When Ramiro Pena was sent down to AAA, he was smiling and happy, a young guy who knew he needed to play every day, believed he had played well and hopes he’ll return to the majors Sept. 1.
Today, it was slightly different with Francisco Cervelli. Yes, he knows he performed better than anyone anticipated with Posada and then Molina going on the DL at the beginning of May. Yes, he is happy with the way he played and contributed and caught veteran pitchers who rave about him. And yes, he knows how great a defensive catcher Molina is and he respects that.
Yet there was sadness with Cervelli, who said he didn’t think we could possibly understand how much the past two months have meant to him. “The most important time in my life,” he said. “You don’t know how much I enjoyed every day here.”
Over the past two months, his parents visited New York for the first time and loved it. They were in town during the Subway Series at Citifield. Cervelli introduced them to everyone he could on the team bus.
He marveled at catching Mariano. “You could catch him in your sleep,” he said, closing his eyes and shaking his head. “The best.”
And he appreciated so much the relationship he developed with CC and A.J. “CC was always great,” Cervelli said. “I love that guy. It gave me confidence to know the confidence he had in me.”
Said CC, “He did an unbelievable job. I hate to see him go.”
Added Cervelli: “A.J. was great, too. When I watched A.J. (before being called up), I would say, ‘Let me catch him.’ He has such nasty stuff. He makes hitters look so bad.”
Cervelli will take a flight back East tomorrow morning. He knew the time was coming when he would be sent down, as soon as Molina was ready. “I might cry a little in my hotel room, and I don’t cry often,” he said, sitting in front of his locker during a long pregame chat. “But my mom always told me to have fun in whatever I do. So I’ll go to AAA and have fun. I’ll be back. I know I’ll be back. And I’ll bring Pena with me.”
Laura Posada: Jorge’s wife is featured in a TV show that debuts tonight – “True Hollywood Story: Baseball Wives” at 10 p.m. on E!. She is thrilled. “They followed me for a week!” she told us. We asked Jorge if he was excited. “Uh, yeah,” he said with a smile. “But not as excited as she is.” Set your DVRs.
Jose Molina: It seems like an awfully long time since he went on the DL May 8. Particularly for Molina. “It’s awesome to put on the uniform and be back on the field again,” he said. “It took a lot of hard work, but it’s great to be back.” He’ll catch one of the games this weekend, against the Angels, his former team.
Joe Nathan: The Twins closer is an All-Star again and looks forward to picking Mariano’s brain at the midsummer classic. They have mutual respect. As many pitchers do, Nathan will ask about the cutter. “I hear it’s hard to teach,” Nathan said. “The repetition probably just comes so naturally for him.” But Nathan will ask. “At the same time, I don’t want to have so many pitches that it messes me up,” Nathan said with a laugh. “I have four or five as it is, which is enough.”
Nathan is one of the closers in the game respected by Mariano. He likes the way Nathan goes about doing his job, with superior results and without showmanship.
Alfredo Aceves: He’s tomorrow starter and he’s excited about it. “How many pitches did I throw Sunday?” he asked. Forty-three. “How many did Joe say I could throw tomorrow?” Sixty to 65. “I should be able to throw more than that,” he said. Really, it’s no wonder Girardi loves the guy.
Mealtime at the Metrodome: Following Cone’s lead, we had Maui Wowis for dinner. Think smoothie, with a little umbrella. Cone went with raspberry, Kenny strawberry and we had mango. What a diverse group! We’re all eating popcorn; they have movie theater-caliber popcorn here. Sadly.
Then there’s Stage Manager Teresa, who is peddling a bag of carrots. No takers, besides herself, so far. Watching Cone decline her offer of a carrot was amusing for some reason. Then again, Cone is often amusing, even when he doesn’t say a word.
What a beautiful night! Clear skies (so far) and an on-time start. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Our last chat prior to the All-Star break will be 12:45 p.m. Monday, just before the Yankees conclude their four-game set with the Blue Jays. All day games. Hope you can make it.
As far as the last chat goes — we got a lot of repetitive questions. So we answered them. In the future, if we don’t have enough of a variety of queries, we’ll end the chat so as not to offend with repetition. And we enjoy answering some lighter questions. Apologies to those of you bothered by them.
Hughes was the guest for our Innerview for “Batting Practice Today presented by Audi” and was asked your questions. He seemed to have fun with it. Thanks for the questions you submitted. As far as Tino goes, we haven’t seen him. We’ll keep your questions until we do.
Paul O’Neill: He had quite a meeting in the visiting clubhouse manager’s office yesterday. He was talking with Yogi when Ichiro walked in. Then Griffey Jr. joined the conversation. What a quartet. What did they talk about? “Ichiro wanted an autograph from Yogi, which was cool because he appreciates the history of the game,” Paul said. “Then Ichiro and I talked for about five minutes.” They discussed the game and their mutually preferred sneakers, Asics. As for Griffey, he just wanted to say hello. “A really nice guy,” O’Neill said.
Eric Hinske: He’s here, wearing No. 14 and says he’s “excited and honored” to be a Yankee. He said he talked to the Yankees during the offseason about signing but thought he would have a better chance to play in Pittsburgh. When he wasn’t getting at-bats with the Pirates, Hinske credited GM Neal Huntington for trading him. Hinske considers himself an “AL East journeyman,” having played for the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Rays. He says he’s ready for whatever role the Yankees ask of him — outfield, infield, third base, first base, whatever.
Ramiro Pena: He handled being optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as well as a youngster can. He smiled, said he was happy and knows he needs to play every day. The Yankees want him to play some outfield, and he’ll start in center then move to the corners. He envisions playing two days a week in the outfield and the others at second base and shortstop. He’s never played outfield before, having only shagged some balls in recent BP in case the Yankees needed him in a pinch. Pena is popular with veterans; they’ll see him again in September, if not before.
Michael Kay: So, on his radio show today, Kay felt the need to announce (truthfully) that we — the two of us — are not dating and never have dated. Uh, thanks, Michael. But what in the world prompted this? Seems his radio show receives text questions from listeners and four of them – four! – asked about some rumor that we were a couple. So Michael cleared it up for all to hear. And now he’s very, very proud of himself.
Woody Freiman: The YES exec (VP, Production and Programming) bought dinner tonight — Lobel’s steak sandwiches. They were very popular among the announcers. Thank you, Woody! Full disclosure: There are still two pizzas in the booth and assorted pasta dishes that have gone unclaimed.