The good news from the bullpen is that Mariano Rivera feels great and says his previously sore left groin is 100 percent.
The not-so-good news, delivered today by Joe Girardi, is that David Robertson has been experiencing stiffness in his right elbow for the past 10 days to two weeks. He’s been shut down until he sees Dr. James Andrews, the specialist in all injuries to athletes, presumably in his Birmingham, Ala., office.
Robertson said he’s not worried. “It’s a concern of mine,” Girardi said, noting Robertson’s “ability to get strikeouts (has been) about as good as anybody in baseball.”
Robertson has struck out 54 batters in 36 1/3 innings since May 26. With 61 K’s in 41 innings overall, he ranks first in average strikeouts per nine innings among AL relievers who quality (at least 40 innings).
This could be encouraging: Robertson has been pitching well, with his usual (or higher) velocity, even with the lingering stiffness. Girardi called that “interesting and unusual.”
For now Girardi is without one option in the bullpen, something a division leader with a nine-game lead can live with in September. On a night when Girardi would use Robertson to give Hughes or even Bruney a night off, he’ll now look to Aceves, Albaladejo, Coke or Marte. “We have a little less flexibility and (fewer) weapons,” Girardi said.
Always optimistic, Girardi is hopeful that Robertson — whom he called “a huge part of our bullpen” — will return relatively soon and contribute in October.
Tino Martinez: I spotted him today at the stadium and he says he’ll be here tomorrow. I’ll ask 10 questions (or so) of Tino that are representative of the ones you submitted back in May. And the Q&A will be posted on the blog by Thursday.
Reminder: I’ll be chatting at 6:45 p.m. tomorrow until first pitch. Hope you can join me!
Thank you: For reading and for the birthday wishes. Very nice.
The outside of Rogers Centre includes large portraits of Toronto-area stars. (That includes Buffalo.) Trent Edwards of the Bills is flanked by Cito Gaston and B.J. Ryan. To the left of Ryan are Scott Rolen, Roy Halladay. Alex Rios is pictured elsewhere around the dome.
Ryan’s gone, Rolen’s gone, Rios is gone and Halladay might be gone this winter. Presumably this offseason there will be some redecorating on the exterior. The Blue Jays — who’ve weathered 12 disabled list stints by 10 pitchers this season — haven’t spent money wisely and don’t have as much as they’d like to spend. That’s toxic.
Meanwhile, on the interior, fans are few and far between. The sparse crowd here – on Ladies Night, no less — follows three nowhere-near-capacity gatherings in Baltimore.
That’s the awful part of baseball season when a team is out of it by Labor Day. Or Independence Day.
Mariano Rivera: He knows panic could ensue whenever his health is in question. He said he’ll be fine. But his left groin is “sore.” In Seattle last month, it “grabbed” and resulted in one appearance over a week’s time as he rested and underwent treatment. This time, Mariano said it might be a few days. He will be cautious. Girardi said it is uncomfortable — “like walking on hot coals” uncomfortable — to think about not having the Hall of Fame closer.
Jonathan Albaladejo: Have you seen his face? He looks like he was in a fight and lost. Big-time. Actually, he was playing catch with Edwar Ramirez on Monday and missed the ball, which hit him just above his left eye. He got a Band-Aid. Within 30 minutes, he had two shiners that are now a mixture of black, blue, purple and pink. The Yankees waited until he pitched in a game — an inning last night for AAA — to recall him. He arrived today and got a lot of ribbing. “Catch the ball!” Joba yelled, just as Albaladejo finished chatting with some reporters. Albaladejo laughed. “They were giving me a hard time in AAA,” he said. “I’d rather they give me a hard time here.”
Phil Hughes: In his locker here are two souvenirs from Baltimore, a Nick Markakis bobblehead and an Adam Jones figure. Hughes is collecting with a purpose. “I don’t want just regular stuff,” he said. “These are funny. Markakis is making a sliding catch, and Jones is jumping and blowing a bubble.” He’s right. The Orioles apparently know how to do give-away nights.
