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.”
The players reported at 11:30 today. A.J. was there long before then, doing some housekeeping around his locker. Among his objectives: To dispose of the cleats he wore Thursday.
“They’re the last things to go that I wore during that start,” he said.
We didn’t ask for specifics. What about the glove, wondered Dave Eiland.
“The glove stays,” A.J. said. “It’s not the glove’s fault.”
A.J.’s a veteran, a pro, a pie-thrower. He takes losses hard. Especially, it seems, losses that come down to one pitch on a day when he had nasty stuff from the moment he left the bullpen.
He pitches again Tuesday in Baltimore. A.J.’s lost his last three starts. His combined numbers: 19 innings pitched, 17 hits, 15 earned runs, seven walks, 23 strikeouts. He knows he has to do better than that; he is (much) better than that. And, in case you’re wondering, it’s a safe assumption that he would prefer to throw more than 105 pitches next time out.
Phil Hughes: He might spend more time in the clubhouse while the media are present than any other player. He looked on with amusement as A.J. tidied his locker. Hughes is one content guy these days. We spoke with Mike Harkey for tomorrow’s Innerview for “Batting Practice Today presented by Audi” and he marvels at the way Hughes has adjusted to the bullpen. And Harkey believes Hughes’ easygoing demeanor has played a large role in his splendid transition.
Michael Kay: He’s gone hog wild back into Atkins. His culinary choices today included bacon, a burger, caffeine-free diet soda and decaffeinated hot tea. That’s a rough go, if you ask us. Leiter had the commuter breakfast — muffin and coffee; he wasn’t hungry. And you just can’t beat the oatmeal in the Yankee Stadium press dining room. With brown sugar. Oh, a pizza just arrived in the booth. Leiter is partaking. Kay is eating only the cheese.
Jim Thome: He was today’s Innerview for “Batting Practice Today presented by Audi.” What a nice guy. He’s putting his 10 nieces and nephews through college. He and Reggie have a great relationship; he surpassed Reggie on the all-time home run list Aug. 15. At 564 homers, he said he can’t help but think about 600 sometimes. And he said when you play for Ozzie, you know you’re going to have fun. As for the toughest pitcher he ever faced, Thome laughed and said, “CC last night!”
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.
Between the long weekend series and some radio work on WFAN, trying to find a second wind as a blogger…
Phil Hughes and Ricky Romero: They trained together in the offseason at Athletes Performance Institute in L.A. Given the way the two have pitched this season, Hughes laughed when he said, “API has probably gotten some good publicity” out of it. Hughes hopes to go back over the winter. Carl Crawford and a bunch of NFL players also have worked out at API.
A.J. Burnett: He’s back on the mound amid a slightly different atmosphere than his last outing. After Monday’s game, A.J. said he finally could change his jeans. He wore the same pair every day during the seven-game winning streak.
Joba Chamberlain: Asked him today if he believes his bout with shoulder tendinitis last August has influenced the Yankees into being ultra-careful with his innings limit this season. He said no. He attributes it solely to the studies done that show young pitchers can be negatively affected by significantly exceeding the previous year’s production. “That’s for smart people to worry about,” he said. “I just go out and pitch.” As for the postseason, Joe Girardi says “all hands on deck,” meaning there will be no innings limitation on anyone. Joba anticipates his role being “as a starter. I don’t plan on going back to the bullpen.” Then he softly added, “Hopefully.”
Derek Jeter: Hit by a pitch on his right foot during his first at-bat. It looked like he was in pain, even if he won’t admit it.
Chad Gaudin: He’ll start Saturday or Sunday, with Sergio Mitre getting the other start. He says he’s extremely happy to be here; his locker is next to Mariano Rivera’s. As for his last name, it’s Go-DAN. “No pause between (syllables),” he said. Got it.
Rob Thomson: The third-base coach offered no excuses for sending Mark Teixeira in the first last night. “Bad send,” he told Kay and me, adding that he didn’t realize – obviously – that the relay throw had reached the second baseman, Aaron Hill, just as Teixeira was touching third. Thomson also said Teixeira did the right thing in giving himself up to be tagged out. “We didn’t want to get anyone hurt,” he said. Thomson wondered throughout the game if that run would come back to bite the Yankees. It didn’t. Of course, Thomson’s aggressiveness at third has helped the Yankees far more often than it’s hurt this season. We never seem to talk about that.
