Last night, Jerry Hairston Jr. conducted a clinic on how to handle the aftermath of committing a devastating error. First, he stopped the first reporter he saw — WFAN’s Sweeny Murti — and told him, “I know you guys want to talk to me. I’m going to get something to eat and I’ll be right back.”
Then, when he emerged, Hairston literally invited the media to his locker with a wave. And he answered every single question.
“He knows you have to be accountable,” Derek Jeter said. “Everyone makes mistakes. That’s one reason it’s so hard to throw a perfect game.”
Pettitte also reassured Hairston, joking that he didn’t want to throw nine innings anyway. Posada said everyone felt bad for “J-Hair.”
“Jerry’s been outstanding,” Jeter said. “He’s playing everywhere, the infield, the outfield, and he’s catching between innings. I don’t think people appreciate how difficult that is.”
Speaking of Jeter, he is the Yankees nominee for the 2009 Roberto Clemente Award, which annually recognizes the player who performs exceptionally on the field and contributes in the community.
Johnny Damon: Told Damon today that I could not say “calf cramp” on yesterday’s pregame. He laughed. Much more significantly, Damon paid a “very rewarding” visit to Walter Reed Army Hospital today, part of his ongoing commitment to the Wounded Warrior Project. Swisher, Robertson and Coke went along. Johnny was particularly touched by a young quadriplegic he has seen on several visits. “I see the progress he’s making,” Johnny said. “And he has a great spirit, a great sense of life. Definitely, he’s an inspiration.”
Alex Rodriguez: He’s back at third tonight and this morning, Alex spoke to 500 student-athletes at Millford Mill Academy in Baltimore County about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs. According to a news release, Alex opened his remarks: “As a kid, my favorite player was Cal Ripken, Jr. Has anyone here heard of him?”
The man knew his audience. Alex went on to say he made a mistake and “one of my missions in life is to turn a negative into a positive.” He called his admission of steroid use “pretty darn liberating.”
The call-ups: Francisco Cervelli, Ramiro Pena, Mark Melancon, Edwar Ramirez and lefty Mike Dunn. As you would imagine, they were smiling a lot in the clubhouse.
Adam Jones: The young Oriole center fielder hates to lose, which will be important as he becomes a leader on a Baltimore team that is trying to rise from the ashes. And Jones wasn’t thrilled last night to see Yankees fans taking over Camden Yards. “We’re not at the new Yankee Stadium,” Jones said. “I expect more of our fans to be here, but I understand completely why they’re not. But it (stinks) that they’re not.”
Jim Thome: Had a chance to interview him for Saturday’s “Batting Practice Today presented by Audi” when the White Sox were in town. No wonder he’s considered one of the friendliest players in the game. Anyway, today on WFAN, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti was interviewed by Adam the Bull and Jon Heyman. Colletti said Thome wanted to make sure he was upfront in telling the Dodgers he did not think he could play first base for them. No matter. The Dodgers want his bat and his leadership, which could pay off big.
The Yankees and White Sox are under way after a 64-minute rain delay. A rain delay. Go figure.
In other news that cannot possibly qualify as surprising, two more stars in the game have been exposed, having shown up positive for performance-enhancing drugs on the 2003 list, the one with 104 names. The one that was supposed to be confidential. Manny and Big Papi join A-Rod. Nearly six months later.
The leaky faucet that is baseball’s steroids past continues to drip.
The most telling part of today was the reaction – weary, subdued reaction – from Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira in the clubhouse. Damon said the news surprised him – really, how could it have? – but couldn’t have said anything else about his former teammates. Damon later joked that perhaps he will turn out to be the biggest idiot of them all for never noticing, never suspecting.
Damon and Teixeira – and on the other side of the field, Ozzie Guillen – said the list of the 104 should be made public in a once-and-for-all attempt to deal with and then move past the hovering dark cloud. That the guilty were once promised confidentiality no longer seems to sway the weary. They’ve had it.
Those who compromised the confidentiality – and, make no mistake, they are a different brand of guilty — ultimately may win.
“I guess,” Damon said, shrugging, “you really can’t trust what anybody says nowadays.”
And maybe you simply can’t trust an entire era even though a bewildered Jeter again felt compelled to offer this reminder: “Everybody wasn’t doing it.” Upon today’s news, try to convince anyone that steroid use wasn’t pervasive in the 2003 Red Sox clubhouse.
“That’s probably what is being said,” Damon said, “and that’s what makes guys like me upset.”
Teixeira suggested that kids look to himself, Matt Holliday and Chase Utley as players who’ve put up numbers since 2003 and “have done it the right way.”