Joe Girardi: Joe’s wife, Kim, and Kid Styles of Bedford Hills are hosting an event on Saturday, Sept. 12 at the Stadium to support awareness of stomach cancer. Blue hair extensions will be sold at two booths as will raffle tickets to win one of four items signed by the manager. All proceeds go to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer of Northwestern University. Joe’s sister-in-law was diagnosed with stomach cancer, and he says she’s doing well. He also says he’ll be wearing a blue extension that day.
Jim Leyland: His Tigers have a five-game lead over the Twins. But Leyland objected to the suggestion today that his team is in the “driver’s seat.”
“I don’t like comments like that,” he said. “There’s no reason for them. Our players should feel good about themselves and what they’ve done, but there’s no need to talk. Just go out there and keep doing it.”
Strange to see Alex in a polo shirt and pants in the clubhouse, as all of his teammates scurried about in uniform, preparing for BP. Alex won’t start tonight or tomorrow because he is fatigued or, as he said, “running on empty.”
It’s mind-boggling that Alex had played in all 38 games, just three as DH, since returning May 8. And that pace has taken a toll, or so it seems. He is 8 for 55 in June, in an 0-for-15 skid and hitting .212 with nine home runs and 26 RBI. (In 2007, the MVP season Alex repeatedly has said he wants to copy in terms of his approach to the game, he had 26 RBI and 10 home runs after just 14 games.)
Alex suggested that yesterday’s marathon, which included a five-and-a-half-hour rain delay, played into his reaching the tipping point in terms of fatigue. “Yesterday was an absolute nightmare for me,” he said, describing a nearly 13-hour workday that began with 9 a.m. work with Kevin Long.
Oddly, Alex said he told Girardi on Thursday night that he needed a break. But, he was in the original lineup today, until he met with Girardi and was joined via phone by Cashman. Then it was determined that Alex will miss two days. The Yankees also have a day off Monday. It’ll be interesting to see what effect this respite has when Alex returns.
Angel Berroa: He just crushed a double, his first hit since April 28. We’ll leave the jokes to Abraham.
Nick Swisher: We asked him how he spent the rain delay. For a long time he worked on the collage in his locker. (Yes, he said we may photograph it and show it to you — but not until it is a finished product.) Then he ate. (The YES booth was a food orgy. Disgusting.) Then he watched some TV. Then he slept — in uniform in case the rain suddenly ceased. It was a long day.
Derek Jeter: Should he be running on that gimpy left ankle? He’d say yes, of course.
Paul O’Neill: He’s back from Paris where, he says, “they don’t eat.” You can imagine how he felt about that. Well, he just sent Matthew — not Matt — to the Edy’s concession stand for ice cream. Two vanilla cups. One for him. One for me. He is so nice! We didn’t even want the ice cream. But you just don’t say no to ice cream from Paul O’Neill.
Dolphin Stadium: It has been renamed Land Shark Stadium. But every piece of permanent signage still reads Dolphin Stadium. Anyway, it looks like rain (again), but they’re playing Meatloaf over the P.A. We love Meatloaf. He was at a game a couple of years ago in Toronto (we think) and we became a public embarrassment swooning over him. It wasn’t restraining-order stuff, but it was a little much.
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.
ONeill just said that all he needs to do a game is a credential and a bowl of ice cream. Which is not exactly true. Because he just ate dinner. (And, yes, it was late and he wasn’t happy about it, but he didn’t break utensils or anything.)
So O’Neill had a seafood salad, a slab of salmon and a pizza. A large pizza, but he shares. (Thanks, Paul.) And he just brought back two pints of ice cream, including a Turkey Hill NYY flavor, Pinstripe Brownie Blast. He’s also having vanilla bean.
Flaherty packed his own dinner — probably something unbelievably healthy — and Kay had grilled chicken, a burger (no bun) and watermelon. And he just ate the cheese off a piece of pizza.
Hey, I’m just reporting what I see.
