Guess who paid a visit to the Yankees clubhouse before the game? George M. Steinbrenner III. He then moved upstairs to a suite where he is watching the game – believed to be the first time he’s seen the Yankees play in person since the season opener.
Mr. Steinbrenner visited in the manager’s office for about 45 minutes during and after batting practice. Players came in to shake hands and visit with him.
Michael Kay says Mr. Steinbrenner kiddingly asked Matsui why he doesn’t speak English yet. Matsui answered in English, saying he uses interpreter Roger Kahlon only for the media. Surely, everyone in the room got a kick out of that.
C.C. and CC: Nice job by Crawford and Sabathia today in answering questions, giving advice and offering batting and pitching tips to 300 kids from local Boys and Girls Clubs. Both also signed lots of autographs. CC signs with his right-handed, interestingly. Then again, Joba signs with his left.
Alfredo Aceves: He has a fatigued pitching shoulder, which is why he’s been on the mound for just one-third of an inning over the past eight days. For the past three days, he received treatment. He says he woke up this morning feeling “great.” Then he threw 20 fastballs off the mound before batting practice and said he felt “great.” Girardi says he’d be inclined to think about using Aceves tomorrow in Chicago.
Shelley Duncan: Assuming the bullpen is refreshed, the Yankees could add a right-handed bat for the White Sox series, when they’ll see lefty starters on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If they stay in-house, Duncan is a possibility. Girardi said if they do go the call-up route, it wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent move; it could be something that simply makes sense for, say, a four-game series.
Joba Chamberlain: He looks so much better when gets the ball and throws it. No more shaking off Posada 100 times. It seems to work nicely.
Marissa of Central Jersey: She’s 15 and she’s a blog reader and she presented us with a box of Mike & Ike’s today at the Trop. Thank you, Marissa! Maybe we’ll save them for Chicago and share with Leiter. Maybe.
Our feature on Polly Tompkins ran today during pregame and Polly texted to make sure we knew she appreciated it. Sometimes, that’s all that matters. This is one of those times.
Polly is such an inspiration, an example of how to stay positive — and keep smiling — when faced with extreme adversity. In her case, it’s the return of cancer. And we wish her well as she continues to fight and, hopefully, continues to get good news.
Brett Gardner: The Yankees will miss the instant offense and speed on the basepaths he provides, not to mention that he’s hit over .300 since mid-May. Gardner will be in a cast for two weeks and re-evaluated. He won’t be available for the series in Tampa, which starts tomorrow, or the upcoming one against Boston, beginning Aug. 6 at the Stadium. He’s the player in pinstripes who plays most like a Ray.
Rickey Henderson: The man who once said, “I’m a walking record” will make a speech that could be one for the ages at the Hall of Fame. We’ll have to catch the (many?) highlights.
Paul O’Neill: His kids are here today, so there are three pizzas in the booth. Or what’s left of them. “Another slice and some ice cream and I’ll be set,” Paul just said between innings.
Alfredo Aceves: He joined media relations czar Jason Zillo on “Batting Practice Today presented by Audi” to talk about HOPE Week. Ace made a big impact, playing guitar for the Camp Sundown children and young adults late Thursday night. He had as much fun as they did.
CC and CC: Still have to read the Sports Illustrated article on Carl Crawford. That’s on the to-do list during the flight. On Wednesday in Tampa, Crawford will be joined by CC Sabathia for an hour before the game for “Catching up with Carl Crawford,” an event to encourage more African-American youth to play baseball. They’ll tell stories to the kids. We’ll try to listen in.
Adam Jones: The Orioles center fielder is one of the best young players in the game. He also happens to share his name with the NFL cornerback nicknamed Pacman by his grandmother. Pacman Jones has had a hard time staying out of trouble, to put it charitably. Adam Jones, an All-Star, cleans his own cleats in the clubhouse. Where are we going here? Last night, while a sports wrap-up show was providing background noise, we heard an anchorman who thought he was very, very clever link the two, yelling “Pacman!” while some Orioles highlights played. That’s nice. And just wrong on a couple of different levels.
Meanwhile, Adam Jones the Oriole can’t stand being called Pacman. Can you blame him?
