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.
Hey there! Still looking for Tino but as one of you mentioned in the comments, maybe it’s even better to catch up with him after the draft and get his thoughts on the players the Yankees select.
Phil blogged down: In March, when we originally told Hughes that we were joining him in the blogosphere, he responded: “You can have my blog.” So, yes, he knows he’s neglecting it. We’ll check with him again.
Mo tied up: In answer to a couple of you — yes, the numbers indicate that Mariano isn’t the same in tie games, but he’s always said his approach is no different than save situations and that he feels no different in tie games. We’ll check in with him again on that, maybe tomorrow, but we’re guessing he’ll stick with those responses.
Bruney back soon? Bruney threw his bullpen today – 15 fastballs, sat for four minutes, 15 more fastballs – and said he felt great, as good as ever. Girardi wanted to see him throw changeups; Bruney said next time. He’s probably no more than 10 days away if everything goes well.
Omelet Sunday: They serve made-to-order omelets in the press dining room on days like this. And they even have egg whites. Awesome! Kay had bacon and fruit, probably a burger, and definitely ice cream. A swirl, no toppings. The ice cream is going to be very difficult to resist all season, which is going to be a problem. For us for sure, maybe for Kay.
Swish-a-licious: Glad some of you enjoyed the Swisher interview. He’s a hoot. We did the interview – or “Innerview” – while Girardi was meeting the media at the other end of the dugout. When we finished the interview, we looked over and Girardi and the reporters were staring at us, laughing. Guess we were a bit loud. Or, more accurately, Swisher was a bit loud. His energy is contagious!
Just to let you know: We are planning to interview Longoria tomorrow for “Batting Practice Today presented by Audi.” If he’s still out of the lineup, we might have to go to Plan B. And Jeter has committed to doing Tuesday’s Interview from Boston. That night, we have the BP show, pregame and postgame on YES, with the game on My9.
Has anyone in the history of blogging been more neglectful? We have to fix that!
Since we last worked a full day at the stadium – May 24 – a lot has changed. Well, one thing has changed, but it’s big. They added a soft-serve ice cream machine to the press dining room. Sources say O’Neill really enjoyed it; he went with the chocolate-vanilla swirl, no toppings. Every day.
Paging Tino Martinez: Okay, so this is the series where we plan to ask Tino your questions. Your questions are great. But we can’t find Tino! He’s expected here Tuesday for the draft; hopefully he’ll come in a day or two early. If not, we’ll get your answers the next time we see him.
Hughes in the pen: Hughes says he’s ready to do whatever the Yankees ask, and he’s available out of the pen from now until the foreseeable future. If Wang is right for a couple of starts, Hughes could return to AAA as a starter, to keep his arm strength so he’s ready should the Yankees need a starter at some point.
Courage for Life: You might remember an Innerview we did late last June with John Challis, an 18-year-old from the Pittsburgh area who died of cancer Aug. 19. He remains an inspiration through the foundation he started not long before he died. Courage for Life Foundation grants wishes of high school athletes who have life-threatening illnesses; for more info check the Web site.
John’s parents and sister, Lexie, were here today. Girardi greeted them, as did Alex; Mr. Challis still marvels at the flower arrangement Alex sent to the funeral home. And Joe Maddon has a T-shirt that bears one of his slogans, the proceeds from which go to John’s foundation.
A short story: Alex called John a couple of weeks before his death and they chatted for a bit. Then John said, “Well, I have to go. One of my friends just got here.” Mr. Challis laughed in relaying those words. (How many teenagers cut short a call from Alex Rodriguez?) “That was John,” he said. “He treated everybody the same.”
Hitting the Mark: Girardi, on Teixeira, who had an awful April and a marvelous May, which is continuing into June: “His demeanor’s been the same the whole way throughout. That’s one of the things that’s impressed me.”
Bruney ball: Bruney will throw another bullpen tomorrow, one that will simulate a two-inning stint. He will throw 15 pitches, sit down and throw 15 more. After Bruney and the Yankees gauge how he feels Monday, they will know his next step. For now, both parties are taking a cautious approach. Bruney, on the DL for the second time with a strained flexor mass in his right elbow, won’t commit to a timeframe for his return. “I tried that the last time and probably rushed myself,” he says. “I’m just going to go whenever (I’m ready).”
Price is right: Rays teammate James Shields says of David Price, “He definitely has ‘it.’ He has that good arrogance that I think all baseball players have to have to succeed.” Price’s pregame demeanor on the day he pitches is somewhat like CC’s. Both lefties will say hello to reporters, chat with teammates and generally appear to remain pretty relaxed.
REX! Jets coach Rex Ryan is here today. We called him “intimidating” on the pregame. He’s actually very friendly and easy to talk to. We probably should have described him as “not easily intimidated.” Whatever. The important thing is, Rex has committed to appearing on “This Week in Football” this fall on YES. Which puts him ahead of the Mangini pace already.
Pass the popcorn: We were lucky enough to be invited by the Giants to their practice facility Thursday for a screening of “The Taking of Pelham 123,” due in theaters June 12. (Giants co-owner Steve Tisch is producer.) It rocks! Denzel and Travolta are terrific. So is the new facility. The Giants did a really nice job with it; it’s bigger on the inside than it appears from the outside. And it definitely trumps that practice bubble they’ve been using for years. (John Mara appreciated that assessment when we shared it with him.)
The theater where the movie was shown will be used for film study. There are no cup holders attached to the seats. And the movie started five minutes early. No kidding.
The weight room is as enormous as you would expect. Rumor has it, coach Tom Coughlin is doing personal two-a-days. His first workout ends by 6 a.m. and he goes back for another in the afternoon.
Good news for Giants fans: Brandon Jacobs was the first player we saw and he appears leaner than ever. He says he’s lost eight pounds. He looks like he could play a game today. And run over a bunch of people. The Giants are delighted with him.
Speaking of food…: Following Kay’s lead, we ate a burger today but, unlike him, we added a bun and tomato. Kay also had bacon, grapes and watermelon. Something tells me soft-serve ice cream is in the near future.
Still paging Tino Martinez. Please pick up the white courtesy phone.
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.