Talked for a while today with the guys who are on the DL but are around — Bruney, Ransom and Nady. Bruney played catch from 60-75 feet, didn’t throw hard and made about 35 throws. It’s the first time he’s thrown since the elbow injury. It’s a step in the right direction.
Nady said he should be able to swing a bat in a week-and-a-half. I asked his level of frustration on a scale of one to 10. He said nine. But he said for him to say 10, he’d be really, really bad –“like jumping out of my skin.”
Ransom said he originally felt discomfort in his quad sometime in March. He described it as “a knot” but figured he could play through it. “I’m stubborn,” he said. Ransom later learned through the MRI that it was actually a series of small tears. Those tears converged, if you will, last Friday night in Boston when he slid and became a larger, though not complete, tear.
Ransom is on the 60-day DL, so he has time to rehab, but he did take some swings in the cage for the first time today. He said he’s feeling better but is really frustrated by the injury “because I haven’t been injured since I hurt my back in 1999 and by the way I played. It wasn’t the results I wanted.”
They’re all good guys, and I told them that the readers of my blog wish them well. They seemed to appreciate that. Or maybe they were just humoring me. No, I think they appreciated it.
On second thought, maybe someone else should have held the umbrella for me during pregame.
It’ll be interesting to watch Pettitte if/when a runner reaches third base tonight. He got SO tired of hearing about that Ellsbury steal of home. He and Eiland talked about it, and Eiland was clear that the steal was 100 percent Pettitte’s fault. He also said it should — and would — never happen again. I mentioned Figgins. Eiland said Pettitte “better be” paying close attention if he reaches third.
“Andy told me he peeked at the runner,” meaning Ellsbury, Eiland said. “You cannot peek. You have to make eye contact. You have to make that runner realize that you know what he’s thinking.”
Or, with Abreu on third, Pettitte could pick off Hunter at first. That works.
A final post from Motown.
Congrats to Girardi for win No.100 as Yankees manager. Loved how he said he wished he could have gotten it in one season.
Swisher was off the chain in postgame. Taking a page from Damon, he did the interview shirtless. And was a riot. He says he plays the game like a glorified game of whiffle ball. Maybe that’s why he always seems to be having a great time. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when you have a killer on-base percentage and a couple of jacks from either side of the plate.
Joba and Hughes could be very, very good for each other in this rotation. Joba identifies so well with the veteran pitchers, but it just seems like he and Hughes could be a great tandem — and could push each other at times — for years and years to come.
This is a first: I am blogging from the team charter.
So is this: Phil Coke just walked by and said, “I haven’t had a fire drill since high school.” Everyone is very happy. (Coke gave permission to blog that.)
And this: After saying he would contribute to this little endeavor of ours, Bruney has asked to chime in. Here is what he wrote:
“A promise is a promise, so here I am following through on that promise. My recovery is going well. I hope to play catch on Friday and should be back pitching within a week and a half if all goes as planned. I hope everyone enjoys the blog, I know Kim works hard at it. I will keep in touch!” (That rocks! And, yes, Bruney himself typed those words.)
And, finally, this: Our live chat, 6:45 p.m. tomorrow! Talk to you then!
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 🙂
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.
So much for hitters having trouble with shadows. Guess the Burnett-Beckett matchup really was a draw. An 8-8 draw. The only question is whether the first round of the NFL draft ends before this game.
Actually, there are other questions. Stay tuned for postgame.
Glorious day in Boston! Let’s play nine! Emphasis on nine.
The game has started and soon the hitters won’t be able to see a thing because of the shadows. Jeter and Nick Green — separately — were talking about that before the game.
Well, the shadows didn’t bother Swisher, 1-0 Yankees.
Okay, lots of pregame updates. And, since we didn’t have a pregame show, we’ll put it here.
Ransom was placed on the 60-day DL. He has a right quad injury that Girardi said is significantly worse than the quad strains sustained by Jeter and Alex last year. He’ll have tests Monday in New York. Ransom worked so hard, and so long, for this opportunity, that it’s a shame this hasn’t worked out better for him.
