A quiet Sunday morning in the clubhouse. The Yankees held optional batting practice. CC was hanging out with his 5-year-old son. Lil’ C watched his dad’s side session then took some hacks in the cage. Not surprisingly, Lil’ C can swing the bat.
A bunch of players were knee-deep in preparations for their fantasy football draft, scheduled for tonight. There were more fantasy football magazines in the clubhouse than there are at 7-Eleven. Rumor has it, Hinske is taking his job as league commissioner very, very seriously.
A day after wearing a Donovan McNabb jersey, Bruney sauntered to his locker wearing a Tony Romo jersey. He says he’s a lifelong Cowboys fan and wore the Eagles jersey because it was a gift from Damon. Hughes seemed disgusted by that. Hughes and Bruney have the first and second overall picks in the fantasy draft.
We’ll get you plenty of info on the fantasy football developments before the NFL season starts Sept. 10. Alex is part of the league. He was wearing a Bears hat yesterday. “I just like the hat,” he said. “It was a gift.”
What’s going on with all the NFL-themed gifts?
Joba Chamberlain: The Joba Rules are something. He’s out after three innings and 35 pitches. Aceves is in. Can’t wait to hear what Joba says about this outing after the game. One question looking ahead to next season: Will there be Hughes Rules?
George Martin: Two weeks from today, Sept. 13, the all-time great New York Giant will continue his Journey for 9/11 by walking from the George Washington Bridge to Giants Stadium. The 13-mile walk begins at 10 a.m. It ends in plenty of time for the Giants season opener at 4:15. Harry Carson and O.J. Anderson will join Martin, who walked across the country — 3,003 miles — on his original “Journey,” which benefits responders to 9/11 and helps with their healthcare needs. (We’d walk if we could; the Yankees have a 1 p.m. tilt against the Orioles that day.) For more information, go to ajourneyfor911.info.
The wild card: Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times does a great job breaking down the wild card battle. “It’s going to be interesting,” Joe Maddon said. “The Rangers are good, Boston’s good, we’re good. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a fun September.” The Red Sox visit the Rays Tuesday to begin a three-game series. Playing at home and behind in the three-team race, Tampa has to win two. At least.
Between the long weekend series and some radio work on WFAN, trying to find a second wind as a blogger…
Phil Hughes and Ricky Romero: They trained together in the offseason at Athletes Performance Institute in L.A. Given the way the two have pitched this season, Hughes laughed when he said, “API has probably gotten some good publicity” out of it. Hughes hopes to go back over the winter. Carl Crawford and a bunch of NFL players also have worked out at API.
A.J. Burnett: He’s back on the mound amid a slightly different atmosphere than his last outing. After Monday’s game, A.J. said he finally could change his jeans. He wore the same pair every day during the seven-game winning streak.
Joba Chamberlain: Asked him today if he believes his bout with shoulder tendinitis last August has influenced the Yankees into being ultra-careful with his innings limit this season. He said no. He attributes it solely to the studies done that show young pitchers can be negatively affected by significantly exceeding the previous year’s production. “That’s for smart people to worry about,” he said. “I just go out and pitch.” As for the postseason, Joe Girardi says “all hands on deck,” meaning there will be no innings limitation on anyone. Joba anticipates his role being “as a starter. I don’t plan on going back to the bullpen.” Then he softly added, “Hopefully.”
Derek Jeter: Hit by a pitch on his right foot during his first at-bat. It looked like he was in pain, even if he won’t admit it.
Chad Gaudin: He’ll start Saturday or Sunday, with Sergio Mitre getting the other start. He says he’s extremely happy to be here; his locker is next to Mariano Rivera’s. As for his last name, it’s Go-DAN. “No pause between (syllables),” he said. Got it.
Rob Thomson: The third-base coach offered no excuses for sending Mark Teixeira in the first last night. “Bad send,” he told Kay and me, adding that he didn’t realize – obviously – that the relay throw had reached the second baseman, Aaron Hill, just as Teixeira was touching third. Thomson also said Teixeira did the right thing in giving himself up to be tagged out. “We didn’t want to get anyone hurt,” he said. Thomson wondered throughout the game if that run would come back to bite the Yankees. It didn’t. Of course, Thomson’s aggressiveness at third has helped the Yankees far more often than it’s hurt this season. We never seem to talk about that.