You guys are funny. We had a camera malfunction yesterday and couldn’t do a postgame interview on the field because of it. I was explaining that to Zillo. That’s it. Hopefully, the camera works today.
Enjoy the fireworks!
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.
It’s been a while, huh? How are you on this Memorial Day?
Last homestand was a eventful one, wasn’t it? Four walk-offs, five pies in faces, two My9 games, a FOX telecast, a broken-bat home run and eight wins in 10 games.
Now we’re on the road and a day game is kinda nice today. A barbecue would be nicer, but we’re not complaining.
Bad news – actually, continuing bad news – for Bruney, who is back on the DL because his elbow just won’t cooperate. The MRIs have come back clean; Bruney suspects they’re missing something. He also says he’s disappointed and frustrated and has to figure out what’s going on. He said Sunday “it just felt wrong” while he was playing catch. That’s not good. And this is a guy who wants to pitch. So the bullpen will have to continue to weather the storm without its supposed 8th-inning guys, Bruney and Marte.
Alex is 2-for-2 and it looks like he’s getting into the swing of it, literally. They’ve always booed him here in Texas. The admission that he took performance-enhancing drugs while a Ranger doesn’t seem to be resonating with this crowd. They booed him more heartily in previous stops here. Plus, there are a lot of Yankees fans in the stands today.
Hughes did a great job getting out of the second. A grittier Hughes is a good sign.
Nady is scheduled to play in a simulated game of some sort in Tampa tomorrow. He’ll hit only. Posada, Molina and Ransom are also in Tampa; they’re not ready for any game action yet.
It’s hot here in Texas. They tell us we’ve arrived just in time for the muggy weather. And there are plenty of little bugs around. Terrific!
We’re digging the red hats for a one-day holiday thing. Hope you’re having yourselves a nice day.
We had no idea Mike and Ikes were so popular! Can’t wait to tell Leiter.
So Rogers Communications is the parent company of the Blue Jays. Hence, Rogers Centre. And Rogers Communications specializes in wireless services. So, isn’t it ironic that Rogers Centre is the one ballpark where the wireless internet isn’t reliable?
Talked to Bruney before the game. Saw him after it. In between, he shaved his head. Completely. He’s got a very white dome.
It’s a great night for the Yankees when Gardner, Pena and Cervelli are coming up with big hits and RBIs. Cervelli has adjusted pretty quickly and surpassed even his own expectations so far. He could be a very nice story.
During postgame, I called Kenny “Michael” and Girardi seemed to refer to Halladay as “A.J. Burnett.” We’re a wacky group. And it’s only May 13.
Coke said after the game that his back was starting to feel better. He said he went into a crouch just before stretch on Tuesday and felt his back lock up. (What is it with stretch? Posada said he initially felt his hamstring pull during stretch on that Sunday night in Boston.) Coke has been getting treatment and isn’t sure if he’ll be available tomorrow. In fact, he sounded like he doubted he would be. But he said it shouldn’t be too much longer. At least he hopes not.
Girardi says a 4-2 road trip would be an accomplishment, given the injury situation. The Yankees have that chance tomorrow with CC on the mound.
So we’re set with questions for O’Neill. We’ll ask him to answer a handful at a time and transcribe them over the Minnesota series, which begins Friday.
Here’s why you have to love Leiter in the booth: In front of him as we write this is a Red Bull and a huge box of Mike and Ikes. Both are open. Mike and Ikes rock!
Dinner was turkey, veggies, salad. They had brownies for dessert. There used to be a sign at the dessert table, saying “one per person.” We always got a kick out of that. The sign isn’t there today. Plenty of Diet Coke is on hand, but they lock the refrigerator in, like, the sixth inning. So some of us resort to putting an unopened beverage or two in our bag. Don’t tell.
Jeter (oblique), Matsui (hamstring) and Coke (back) aren’t available tonight. Matsui could pinch hit but would require a pinch runner. Girardi thinks the Yankees will get over this injury hump and have a mostly healthy season thereafter. Girardi is also an optimist by any measure. It’s hard to imagine a team of mostly thirtysomethings magically finding a universal cure. Especially in today’s game.
