Check out the below chat for Kimberly Jones’ thoughts on the Red Sox closing the gap in the A.L. East, Jorge’s suspension, 2010 Yankees schedule and more.
<a href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php?option=com_mobile&task=viewaltcast&altcast_code=d25a52c318″ >Kimberly Jones chat</a>
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.
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.
John Sterling just walked into the YES booth, looked at the gray skies and said, “It rains every day here.”
Then he left. Really, there wasn’t much more to say.
Reminder: Our last chat before the All-Star break is 12:45 p.m. Monday, the last day of a four-game series with the Blue Jays. We’ll answer questions as long as they’re not overly repetitive.
The Weather Girls: “It’s Raining Men” is playing over the P.A. It’s also on our iPod. Gametime is now 7:40.
Polly Tompkins: Remember her? She was the Yankees’ Honorary Bat Girl on May 20, in a partnership with Susan G. Komen for Cure that recognized baseball fans battling cancer. She’s here again today, got big hugs from Alex and Swisher and sat down for an interview with us. The feature will be a good one and will air sometime after the All-Star break. We’ll let you know.
Jorge Posada: He took a foul tip off his left thumb last night and it’s sore, so Cervelli is catching CC. Girardi hopes Posada is ok to catch Burnett in tomorrow’s day game.
Jack Nicholson: After our pregame spot, we walked back through the tunnel on our way to the press box. And there’s Jack Nicholson, just hanging out, talking to one of the suite chefs. Now he’s in a slightly more prominent spot – a seat behind home plate. And he’s playing to the scoreboard camera.
Michael Kay: He’s not happy with some of your comments about him. (He’s a very dedicated reader of this blog.) Can’t we all get along and be nice and be the one blog in the world where people aren’t unnecessarily nasty to each other? Please?
Ken Griffey Jr.: It’s hard not to root for him, isn’t it? And, by the way, he always seems to be smiling.
The visiting clubhouse in Cleveland is kind of like a mini arcade. There’s the Big Game Hunter Pro, aka the Kyle Farnsworth Game. Farnsworth never looked more comfortable than when he was playing that game. And rather scary with the play rifle in his hand. Ramiro Pena appears to have developed quite a fondness for the Farnsworth game. “I love it,” he said, while shooting.
There’s a Nintendo game — an original — and a Cornhole bean bag game, which A.J. and Tomko played in the tunnel leading to the dugout. About an hour in, both were sweating.
Gardner and Bruney regularly do battle on a Tiger Woods video game. The winner gets custody of a Tiger figurine. Today, while sitting at his locker, Gardner painted the figurine green, then hid it from Bruney and swore a couple of us to secrecy. (The green paint on his fingertips might have been a giveaway.) After that, Gardner borrowed Joba’s laser and pointed the little red light at unsuspecting teammates.
Meanwhile, Bruney and CC — tonight’s starter — were playing a Nintendo baseball game on the big screen. (CC might have had more trouble with that game than he is with the Indians.)
And in Posada’s locker sat a framed back page of Newsday from May 17, 2006, when Teixeira — then a Ranger — barreled over Posada at home plate. Teixeira signed the paper, “To Jorge: Thanks for your forgiveness. Now we are best friends! Mark Teixeira”
The first-place Yankees are a fun bunch.
Another save by Mo: Last night, we walked with Mariano from the clubhouse to the team bus. We had to go through the Indians family room and up a flight of stairs. At the base of the steps, a young Cleveland player and his wife were struggling with their baby’s stroller. The player was holding their sleepy daughter and the wife couldn’t manage to lift the stroller on the steps. So Mariano did what a lot of people wouldn’t have — he carried the stroller up the stairs. You should have seen the looks on the faces of the Indians player and his wife. They were completely in awe. Mariano and the couple exchanged some words in Spanish and then he got on the bus.
