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 a quick check-in tonight from Baltimore. Definitely a more upbeat mood today and more country music. Loud country music. The Yankees were jamming to Keith Urban yesterday and won, so they listened to more Keith Urban today. Much to the dismay of some players. (The music, not the winning.)
How about Evan Longoria? Wow, another home run today. He is the future face of the game, maybe sooner than we think.
If Yankees fans get to know Cervelli, they’ll like him. He has a confidence and a friendly air about him. Like he expects himself to play well but will smile while he tells you about it.
The coaching staff has thought about dropping Teixeira in the order but wants to give him a chance in the No. 3 spot with Alex hitting behind him. If time spent in the batting cage with Kevin Long is any indication – and you’ve got to think it is – Teixeira is working hard to get it right.
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. We’ll have a bunch of Mother’s Day wishes from players that will appear during tomorrow’s coverage. And we have a Cody Ransom feature for the batting practice show that is worth seeing. At least we think so.
Just ate PB&J with a yogurt. Trying to be healthy. Allergies are a killer here. Kay had two burgers, strawberries and grapes, and a plate of peanut butter, which he says he ate with a spoon. He says he’s on neither the Atkins nor South Beach diet. Just cutting out carbs. How does anyone live without carbs?