Paul O’Neill: He says he’s not scheduled to do another series until Boston comes to town Sept. 25. The pizza orders for the booth will be greatly diminished in the meantime. It’s amazing how much pizza, ice cream and pancakes he consumes. Even Leiter is amazed. And by the way, O’Neill golfed yesterday at Winged Foot — “awesome,” he says — and remains particularly proud of his eagle on 16 and birdie on 9. Paul’s buddy, Stone Phillips, won the match with a birdie on 18.
Jeter: An inning later, he’s out of the game and Ramiro Pena’s in. Jeter will undergo X-rays. Updates on postgame, for sure.
Guess who paid a visit to the Yankees clubhouse before the game? George M. Steinbrenner III. He then moved upstairs to a suite where he is watching the game – believed to be the first time he’s seen the Yankees play in person since the season opener.
Mr. Steinbrenner visited in the manager’s office for about 45 minutes during and after batting practice. Players came in to shake hands and visit with him.
Michael Kay says Mr. Steinbrenner kiddingly asked Matsui why he doesn’t speak English yet. Matsui answered in English, saying he uses interpreter Roger Kahlon only for the media. Surely, everyone in the room got a kick out of that.
C.C. and CC: Nice job by Crawford and Sabathia today in answering questions, giving advice and offering batting and pitching tips to 300 kids from local Boys and Girls Clubs. Both also signed lots of autographs. CC signs with his right-handed, interestingly. Then again, Joba signs with his left.
Alfredo Aceves: He has a fatigued pitching shoulder, which is why he’s been on the mound for just one-third of an inning over the past eight days. For the past three days, he received treatment. He says he woke up this morning feeling “great.” Then he threw 20 fastballs off the mound before batting practice and said he felt “great.” Girardi says he’d be inclined to think about using Aceves tomorrow in Chicago.
Shelley Duncan: Assuming the bullpen is refreshed, the Yankees could add a right-handed bat for the White Sox series, when they’ll see lefty starters on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If they stay in-house, Duncan is a possibility. Girardi said if they do go the call-up route, it wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent move; it could be something that simply makes sense for, say, a four-game series.
Joba Chamberlain: He looks so much better when gets the ball and throws it. No more shaking off Posada 100 times. It seems to work nicely.
Marissa of Central Jersey: She’s 15 and she’s a blog reader and she presented us with a box of Mike & Ike’s today at the Trop. Thank you, Marissa! Maybe we’ll save them for Chicago and share with Leiter. Maybe.
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.
In three hours, the Yankees will disperse in many directions, with most coaches and players going to their offseason homes and three Yankees heading to St. Louis. There are a bunch of people hoping to not do a whole lot over the next four days. A four-day All-Star break is big. We’ll be on WFAN from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. this week with Adam the Bull. Yes, we’ll try to blog a bit during the week. And, no, Twitter won’t be happening anytime soon.
Phil Hughes: We can’t help you with posting the Innerview. Really, we just don’t know how. But, Internet Guru Kevin Sullivan reads this blog. Hopefully, we’ll get back to posting those Innerviews here for those of you who, for some reason, miss our “Batting Practice Today presented by Audi.”
Bobby Abreu: He seems to enjoy playing against the Yankees, huh? But not as much as Howie Kendrick, who mystified the Angels with his awful start to the season but has hit the Yankees. Of course.
Chone Figgins: He’ll be a free agent after the season. It would be interesting to see how the free market assesses his value. He’s just perfect for the Angels.
Joba Chamberlain: Had a nice pre-game chat at his locker. His frame of mind is good. He truly believes he’ll have a strong second half. (Then again, what’s he going to say?) He figures a few quiet days at home in Nebraska will do him good.
Eric Hinske: He’s fitting in quite nicely. After he was acquired in a trade, a bunch of Yankees, perhaps chiefly Damon, were absolutely certain he’d make a strong contribution. Two starts — and three home runs — in, they seem to be correct. It’ll be interesting if Girardi can keep all of his outfielders happy — Hinske makes five for three spots — if all of them continue to play well.
Sergio Mitre: His eight scoreless innings for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre have to make him the odds-on favorite to start against the Orioles a week from Tuesday. He struck out five and walked none and, unlike Aceves, starting Mitre won’t tax the bullpen for days. Or shouldn’t.