Aces wild: Had a nice pregame chat with Aceves, who likes to show off a nasty cut on the base of the big toe on the bottom of his right foot. It’s gross. He says it’s not the slightest bit painful. Anyway, he loves his role, even thought it is not defined in any way. He says he wants to pitch every day, doesn’t care if he pitches three innings (as he did last night) or the eighth inning (Girardi likes Aceves’ versatility too much to limit him to one inning on a regular basis) or comes in as a long man (as he did when Joba was hit and left in the first inning against the O’s) or as a starter. He just wants to pitch and he doesn’t complain. He also says his shoulder feels better than ever and is amazed that he has no soreness whatsoever. Then he showed us the toe, so the conversation ended.
Swish-talk: Swisher reports that his dad, who is here, likes his Swish-hawk haircut and his stepmother absolutely loves it. “It’s so easy,” he said. “Just run some water through it, a little gel and it’s done.” He was also delighted when we passed along the message from Polly Tompkins. Delighted!
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.
Hello there. Today has been kind of crazy, as you would expect. Alex seems relaxed, as his first at-bat would suggest. First pitch? You’ve GOT to be kidding! He also looks thinner, tanner and happier than you might remember.
He says he’s refocused, which would be a great sign of personal growth. And we choose to believe him. He also says this “absolutely” represents a new chapter for him. (He must have read this blog yesterday.)
Anyway, he’s back and that’s a good thing. The circus was in full throttle today and hopefully will go away by tomorrow. That would be a very good thing.
Lots of news. Honestly, can’t repeat everything here; hopefully you saw the pregame. One addition: Cervelli is a very confident guy. He might find a way to make this work. (We say that with virtually no knowledge of his actual ability behind the plate, but Posada did give him an endorsement.)
Our most interesting conversation was with Mariano. That is often the case. He still has allergies, which he’s had since March. Or February. (We mention this incidentally; he says he’s allergic to yours truly, but that is totally, 100 percent impossible.)
Mariano says he is fine: “I believe and I know that I will continue to get better” in terms of velocity and arm strength following shoulder surgery after last season. He says that will happen naturally, by pitching.
Nothing about last night, Mariano says, “felt out of the ordinary” — except the two home runs, of course. Mariano shrugs, he credits Crawford for a good at-bat and says (like a ton of pitchers will say at some point this season) that Longoria can hit even the slightest mistake a long way.
Mariano seemed to be as good as ever in early-to-mid April when he didn’t allow a run in his first seven innings. His numbers turned with that 31-pitch, Jason Bay-polluted outing on April 24 in Boston. Since then, he’s allowed five earned runs and four HRs in 4 1/3 innings. But he says nothing changed before or during that Friday night game against the Red Sox. And he insists his shoulder feels better now than it has at any point this season.
His treatment on his shoulder is routine, the same as always, he says. When we spoke at about 4 p.m. or so he said he hadn’t even had any treatment yet. He was relaxing at his locker. If something were truly wrong, you’d think he would have been in the training room.
Just trying to be logical here.
Mariano also says — with a smile — that Yankees fans are “spoiled” — imagine that — and that as soon as he has a bad stretch, they wonder if he’s hurt or if he’s losing it.
He’s not losing it, he says. “At the end of the season, we’ll see numbers as great as they always are.”
More good news: It’s Crab Cake Night in the press dining room. The limit is one. We secured two. Much like elementary school, it pays to be nice to the cafeteria ladies. Kay has an enormous plate of grapes (and strawberries) in front of him. Much like a Roman emperor.
Not the greatest day ever. Or the greatest start to a game.
It’s impossible to know how Joba felt yesterday knowing his estranged mother was arrested in Nebraska for allegedly selling methamphetamine to an undercover police officer.
And imagine how he felt today, seeing it as front-page news. His mother’s unfortunate — yes, Joba is a public figure. And the First Amendment is a fabric of our being and must be defended in nearly every case, even to the dismay of the Yankees manager. So, maybe this is a misguided mini-rant.
But somehow this seemed dirty, and so unnecessary. And we can’t help but feel bad for Joba.
