And you wonder why their games are so long.
Yogi Berra: At 7 p.m. on Sept. 17, Fritz Peterson will be at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center for a discussion and signing of his new book, “Mickey Mantle is Going to Heaven.” Fritz had an interesting career; he played with Mantle and Munson and was a 20-game winner in 1970.
Jonathan Papelbon: The Red Sox closer was fined $5,000 by MLB for a pacing violation during his outing Tuesday. (His 2009 salary is $6.25 million.) He said he’s been fined at least five times for taking too long at the start of an inning.
“Game pace, pace of game, or something like that,” Papelbon told the Boston Globe and WEEI.com. “I don’t know why they keep coming after me. It’s probably because I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m not obeying the rules. You’re allowed (two minutes, 25 seconds), and I’m taking too long.”
Remember when Theo Epstein said his closer “isn’t a Rhodes scholar, obviously?” That was funny.
Jay Alford: The Giants defensive lineman is gone for the season after partially tearing his ACL. That’s a shame. Why? Because he went to Atlanta during the offseason to work his tail off with Osi and was going to be a big contributor this season. And he’s a Nittany Lion.
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.
Hello from the Trop. Good thing we’re under cover. It rained hard all day.
Tonight’s game is on My9, which usually means I don’t work. Today I’m at the Trop to finish up some interviews for a Jackie Robinson feature tomorrow — should be a good one; the pressure is on producer Jared Boshnack 🙂 — and to watch at least the beginning of what should be a great pitching matchup.
Just got back to the booth from the field. Flaherty bought dinner and made the independent decision to get me a grilled chicken sandwich. Nice move. He’s having the same thing. Kay and Cone are eating chicken tenders and fries.
Dave Eiland talked about Wang, saying he’s seen the same struggles and arm angle issues before — during the ’07 playoffs and during a brief period last year, before Wang got hurt.
Eiland said Wang looked strong in the bullpen, as late as 6:45 p.m. Monday. But, the stuff obviously didn’t translate into the game.
“He’s the one who has to do it,” Eiland said. “The player always has to do it.”
Eiland and Girardi met with Wang behind closed doors, probably talking about those things and also making sure Wang remains confident.
“It’s there; I’ve seen it,” Eiland said of Wang’s good stuff. “He just has to take it into a game. He’s going to get it. He’s going to get it because it’s there.”
All of that being said, the Yankees believed last night was a big start for Wang because they didn’t want his awful debut to carry over. That makes Wang’s next start really big, for his mechanics as well as his confidence.
Talked with Alex Rodriguez, who is at the game again tonight. He said he awoke with usual workout soreness but nothing that would be of any concern. He said Dr. Philipon was delighted to hear that. The rain changed Alex’s workout a bit, but not much, and he remains encouraged and upbeat. (His interest in the blog was minimal, though he did ask the name of it. He suggested I sign up Swisher for some sort of a role. Not an awful idea. Everyone wants a piece of Swisher these days.)
Hung out with Mariano for a while as the Rays took BP. Evan Longoria walked along the third base line and tipped his cap. Nice. Mariano appreciated that. It was funny to watch the Rays, especially Longoria, keep an eye on Mariano. He’s baseball royalty. Once Don Zimmer started motioning and yelling over, I knew I was done. Sure enough, Mariano went over to Zim, saying he loves him and had to say hello.
Gabe Kapler had an awesome response to being struck out by Swisher: He now has an answer when people ask him his most embarrassing moment. Also said he had no problem with Swisher’s wanting to keep the ball.
Joe Maddon marveled at that catch Upton made. (Who didn’t?) He said it was as technically perfect as it could have been. Maddon and Molina shared a nice moment during BP. There is much respect between the two, from their days with the Angels.
A long trip is a step closer to coming home. Kay says he’s already packed. Already a better start for the Yanks with Gardner getting a bloop hit.
Mark Teixeira was a late scratch (around 5:15 p.m. local time) and expected to see the Royals doctor about his sore left wrist before the game. Kevin Long told me that Teixeira took only four swings right-handed before saying he couldn’t go. “Obviously, we don’t want him out of the lineup,” K-Long said when I asked his level of concern. We’ll have more from Girardi on postgame. (I love the “level of concern” question and know that I ask it all the time.)
Very, very generous offer from Kay, who bought dinner for the guys. He even made Patrick (one of our runners here in K.C.) find me to ask if I wanted anything.
What a gesture! I’m not always easy to find.
But, I had already eaten chicken and mashed potatoes (two scoops) in the press dining room, so I passed. Patrick reports that Kay gave him a “crisp, new $50” to pay for din-din. He also says that since Flaherty bought yesterday and Kay today, it must be Cone’s turn tomorrow. I like Patrick.
OK, so Kay and Flaherty each ordered a burger and fries. Both burgers plain. Kay must be rubbing off on Flaherty. Cone went with the Italian sausage with mustard. Crazy guy.
By the way, the Royals charge $10 for dinner but have no receipts to prove it. So, when I file my expense report with Bruce Williams, I will include this blog entry.
Wanted to catch part of the Red Sox-Angels game today but didn’t. Must have been a good game (Don’t know if you saw it, but the Angels did an outstanding job with the Nick Adenhart tribute Friday night. Thank you, MLB.tv.). In the clubhouse today the players were watching the Masters. Swisher says he’s a 13-handicap. It’s impossible to imagine Swisher on a golf course, exhibiting the requisite decorum.
“I’m calm when I golf,” Swisher insists. “Really, I am.”
So, now we know the two places the guy isn’t going 100 mph: At the plate and on the course.
Big day for autograph seekers here at the New K: Joba and Mariano signed for a while after BP. Gotta watch the game now. See you on the post!
Flaherty just bought lunch for the fellas. What a great teammate! Flaherty, Kay and Cone are each having a personal pan pizza from the concession stand. Actually, Cone isn’t eating his, not yet.
Today had “rain delay” written all over it, so the weather is a pleasant surprise.
Swisher is (still) shot out of a cannon. It’ll be interesting to see how Girardi finds enough at-bats to keep Swisher and Nady happy. Both want to play every day. Yes, it should help that Swisher is versatile.
CC said he really likes the recently-renovated Kauffman Stadium. He seemed genuinely impressed when he walked out of the dugout. He’s started 16 games here, tied with the Metrodome for most in his career of any road stadium, so he’s pretty familiar with the place. (He’s 8-5 with a 3.62.)
The standing room only area in right field is cool. You’re above or below the fountains and it has to be a pretty nice view.
A.J. Burnett ran the indoor stadium steps this morning. His work ethic has really impressed Girardi. I need to run some steps, or just run. Haven’t seen enough of the treadmill this week.
Game time is nearing. The field looks like halftime of a bowl game at the moment. It also looks like every seat is full.