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.
There is nothing like a 53-degree, misty, foggy evening on June 9 in Boston, is there? Really, it’s a shock that they’re even playing this game, given the weather forecast.
Imagine that, the weather folks were wrong. At least about the intensity of the rain.
Tomko, who is from San Diego, sat in the dugout for a while during the pre-game rain and said he loves days like this. Go figure.
Extra heat: Hughes’ velocity reached 95 last night in a perfectly executed inning of relief. The adrenaline is different coming in as a reliever — Mariano and Coke agreed on that point — and it helped that Hughes was working on seven days rest.
Pettitte said Hughes’ fastball had movement similar to Mariano’s. Hughes smiled when told that and said, “It’s good to have anything compared to him.”
Hughes’ attitude and approach have been tremendous since he was removed from the rotation and his veteran teammates have noticed.
The Yankees will have a decision to make soon on Hughes. He is their sixth starter, and they have no one in Triple A they would want to make a start should they need a spot starter, or a starter for any duration.
Therefore, they need Hughes to be available in a pinch as a starter. If he continues to impress out of the pen, that becomes a tougher decision. Obviously.
What about Wang? And that makes Wang’s start tomorrow night very important and pretty darn intriguing, given the competition. Wang told us before the game he believes he is ready for the Red Sox and that his last outing was a confidence-builder; he was in fine form through 50 or so pitches.
Wang and his wife are expected their first child any day. He said he’s excited but also nervous. You get the feeling Wang has had a lot on his mind in recent weeks.
New York vs. Boston: The Yankees have surpassed the Red Sox in one ultra-important area this season — the quality of press dining. The Yankees really stepped it up in the new stadium, adding a bunch of culinary options on a nightly basis, unbelievable desserts (which, thankfully, do not tempt us) and now the soft-serve ice cream (which does).
Boston always offers pizza and soup, so it continues to trump the Yankees in those areas. And has Red Sox logos on its dinner plates and napkins. The Yankees go with plastic plates and plain brown napkins.
Anyway, in a strange coincidence, the Boston press dining room featured roast beef, mashed potatoes and broccoli tonight, just as the Yankees press dining room did last night. Maybe the Red Sox are now scouting opposing dining rooms.
So, the guys ate dinner in the dining room while we were fulfilling post-game responsibilities from the dugout.
Or at least two of them did.
“Popcorn and coffee,” Flaherty said, when asked his dinner selections. “I didn’t get invited to dinner.”
“I had prime rib and broccoli,” Kay said. “And a slice of pizza. And I ate the crust! And two cups of hot tea.”
(He loves when we write about him.)
“Prime rib and broccoli,” Kenny reported. “But, I added mashed potatoes.”
By the way, Kenny is the one who usually is in the gym by 7 a.m. He can eat what he wants.
Kay kash: Speaking of the gym, we saw Kay there around 11:30 this morning. (The gym, which is adjacent to the hotel, costs $15 per day. It’s unclear whether that is a reimbursable expense at the YES Network.) He was finishing up on the stationary bike. After his workout and presumably a shower, Kay got his hair cut in the salon next to the gym: $50 cut, $20 tip. He must’ve really, uh, liked his hairdresser.
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.