Joba overcame a lot to get where he is. He’s going to have to keep overcoming. But, given his ugly first inning, and this 4-0 start by the Red Sox, you have to wonder if he didn’t take some family baggage to the mound with him tonight.
Give us a second to get off the soapbox.
And to provide a brief food update: Tried tofu for the first time today in the press dining room and liked it. Not as much as the macadamia nut cookies, unfortunately. Kay is back on Atkins, so his burger consumption is increasing. If that’s possible.
Okay, so the news on Posada could’ve been worse, but definitely could have been better. A Grade 2 strain of the right hamstring will keep him out 2-3 weeks, which is the optimistic timeline. A pessimistic timeline isn’t even worth getting into at the moment.
Posada will be missed, which is like saying water is wet. (I have to thank Kevin Brown for the little verbal nugget. Once, when we were in Anaheim and he was just dreadful, I asked him the genius question of whether he was hoping for a better start. He stared, made a sound like a tired cow and said, “That’s like saying water is wet.” I still laugh every single time I think of that. But we digress.)
If nothing else, 2008 proved Posada’s value to be invaluable. Posada is clearly disappointed and frustrated but is buoyed by the idea that he could be back in 15 days.
So, Alex is returning soon. Must confess: We got a kick out of hearing he fielded a ball to his left, did a pirouette and threw out the runner at first today in Tampa. You KNOW Alex has been dying to do a pirouette!
Anyway, we’ll probably see Alex on Friday or perhaps Saturday. Girardi said any day before May 15 would be okay. They need him even more now, and Alex surely realizes that.
The Yankees have closed to 4-3. Damon always seems to hit those kinds of home runs. Joba’s got to like that.
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.
In what possibly could qualify as a jinx, we mentioned Cano’s 14-game hitting streak to him tonight during our InnerView on Batting Practice Today presented by Audi. He didn’t want to talk about it. Please, baseball gods, let him get a hit in this game.
Cano was very, very impressive — and honest — when we spoke. He has matured, looks at last year as a lesson learned and is grateful to Kevin Long for working with him tirelessly, including in the Dominican during the offseason. (A lot of players love K-Long.) It was Cano who brought up the “lazy” tag – one he hates and knows he has to prove wrong. He’s well on his way.
Ate in the press dining room tonight and had chicken, potatoes and salad. Not bad. Cone’s drinking coffee, and I think Kenny ate with John and Suzyn earlier.
Miguel Cabrera looks like he can hit in his sleep.
The Tigers probably wouldn’t have released Sheffield if they’d somehow foreseen the abdominal injury to Marcus Thames. (Which would have been impossible.) Right after Sheffield got his 500th home run, Leyland called him, and Sheffield returned the call. They still have a good relationship. And the Tigers recently sent a representative to New York to present Sheffield with a crystal trophy recognizing the milestone.
A story in the Detroit News yesterday was so sad: Tinker Bell, a 6-pound Chihuahua, got caught up in 70 mph winds and blew away during storms Saturday. The News reported, “Witnesses last saw the dog airborne…” (Seriously, that’s what it said.)
Well, guess what? Tinker Bell was found! About three-quarters of a mile away from home. She’s back home with her 72-year-old owner. Hooray!
By the way, big start tonight for Hughes, eh? He wasn’t in the clubhouse yesterday, and starters almost never talk on the day of their start, so the media didn’t talk to Phil prior to his outing about the pressure to stop a four-game skid, about any nerves he might be feeling. We think the Yankees liked it that way.
One more thing worth mentioning. I just noticed some comments questioning Posada and his running to first after pinch-hitting last night. We learned today that Posada has a sore hamstring and said he didn’t want to pull it running. He first felt it while stretching — yes, stretching — prior to Sunday night’s game in Boston. Posada isn’t in the lineup tonight. He said he can hit and squat but feels it when he runs. He also said it is “no concern.” You can bet the Yankees will be keeping tabs on it, but Girardi said Posada is available to pinch hit tonight and could catch.