Paul O’Neill: He says he’s not scheduled to do another series until Boston comes to town Sept. 25. The pizza orders for the booth will be greatly diminished in the meantime. It’s amazing how much pizza, ice cream and pancakes he consumes. Even Leiter is amazed. And by the way, O’Neill golfed yesterday at Winged Foot — “awesome,” he says — and remains particularly proud of his eagle on 16 and birdie on 9. Paul’s buddy, Stone Phillips, won the match with a birdie on 18.
Jeter: An inning later, he’s out of the game and Ramiro Pena’s in. Jeter will undergo X-rays. Updates on postgame, for sure.
Let’s just say Sergio Mitre hasn’t exactly instilled confidence as a fifth starter. In three innings, he gave up seven hits, five earned runs, faced seven full counts. And threw 75 pitches.
What a coincidence that Mitre started, and departed early, on the day of the trade deadline. You have to wonder if the Yankees ultimately will regret not addressing their pitching depth before 4 p.m. today.
Or what they’ll do when Joba closes in on his innings limit — a number even he claims not to know — in six starts or so and they preemptively move him to the bullpen.
Or if, perhaps, Phil Hughes is being stretched out before our very eyes. Three of his six appearances in the second half have been for two innings. In three, he has thrown at least 35 pitches. With Aceves recently suffering from shoulder fatigue, Hughes might be the better option of the two should the Yankees need a starter.
For now, the Yankees will hope they don’t need a starter. Mitre’s next scheduled turn, by the way, is the series opener against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
Shelley Duncan: He’s absolutely delighted to be here, having become resigned to spending the entire season at AAA. “I can’t tell you how happy I am,” he said between hugs from Joba and Hughes. The Yankees have another roster move to make tomorrow, however, and Girardi talked during pregame about the versatility he would gain by utilizing Ransom and Hairston. You’ve got to think the roster move will be between Duncan and Ransom.
Roy Halladay: It will be interesting to see how he reacts to not being dealt. The Yankees will be the first to find out; he pitches Tuesday against Joba at Rogers Centre. J.P. Ricciardi overplayed his hand, never actually intended to trade his ace — unless the offer was completely ridiculous — or recently got assurance from inside the Blue Jays organization that he didn’t have to make the trade. Or something else. No matter what, the situation played out very publicly — probably to a point where it disrupted the routine-obsessed Halladay.
Ozzie Guillen: He was giddy while talking to Jeter before the game. Now he’s wearing a sweatshirt as he walks to the mound. A sweatshirt. Like Belichick, except Ozzie’s doesn’t look like it was at the bottom of the laundry basket.
Michael Bolton: He’s here. Love him! “Soul Provider” is a great song. CVS sells his greatest hits for $8.99 or something like that. A tremendous bargain.
Derek Jeter says he still gets goosebumps during player introductions for the All-Star Game. That’s cool.
So is this: The second half of the season is officially underway in the Bronx.
Sergio Mitre: He’ll make the start Tuesday. Aceves is too valuable in the bullpen and will stay there. You definitely get the feeling the No. 5 spot in the rotation might be Sergio’s for a while.
Chien-Ming Wang: He’s scheduled to play catch Sunday or Monday, Girardi said. This might be a lost season for Wang, who’s logged just 42 innings in nine starts and 12 appearances this season.
Joba Chamberlain: He said his four-day break spent in Nebraska was perfectly relaxing. When he asked about ours, we told him we spend 20 hours (on WFAN’s midday show with Adam the Bull) talking about him. Joba shook his head and laughed.
Phil Hughes: Girardi says he’s comfortable with the rotation and believes Pettitte and Joba each will have a big second half. He said he’d become concerned about the rotation if the Yankees were to lose CC or AJ to injury. (Uh, yeah, you’d think so.) Anyway, it would only be under such a dire scenario that Hughes would return to the rotation this sea son. At least that’s how things stand today. Hughes owns an ERA of 0.98 in 13 relief outings.
Mike Mussina: He’ll be here for Old Timer’s Day. Wow, an old timer. We’ll have ask Mussina how that sounds.
Al Leiter: He brought Mike and Ikes to the booth! And Twizzlers. Nice.
Tino Martinez: Hey, maybe he’ll be here for Old Timer’s Day! We’ll corner him with your (very old) questions.
In three hours, the Yankees will disperse in many directions, with most coaches and players going to their offseason homes and three Yankees heading to St. Louis. There are a bunch of people hoping to not do a whole lot over the next four days. A four-day All-Star break is big. We’ll be on WFAN from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. this week with Adam the Bull. Yes, we’ll try to blog a bit during the week. And, no, Twitter won’t be happening anytime soon.
