Tino is back and so is the blog! Tino Martinez is actually here at the stadium. And, yes, he (vaguely) remembered that he was going to answer your questions. In May.
“Do you still have the questions?” Tino asked.
Yes! He’s going to answer them on the next homestand. Cross your fingers.
Derek Jeter: His numbers are MVP-worthy and his recent tear is incredible — heading into tonight, he is batting .509 with 14 runs, three doubles, four homers and 10 RBI over his last 14 games. Tino said this is the best stretch, offensively and defensively, that he’s ever seen from Jeter. And that’s saying something.
Elvis Andrus: He is, indeed, in the building. That was unbelievable range the Rangers shortstop just showed in sliding to field the Matsui grounder up the middle, then throwing home to get Alex. And on his 21st birthday, no less.
Jorge Posada: He is three home runs from joining the 20-home run club; six Yankees are already members this season. Jeter needs four. If his Tigers happen to face the Yankees again in postseason, Jim Leyland won’t call them “Murderer’s Row and Cano” this time around. He might go with Murderer’s Row.
Phil Hughes: Before the last road trip, he cut his locks. But you already knew that. When we asked him about it, he said, “My hair was taking up too much of my day.” Yeah, we know the feeling. He’s a funny guy.
Theo Epstein: The Red Sox GM claims that Jonathan Papelbon is looking forward to having Billy Wagner in the Boston bullpen, despite Papelbon’s previous comments. “I think Pap feels like he was misunderstood,” Epstein told the Boston media. “He’s not a Rhodes Scholar to begin with, obviously. When I talked to him directly about it, he couldn’t have been more excited about the prospect of adding Billy Wagner.” Just had to pass that along. That might be one of the best quotes from a general manager about one of his own players. Ever.
Get ready to chat!
The only thing any of us really need to know: The first live chat is less than 24 hours away! We’ll get it started at 6:45 p.m. tomorrow and hope you can be there. Internet guru Kevin Sullivan will walk us through the first one. Thank goodness. Feel free to watch our pregame show and participate in the chat simultaneously ðŸ™‚
It’s so cold here. Fifty degrees feels like 40.
Interesting that Girardi didn’t rule out two possibilities during pregame: That Alex could return during the upcoming homestand and that Joba could — could — return to the bullpen at some point this season. Girardi could have said “no” to either question. He did not. Hmmm. You have to think Hughes will play an instrumental role in the latter.
I asked Jim Leyland to estimate the impact of putting Alex into this Yankees lineup. “Tremendous,” he said.
Speaking of Hughes: He is (still) just 22 and appears to have bounced back beautifully from a disappointing 2008. Between 3:30-6:30 p.m., he did some running, chatted easily with reporters, signed autographs, interacted with fans and smiled. Smiled a lot. I always feel good for players who face adversity, don’t sulk, pick themselves up and have great attitudes. Put Cano in that category, too.
Guess the Posada hamstring really was of “no concern.” He’s behind the plate.
Melky’s in center again. Girardi essentially said he has no regular center fielder at this point. He prefers to think of it as four guys to play three outfield positions. When Damon or Swisher needs a day, Melky and Gardner both will be out there. Girardi has had a conversation with Gardner, telling him to maintain his confidence and stay ready.
Gardner seemed to enjoy a pre-batting practice card game with Bruney and a couple of others.
The Tigers have had decent attendance so far, which is great to see in this economy, particularly in Detroit. It was strange, even disconcerting, Monday to read dueling headlines in the Detroit Free Press: More layoffs by the car manufacturers while the Lions give Matthew Stafford $41 million in guaranteed money. Stafford faces an incredible task — and that doesn’t include just quarterbacking the woeful Lions. He’ll have to show he identifies with the community here.
Credit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch with a fantastic gesture, having installed the logos of Chrysler, General Motors and Ford above the Comerica Park scoreboard. “The Detroit Tigers support our automakers,” reads the sign below. Ilitch is providing the advertising for free, despite offers from other sponsors to pay up to $2 million for that prime real estate. That’s a tremendous move by the owner of the Tigers. Maybe Ilitch should counsel Stafford.
This is kinda embarrassing, but I’ll share: So, Damon introduces me to a guy named Chris in the clubhouse around 4 o’clock or so. We said hello. He looked slightly familiar, but I didn’t really think twice, other than to make a mental note that it was somewhat unusual for a player to have a random guest in the clubhouse before a game. Then Cone tells me it’s Chris Chelios of the Red Wings. Oops! Bad, bad job by me. It’s a good thing — make that great thing — YES doesn’t do hockey.
Minutes before the pregame, a Yankees fan probably in his 40s walked down the steps of Comerica Park and stood almost directly in front of me. Wearing a full Yankees uniform. Stirrups and all.
Hysterical. And curious. Very curious.
Stating the obvious: The Yankees have no time to lick wounds from their beating in Boston. They haven’t had much sleep, either. They got to their hotel between 3:30 and 4 a.m., depending on whom you ask. At least C.C. flew ahead. So he didn’t have to watch that carnage firsthand and should have gotten a solid eight hours of shuteye.
It’s a warm, pleasant evening in Detroit but Jeter claims there are showers in the forecast. I told him he was being negative.
Mark Melancon is an impressive young pitcher and seems to have it together, based on the two-minute pregame interview we did. Girardi loved how he went directly after hitters, even with the bases loaded; if he continues to do that, Melancon will be here for a while. Girardi also was highly impressed that Melancon coaxed “Mikey Lowell” into a weak groundball with the force at home. Whenever a pitcher limits the damage from Lowell, it impresses Girardi. He loves Mikey Lowell.
Jim Leyland is a truly an original. During his pregame session with reporters in his office, he asked if anyone else wanted a cigarette. No takers, some amusement. Later, before ending the session, he asked “if any of you closet smokers” want a cigarette. No takers, more amusement.
Damon says his left shoulder is barking, which isn’t great news on April 27. He also says he might have to play the rest of his career with a barking shoulder.
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.