Mark Teixeira: Overheard at his locker today, a reporter asking Teixeira, “When did you know you could bring the thunder?” Teixeira’s response: “What does that mean?” The reporter, who isn’t a regular on the Yankees beat: “Swing the bat.” Teixeira then answered.
The All-Star break is coming at a good time. We’ll look forward to mixing in some Q&As with players and coaches in the second half. This initial run with the blog has been fun, if a bit of a work in progress. As always, thanks for reading.
Can you believe Michael Jackson is dead? When he was a kid, Joba had a poster of Chipper Jones on the wall of his bedroom. We had a poster of Michael Jackson. Just startling news. Right up until gametime, CNN was playing on the TVs in the press room here at Turner Field. Everyone’s talking about it. Probably everywhere.
Speaking of Joba, he was delighted to meet Chipper before the game. The two talked for 15 minutes. Chipper was gracious, giving Joba some tips based on the considerable amount of video he watched before facing Joba last night. Chipper probably had some worthwhile advice; he had two hits. Anyway, Joba was almost awestruck talking about Chipper after BP. That’s cool. And a reminder that Joba is so young, at 23. And that Chipper, at 37, is old. By baseball standards. (By the way, Joba wanted to thank media relations guru Jason Zillo for setting up the meeting with Chipper. So we’ll help him out with that.)
Derek Jeter: There were signs wishing Jeter a happy birthday a day early; he turns 35 tomorrow. One woman held this sign: “I’m on my honeymoon. Come see me, Derek.” Someday we’re going to have to ask Jeter if he notices this stuff. How could he not?
Alex Rodriguez: He said before the game that the past two days are the best he’s felt at the plate. Then he crushes a first-inning solo home run to center. And now an RBI-single to center.
Chicken parmesan: It’s a favorite of Kay’s, and they’re serving it tonight in the press dining room. He gave positive reviews. We second that. And the Edy’s soft-serve for dessert didn’t hurt. We ate dinner with Sweeny and Pete Abraham. They, too, have fond memories of MJ from when they were kids.
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.
One of the most common questions people ask is, What is your favorite road city?
After yesterday, an off day spent in captivity, we can safely say this in response: It’s not Cleveland.
As you would suspect, the players and coaches had a blast at the Magic-Cavs game. Team bonding is big, CC says, and he did his part, purchasing two suites for the night and handing out tickets to all of his buddies. Apparently, Ben Roethlisberger was the only celeb to receive more boos than Alex on the Jumbotron. (Or whatever they call those gigantic arena screens these days.) CC got a mixed response. (“I knew I’d hear some boos,” he said.) Brady Quinn was cheered, as was Jhonny Peralta. Eric Mangini couldn’t be captured by cameras; he was at the concession stand.
And Carl Pavano got a big ovation! Cleveland loves Carl!
More Joba: There is plenty of room for healthy debate when it comes to Joba’s best role on this team. Because this is a win-now group, because Joba has been electric as a reliever and because the Yankees need late-inning help, we believe he should be the bullpen. But there is a viable argument that it is better for Joba’s development — and for the Yankees — for him to remain in the rotation.
What we cannot stand is this: The idea that one side of the argument is wholly without merit. (And, therefore, dumb, stupid or idiotic.) That’s just not true. Men who know a heck of a lot more about baseball than we do — and some who reside in the Yankees clubhouse — fall on opposite sides of that discussion. And we don’t consider any of those guys “dumb,” “stupid” or “idiotic” — especially when it comes to baseball.
It’s actually a fun debate, one with clear sides, which we should have some day with, say, Peter Abraham, who is a staunch Joba-as-starter guy. In the meantime, we continue to remember Ozzie Guillen, who tends to call it like he sees it, saying last summer he’d much rather see Joba once every five days than every day of a series.
Dining room dish: The highlight of the $10-per press dining room in Cleveland is the ice cream, specifically the Moose Tracks variety. Flaherty had some, as did we. Kay had two burgers: “The worst burgers I’ve ever had,” he says. “No bun.”
“Joe Girardi Show” producer Jared Boshnack, who is here on assignment, orchestrated a trip to the main concourse, where we purchased a chicken sandwich and he opted for bratwurst. ($14 and that included an order of fries.) We both had lemonade. It almost seemed like summer. This was during the rain delay.