Phil Hughes: We can’t help you with posting the Innerview. Really, we just don’t know how. But, Internet Guru Kevin Sullivan reads this blog. Hopefully, we’ll get back to posting those Innerviews here for those of you who, for some reason, miss our “Batting Practice Today presented by Audi.”
Bobby Abreu: He seems to enjoy playing against the Yankees, huh? But not as much as Howie Kendrick, who mystified the Angels with his awful start to the season but has hit the Yankees. Of course.
Chone Figgins: He’ll be a free agent after the season. It would be interesting to see how the free market assesses his value. He’s just perfect for the Angels.
Joba Chamberlain: Had a nice pre-game chat at his locker. His frame of mind is good. He truly believes he’ll have a strong second half. (Then again, what’s he going to say?) He figures a few quiet days at home in Nebraska will do him good.
Eric Hinske: He’s fitting in quite nicely. After he was acquired in a trade, a bunch of Yankees, perhaps chiefly Damon, were absolutely certain he’d make a strong contribution. Two starts — and three home runs — in, they seem to be correct. It’ll be interesting if Girardi can keep all of his outfielders happy — Hinske makes five for three spots — if all of them continue to play well.
Sergio Mitre: His eight scoreless innings for AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre have to make him the odds-on favorite to start against the Orioles a week from Tuesday. He struck out five and walked none and, unlike Aceves, starting Mitre won’t tax the bullpen for days. Or shouldn’t.
Mark Teixeira: Overheard at his locker today, a reporter asking Teixeira, “When did you know you could bring the thunder?” Teixeira’s response: “What does that mean?” The reporter, who isn’t a regular on the Yankees beat: “Swing the bat.” Teixeira then answered.
The All-Star break is coming at a good time. We’ll look forward to mixing in some Q&As with players and coaches in the second half. This initial run with the blog has been fun, if a bit of a work in progress. As always, thanks for reading.
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.
Looking for Tino is like trying to find Waldo. We’ve given up. For now.
Hughes responds: Because you wanted an update, we asked Hughes about his blog. His sheepish response: “It’s on standby.” Tomko, who overheard our conversation, offered this to his teammate: “You’ve got to start Twittin’ or something!” Hughes laughed.
What about the pits? At one point late in the Sunday game, after we’d blogged, Kay was eating a bowl full of cherries, which he said were provided by Mia from the suites. Kay with a bowl full of cherries was amusing.
Bronx Bombers Sundae: Kay and (to a lesser extent) Cone are digging into pints of Turkey Hill ice cream as we write this. When Cone’s talking, Kay’s eating by the spoonful. For dinner, Kay and some others in our crew ordered out from Yolanda’s; he had chicken parmesan. Cone’s dinner: four cups of coffee (so far) and a piece of chocolate.
The press dining room featured awesome roast beef and mashed potatoes. Sadly, we pigged out. Audrey the Stage Manager is disappointed. “There weren’t mashed potatoes when I was in there,” she said. Sometimes, all we talk about it food.
Swish and chips: The Swisher “Innerview” has been added to the blog. That’s a good job by internet guru Kevin Sullivan, who will be delighted that Kay and Cone just discussed this blog on the broadcast. Sullivan loves when that happens. So, thanks guys!
Ray of light: The Rays don’t exactly have a long and storied history, but it’s worth noting that Longoria is trying to become the first Ray to be selected by fans to the All-Star Game and to start in the game. (Jose Canseco was voted in by fans in 1999 as DH but didn’t play in the game because of back surgery.) By last week’s count, Longoria was third in the overall voting, behind Pujols and Utley and just ahead of Jeter. New vote totals should be announced tomorrow.
We’re going to catch up with Longoria during the next Yankees-Rays series (in seven weeks) for an “Innerview.” Upton pinch hit today because Longoria was having pregame treatment on his hamstring. And Upton showed up 10 minutes early for the spot. That’s a great job by him.
Boston bound: A quick road trip awaits. Should be a fascinating three games in Boston, beginning with Burnett-Beckett. Let’s hope the forecasted rain doesn’t screw it up. The Yankees are looking for their first win against the Sox this season, but this is a different Yankees team than the one Boston last saw. A reminder, Jeter is joining us tomorrow on “Batting Practice Today presented by Audi.”