Angel Berroa is here and will play third on an everyday basis until Alex returns. It’s a new role for Berroa, who had yet to log a full inning at third in the big leagues before today. Said Girardi: “We like the experience of Berroa” over Ramiro Pena.
Bruney was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained flexor mass in his right elbow. It’s a muscular ailment; Girardi said the MRI indicated Bruney’s ligament is fine. The treatment will include a week of rest before he starts throwing. Girardi figures the whole deal might take “two-to-three weeks, depending on how he reacts.”
The Yankees will miss Bruney. They already do. He will rejoin the Yankees team for the rest of the trip. Girardi said “we’re going to have to mix and match” in the eighth inning for now.
Mark Melancon was called up for the first time and his will be a much-anticipated debut. He’s not scheduled to arrive in Boston until about 5:30 p.m. “He’s a guy we’ll probably try to ease into it a little bit,” Girardi said. To make room for Melancon on the 40-man roster, Humberto Sanchez was released.
Holy smokes! The Jets moved up to take Sanchez!
With Wang on the 15-day DL, David Robertson was recalled. He threw strikes and was effective during the home opener. He was smiling ear-to-ear today, saying he got the call at 12:30 a.m. He and Berroa flew in late this morning from Rochester, where the AAA Scranton/WB Yankees were playing. (Melancon was on a later flight because the decision on Bruney wasn’t made until later.)
Girardi said Wang will continue to pitch in extended spring games while he rehabs his hips with an exercise and strengthening program of undetermined length. And he said it will “probably” be Hughes who makes the start Tuesday against the Tigers. (That means it will be Hughes.) And it might be Hughes for the duration of Wang’s absence. “You don’t call a guy up to make one start,” Girardi said. “(And we hope) he pitches like he has down there” at AAA.
The NFL draft appears to be moving at a nice clip. It’s still kind of strange that it doesn’t start at noon. Is Crabtree slipping?
4-0 Yankees, Burnett looks very good. Neither Beckett nor the shadows are bothering the Yankees. So much for the pitchers’ duel.
See you on the postgame.
Obviously, getting a repeat of yesterday’s weather was too much to ask.
Lots of stuff on a Sunday morning, with Wang a main topic of discussion, Nady actually providing another day of no news, and the Yanks looking to put yesterday’s debacle behind them. And quickly.
That’s why Swisher walked through the clubhouse and ripped the front and back pages off the newspapers. “New day, fellas!” he said. (Swisher’s introduction of the lineup was entertaining yesterday on FOX. And his Q&A in today’s NY Post with Steve Serby is a good one.)
As for Wang, he doesn’t look like himself on or off the mound. And, at this point, how can it not translate? If his confidence is shot, he’ll need strong results to rebuild it. And he seems a long way from anything close to a good outing.
Girardi believes it started as a mechanical flaw that has evolved into a mental crisis of confidence. Not good. Eiland says it’s Wang who has to work himself out of it, and he strongly believes that he will. “He’s still Chien-Ming Wang,” Eiland says.
Bruney has an interesting perspective, since he sustained two months earlier the same injury as Wang last year. Bruney believes Wang’s troubles stem from not yet trusting his right (push-off) foot. Bruney says he was doing the same thing during his rehab, and his velocity was down and his stuff was off. He worked his way through it — and has been great out of the pen — which is what he says Wang has to do. You’ve got to wonder if that was easier to do in the midst of an offseason or spring, as opposed to during the regular season when you’ve already been shelled thrice.
Not much of a food update. Here’s the deal: On the road, most of us eat around the same time, between pregame and the game. At home, all bets are off. Kenny and Kay probably ate in the press dining room. O’Neill just had pizza and ice cream, which is quite a sight, considering it does not impact his 32-inch waist.
As for me, I had a pretzel that could have chipped glass, so most of it wound up in the garbage can. And some fruit and yogurt.
Okay, O’Neill just stood up (between innings) and said, “I’ve had it! I’ve tried everything else, I’m having a burger!”
He returned smiling because the press dining room lady told him, “Man, you’re eating a lot today!”