Or how about young players like Evan Longoria, Adam Jones, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and the Upton brothers, who weren’t even in the game back then?
Or how about the ones – perhaps not as numerous as we’d hope – who came out of the steroid era clean, who are able to look themselves squarely in the mirror?
After talking to the media, Jeter went to the batting cage to stow his bat in the Yankees dugout. As he did, a few kids wanted autographs, which he signed. An older gentleman at the edge of the dugout simply asked to shake his hand. “I admire,” he told Jeter, “the way you’ve always played the game.”
Jeter shook his hand. And said thanks.
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.
A terrific pregame story today involved Yankees “honorary bat girl” Polly Tompkins. She is here as part of the MLB/Susan G. Komen for Cure effort to recognize baseball fans who are battling cancer.
Polly was very popular before the game. She’s a lifelong Yankees fan and met many players, including her crush, Jeter, after he took BP.
She leaned in toward the end of their chat and asked him for his phone number. (Love the spunk!) Jeter was smiling ear-to-ear and said, “I’ll get in trouble here. Maybe later.” (That means no, but he was very nice.)
During BP, Alex and Swisher went with Polly into the stands to greet the 100 or so friends and family members who made a four-hour bus trip from Candor, N.Y. That was absolutely incredible. We’ve never seen anything like it, two stars walking through the stands with the pink do-ragged Polly, going to greet her cheering contingent, most of whom were wearing pink T-shirts.
Reggie talked to Polly for a while, as did Damon and Mariano. (When Mariano walked toward her, Polly’s eyes got wide as baseballs. So cute.)
And just before the game, Polly was in the dugout, hanging with A.J. and Swisher. Which meant she was having a blast. She said she couldn’t believe “that I’m sitting here watching Nick Swisher stretch before a game!” Said A.J.: “All you need now is a pie in the face.”
Polly laughed, heartily. Then she threw out the ceremonial first pitch, caught by Swisher. Swisher’s grandmother died of brain cancer a few years ago. He’s always great in these spots. And Jason Zillo and Jason Latimer of the Yankees media relations department did a terrific job in making Polly’s day so special.
Polly Tompkins is a 38-year-old first-grade teacher who was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. She thought she beat it. The cancer came back last month, and she learned it had advanced to Stage 4. She usually spends Wednesdays receiving chemotherapy. This was a much better Wednesday.
We wish Polly the absolute best and hope today strengthened her spirit. She promised to update us regularly on her condition. She may call anytime. And we’ll pass on any message to Jeter.
Oops! Didn’t mean to forget Joba! Turns out he also went into the stands to meet Polly’s people. He hugged her mom. He told me after the game it was an awesome experience, something he believes players SHOULD do. And he does plan to stay in touch with Polly. Nice work, Joba.
And very cool of Swisher to give Polly the lineup card after the game. She was so psyched on the field. Just a terrific, terrific night.
In response to a couple of comments, I’ve not been fined by the Kangaroo Court. I think I’m out of that jurisdiction.
Saw Posada in the dugout, but not to talk to. His take on Cervelli would be interesting. There’s something about that kid.
What else did you ask me? I can’t remember. Short game tonight! Woo-hoo!
It’s My9 again tomorrow, strangely, but we’ll try to check in.
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!
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.
And by “eagle,” I refer to the most, uh, interesting rental car I’ve ever had the privilege of driving. The kind of vehicle you’d see at Spanky’s Used Car Lot. The air vents didn’t vent. And there was a bit of an odor.
I drove to Baltimore so I could stop along the way and visit my 3½-year-old niece (Little A) and 21-month-old nephew (Big A). My sister and brother-in-law were there, too, which was nice.
So the jalopy and I were a block from the hotel when I saw a cluster of people on the corner. About eight or 10 of them looked like they haven’t worked out in a while – and by “a while” I mean “ever” – and were holding Yankees memorabilia. One was signing. The one was Johnny Damon, who appeared to be by himself. It was, like, 10 p.m. Nice guy, that Johnny Damon.
As I parked, I smiled for two reasons: The idea of valeting the Maybad and the anticipation of blogging. I promise to post more often as soon as I learn how to do so. Same with answering your comments.
In mere hours, we’ll actually have baseball to talk about! Hours! Let’s hope weather isn’t an issue. Torrential rains are in the forecast. But there is hope. The local TV weather guy just said that if it’s your “trash day” tomorrow you might have some trouble with your garbage bins in the morning because of thunderstorms – seriously – but the bad stuff should clear in time for the game.
Let’s hope so.