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.
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 ðŸ™‚
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.
Wow! The live chat gets a billboard! So exciting. I can’t wait to tell Jim Leyland I’m doing a live chat.
Hello from a gray, drizzly Wednesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. Kay is eating fries. Leiter, Kenny and Kay ate in the press dining room. No food update for me yet. Bring back the Food Network buffet!
Had a chance to sit and talk with Wang, who is flying to Tampa this afternoon and will pitch in an extended spring game tomorrow. (The plan is for him to rejoin the Yankees Friday in Boston.) He knows he has work to do. He says his confidence remains intact. He is aware of his mechanical flaws, which result in his arm dragging behind his body. (He said the same thing after his bullpen last week in Tampa and then Saturday’s outing was a disaster.) He says he is not pushing off on his right foot with enough intensity but insists the foot feels fine. He doesn’t believe this is a mental byproduct from him being injured; I suspect that could be debated.
Perhaps, he was compensating for the foot at some point during rehab and has to relearn some balance-related movements as a result. That happens with injuries to those of us who are not pro athletes; common sense would dictate that athletes aren’t immune, either. That’s the hypothesis of the amateur physical therapist in me.
Wang is relatively upbeat. He appreciates the support of his teammates. A.J., he says, is always joking with him. That’s a good thing. As I mentioned last week, A.J. also uses a translation feature on his phone to e-mail Wang in Chinese. Wang thinks that’s pretty cool.
Wang and his wife are expecting their first child in June. For several reasons, it would be preferable if his pitching issues were behind him by then.
Oh, good, instant replay. Fellas, let’s try to beat 8½ minutes, okay?
Also chatted with Robinson Cano today. Here’s the deal with the media that has to be frustrating for some players: We would be ALL OVER Cano if he were starting slowly. He’s not. Coming into today, he’s batting .377 to lead the Yankees, has a team-high 20 hits, a respectable eight RBI and three HRs. So, we basically ignore him, myself included. Cano laughs this stuff off but did say he’ll do any interview with us anytime. So, we’ll get him on a Batting Practice Today show soon.
Funny line from Giambi to Gardner after the centerfielder’s great catch Tuesday: “Man, didn’t you see that ovation I got (from the fans)? You’ve got to let that drop.”
That delay was much, much shorter than eight minutes. Nice.
I will never do a weather forecast again. I will never do a weather forecast again. I will never …
So, today’s pregame show was going along swimmingly, plenty of sunshine and fun times with Bob. I happened to mention the clear skies and emphasized HOW WRONG the “ominous forecast” was. Oops!
As soon as I finish my little report, I turn around. Tarp still on the field. Uh-oh. Black clouds rolling in. Shoot. Rain. Serious rain. Oh, no!
Nice job by me.
Luckily, we seem headed for an on-time start. I’ll say no more.
The press dining in Baltimore is one of my faves, especially when they have crab cakes. They usually go one per plate. I always ask for two.
But, today, the main dish was Boog’s Pit Beef sandwich. Ate it like a savage. Unfortunately, dining at the stadium becomes a fact of life when the season starts. Most options don’t measure up to Boog’s. Most, I just skip.
Kay, apparently, doesn’t share my affection for Boog’s. He just returned to the booth with a bacon hamburger and fries. Lots of bacon. I told him that was a bloggable offense.
Elaborate pre-game festivities going on. Teixeira really, really got booed. With venom. He seemed to enjoy it.
By the way, I checked with Cano about his locker situation — that he and Melky, his best friend, are on opposite sides of the clubhouse at Yankee Stadium. I asked if he and Melky were fighting; Robbie laughed.
I asked if they get mad — and stay mad — at each other, like girls do. He smiled, shook his head and said, “No!”
Turns out, it’s just a coincidence. Those were the only lockers open, so they are half a clubhouse apart. Robbie says they’ll live with it.
Mixed reception for Joe Biden on the first-pitch scenario.
See you for the postgame!
So I told Kevin Sullivan, our persistent internet guru, that I will become a blogger when Penn State wins a national championship in basketball.
The Nittany Lions won the NIT on Thursday night — Joe Paterno, Franco Harris and 35 busloads of students turned the Garden into a PSU party — so let the blogging begin!
All right, how exactly do you DO this?
Peter Abraham of the Journal News is the king of this stuff; his lohud.com blog is a completely natural and entertaining extension of his reporting/writing/opining. Neil Best of Newsday is obsessed with the millions of page views Watchdog receives. And Bob Lorenz is funny like he’s always funny.
Where does that leave us? Feeling like a fat guy in a little coat. Or a tad uncomfortable. We’ll get over it.
Thank God it’s baseball season
Which also makes this the perfect time to launch a blog. Really, just perfect. Phil Hughes suggested I take over his blog instead of starting my own. I think he’s lost some enthusiasm for blogging. I also think he’s still 22 years old and probably has a lot of other things to do.
Oh, yeah, the new Stadium
Were you there? We did the whole shebang, pregame, game and postgame Friday night. It felt oddly like the last night at the old Yankee Stadium. But different. If that makes sense.
It seemed fitting that Derek Jeter got the first Yankees’ hit. Perhaps it’s telling that Robinson Cano cracked the first home run. Arguably, it’s an omen that the Hideki Matsui and Cody Ransom homers each hit a foul pole. At the least, it was definitely illustrative that Nick Swisher inserted himself into a Johnny Damon postgame interview. And it was revealing that CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett knew they wouldn’t throw a pitch but stuck around until the last rainy out.
The clubhouse is oval-shaped. The starting rotation is together – Joba likes hanging with the veterans. I found it kind of interesting that best buddies Cano and Melky Cabrera are across the room from each other; I’ll have to ask Robbie about that. Jonathan Albaladejo and Swisher are on either side of the main entrance; Swisher is louder. Jeter and Jorge Posada are at the opposite end of the room, on either side of a hallway that presumably leads to the training room, shower area, coaches’ rooms and other as-yet-unknown destinations. The clubhouse is spacious, has impressive amenities (mounted laptop computers, electrical outlets and shelves for personal items/photos at each locker) and is very clean. AAA would give it five stars.
Just heard on TV
A nitwit who shall go unnamed saying Tom Coughlin has to “win over” the locker room after the Giants’ release of Plaxico Burress. Same guy then says something about Jerry Reese having to prove himself as a GM who can replace the wide receiver.
Ugh. That clichéd nonsense gave us a headache, which means it’s time to end this blog. Not the whole blog. Just, you know, say good-bye. For now.
How DO you end blog posts, anyway?