Tagged: Mariano Rivera

First impressions: Alex is thinner, tanner, happier

arod_kim_blog_050809.jpgHello 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.

A great way to spend a Friday

What’s shakin’?

Today feels normal, like a regular game on a beautiful day. What better way to spend Friday?

Lorenz (AKA Ron Burgundy) was feisty this morning during our little pregame conference call. Let’s just say he’s been reading. “You write pretty well — for a chick,” he said.

That’s bloggable!

So is O’Neill, eating ice cream, directly from the pint. Chocolate and vanilla. I’ve never seen that before. He said he doesn’t do it often. Big surprise.

Will he finish the pint?


Oh, just asking. (Sadly, I’ve finished many pints, mostly Ben & Jerry’s “lowfat” yogurt. It probably has twice the calories.)

So far, our guys appear to eat in the press dining room. There’s a buffet of dogs, burgers, chicken, cold cuts, salad stuff, desserts. Someone commented that we eat a lot of the same food. True. It’s mostly ballpark-type stuff. The last day in Tampa, I just couldn’t do it.

I was talking to Dave Robertson, who is a really nice guy, around 10 a.m. when he was told that Dave Eiland wanted to see him. Robertson kind of figured he’d be sent down when Juan Miranda was called up, but he was hoping not. We’ll see him again.

No matter what, I’ll never, ever forget Robertson. (Keep reading…) He and I were walking out of the Rangers’ Ballpark in Arlington to the bus last August 7 when I hit a divot in the cement, and my left ankle caught and twisted like a Coke cap, resulting in the worst sprained ankle in history. Oh, the pain! (Sorry, Benigno.) Robertson asked if I was okay; I lied. We flew to Anaheim that night; I could barely walk. The entire nightmare in short form (kind of): couldn’t work out but tried to, self-pity led to considerable M&M consumption, gained six pounds in the final two months of the season, eventually went to physical therapy, finally ran again in five months. Five months!

Robertson and I never discuss August 7. But I always think of it when I see him.

Mariano Rivera vowed to talk to Jose Veras and Damaso Marte. He’s a great leader in the bullpen and players listen when he talks. As he often does, Rivera will make some constructive points and then it’ll be up to Veras and Marte to implement his suggestions.

Funny pregame moment in the Cleveland dugout: Carl Pavano spoke to the media in advance of his start Sunday. Yes, he noticed the harsh reception from the crowd yesterday. Brian Cashman went over and shook Pavano’s hand and said hello. “Were you one of the ones who was booing?” Pavano asked.

Not a bad line. Cashman laughed.

The clubhouse was quiet this morning. A lot of players seem to like the routine of weekday evening games better, and these first two weeks have included a lot of different starting times. But a Friday night off isn’t a bad deal. And tomorrow, our friends at FOX take over so the YES crew has the day off. That’s a great deal.

Tough break for Nady

nady250_041609.jpgHi there! Unlike this trip, this blog post is going to be short.

Lots going on today. Bad news for Xavier Nady, who is a good guy. His eyes watered as he talked about the initial diagnosis on his right elbow being “not great” and as he said he spent the morning making some difficult calls to family members and friends. He expects a final diagnosis tomorrow, when he will go on the DL, and is worried that he’ll need a second Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He initially had the procedure in September 2001 and said he was ready for the start of A ball the following spring.

This is why you don’t automatically trade an outfielder just because you have one too many.

Interesting approach with Chien-Ming Wang today. He threw his bullpen with Joe Girardi and Dave Eiland among the onlookers. Then he went to the pitcher’s mound and faced live batting practice, with Cody Ransom and Melky Cabrera taking swings. The goal is to have Wang translate his good bullpen sessions to the game, something he clearly hasn’t done through two starts. Wang said the issue has been balance-related, with his legs getting ahead of his arm.

We’ll see how it works Saturday, I guess.

Today’s lunch/dinner update: Kay and Cone ate in the press dining room – somewhat of an upset, to the betting public – as did I, though later. The buffet included meatballs, chicken parm, veggies and stuffed shells. Flaherty skipped ballpark food; he had a sandwich at the hotel.

The Yankees head home after the game and every single person in the traveling party is ecstatic about that. There are a million cowbells here at the Trop – today’s giveaway – so it’ll be a loud sendoff if the Rays get going.

Nice to see everyone wearing No. 42. CC Sabathia said one of the reasons he didn’t fly ahead of the team in anticipation of his start tomorrow is because he wanted to take part in Jackie Robinson Day.

I asked Mariano Rivera about the home opener being tomorrow. His response: “I love it.”