Jorge’s back: Posada returned and Cash was optioned. Many media reports indicated that Cash was out of options and would have to be designated for assignment. Girardi and Cashman — who would know — said that is untrue, so Cash was, indeed, sent down to Triple-A. Cervelli remains. That’s not a surprise, given the way Cervelli has impressed the pitchers and coaches as a quick study and great communicator — and very capable backstop — behind the plate.
Three more nights in Cleveland. We always judge road trips by the number of nights. Three more is a lot. We’ll probably pack tomorrow night, just for mental-health purposes. Let’s catch up again soon.
Flaherty’s first words to us today were these: “You have to update the blog.”
The man knows whereof he speaks.
Hello from Arlington, where little, tiny, light brown bugs are taking over the universe! But it’s not raining and there is no threat of rain, so no one’s complaining.
Speaking of not complaining: Guess who checked in via email? Polly! Wearing her perfectly pink do-rag, she visited us at Yankee Stadium last Wednesday and captivated the clubhouse. (Polly wrote that she was “VERY nervous.” We don’t believe her. LOL) She also wrote, “Words can’t even begin to express what the day meant to me. It was one surprise after another! … It was all just incredible! I don’t think I have ever smiled that much. I think Nick Swisher had a lot to do with that! His attitude and love for life is contagious!” Polly rocks! One reason we got along so well was because we both love exclamation points! Stay in touch, Polly. And keep fighting.
The return of Posada, (temporary) departure of Melky: Melky is day-to-day with a bruised right shoulder and is headed back to New York to see team doctor Chris Ahmad. If Ahmad believes Melky can be back within a week, Girardi says the Yankees can live with that. If not, Melky might be DL-bound and the Yanks would need to call up an outfielder. (And they might have to do something with Berroa one of these days.) Meanwhile, Posada will rejoin the team Friday, after catching five innings in Tampa today. But don’t expect Cervelli to go anywhere. At least not yet. The pitchers love him, which could create some interesting dynamics. Stay tuned.
Joba, Joba, Joba: Joba is a big kid who was fooling around in the clubhouse with a little laser that A.J. bought him at a gas station here. Seriously, a gas station. He got a kick — a big kick — out of pointing a red dot at unsuspecting teammates. Joba’s big personality extends to the mound, as we all know, but he just seems more natural in the 8th-inning than in the starting rotation. At least that’s our view. It would seem an athlete who can dominate at a position helps a team more than an athlete whose results are, so far, a mixed bag in another role. Obviously there are two sides to this, and both can make relevant points. But there are plenty of voices in the clubhouse who agree with us, but it’s a silent chorus. At the moment. (If Bruney’s flexor mass strain in his elbow leads to a long — or painful — absence, you might start to hear the chatter.)
Food fight: The press dining at Rangers Ballpark features chicken and pork tonight, along with a salad bar and (very) soft-serve ice cream. The zucchini was tasty. M&Ms made the ice cream better. And something tells us there will be a lot of food consumed on the team charter bound for Cleveland later tonight. On days like these, the will power wanes when the Twix bars are getting passed around. Sigh.
Coke and a slider? Coke was still disgusted with himself today for throwing a slider to Chris Davis last night. The ball wound up in the seats. “I threw a slider to a guy with slider bat speed,” were Coke’s words. “Right in his barrel.” We asked Coke if it reminded him of the slider Morneau deposited among Yankee Stadium fans. “No, that was a hanging slider,” Coke said. “I thanked Morneau for hitting that pitch – because that’s what it deserved.”
“Yeah, I said thanks during BP the next day,” Coke said. “He just smiled and pointed at me.”
In his next outing Coke got Morneau to strike out on a series of fastballs away.”Tino Martinez told me to do that,” Coke said. “We were talking during BP and he said lefties at Yankee Stadium hate fastballs down and away because there’s nothing they can do with them.”
That Tino is full of advice.
“I like talking to him,” Coke said. “He knows the game, and he knows how the stadium plays.”
Since he mentioned Tino: We’re still accepting a FEW more questions for the Tino Q&A. He’ll answer him during the Tampa series of the next homestand and we’ll post them. Like we did with O’Neill.