There is some good news, with Bruney expected to return next week. He threw a bullpen today and will again Friday. And with Wang definitely making progress, as evidenced by last night’s AAA outing. He’ll have at least one more minor league start.
Both clubhouses were still buzzing today about Halladay last night. The guy is a machine. Bruney says it’s like he has a video game controller in his pocket and can dial up any pitch at any time. Joba says Halladay could win 30 games in the NL. It’s significant when players marvel about other players, because it just doesn’t happen all that often.
You know, these Yankees are a curious group. The upcoming homestand seems like a very important one, with Minnesota, Baltimore and Philly coming to town. More on that later, after we crystallize our thoughts.
Hello there. Today has been kind of crazy, as you would expect. Alex seems relaxed, as his first at-bat would suggest. First pitch? You’ve GOT to be kidding! He also looks thinner, tanner and happier than you might remember.
He says he’s refocused, which would be a great sign of personal growth. And we choose to believe him. He also says this “absolutely” represents a new chapter for him. (He must have read this blog yesterday.)
Anyway, he’s back and that’s a good thing. The circus was in full throttle today and hopefully will go away by tomorrow. That would be a very good thing.
Lots of news. Honestly, can’t repeat everything here; hopefully you saw the pregame. One addition: Cervelli is a very confident guy. He might find a way to make this work. (We say that with virtually no knowledge of his actual ability behind the plate, but Posada did give him an endorsement.)
Our most interesting conversation was with Mariano. That is often the case. He still has allergies, which he’s had since March. Or February. (We mention this incidentally; he says he’s allergic to yours truly, but that is totally, 100 percent impossible.)
Mariano says he is fine: “I believe and I know that I will continue to get better” in terms of velocity and arm strength following shoulder surgery after last season. He says that will happen naturally, by pitching.
Nothing about last night, Mariano says, “felt out of the ordinary” — except the two home runs, of course. Mariano shrugs, he credits Crawford for a good at-bat and says (like a ton of pitchers will say at some point this season) that Longoria can hit even the slightest mistake a long way.
Mariano seemed to be as good as ever in early-to-mid April when he didn’t allow a run in his first seven innings. His numbers turned with that 31-pitch, Jason Bay-polluted outing on April 24 in Boston. Since then, he’s allowed five earned runs and four HRs in 4 1/3 innings. But he says nothing changed before or during that Friday night game against the Red Sox. And he insists his shoulder feels better now than it has at any point this season.
His treatment on his shoulder is routine, the same as always, he says. When we spoke at about 4 p.m. or so he said he hadn’t even had any treatment yet. He was relaxing at his locker. If something were truly wrong, you’d think he would have been in the training room.
Just trying to be logical here.
Mariano also says — with a smile — that Yankees fans are “spoiled” — imagine that — and that as soon as he has a bad stretch, they wonder if he’s hurt or if he’s losing it.
He’s not losing it, he says. “At the end of the season, we’ll see numbers as great as they always are.”
More good news: It’s Crab Cake Night in the press dining room. The limit is one. We secured two. Much like elementary school, it pays to be nice to the cafeteria ladies. Kay has an enormous plate of grapes (and strawberries) in front of him. Much like a Roman emperor.
A final post from Motown.
Congrats to Girardi for win No.100 as Yankees manager. Loved how he said he wished he could have gotten it in one season.
Swisher was off the chain in postgame. Taking a page from Damon, he did the interview shirtless. And was a riot. He says he plays the game like a glorified game of whiffle ball. Maybe that’s why he always seems to be having a great time. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when you have a killer on-base percentage and a couple of jacks from either side of the plate.
Joba and Hughes could be very, very good for each other in this rotation. Joba identifies so well with the veteran pitchers, but it just seems like he and Hughes could be a great tandem — and could push each other at times — for years and years to come.
This is a first: I am blogging from the team charter.
So is this: Phil Coke just walked by and said, “I haven’t had a fire drill since high school.” Everyone is very happy. (Coke gave permission to blog that.)
And this: After saying he would contribute to this little endeavor of ours, Bruney has asked to chime in. Here is what he wrote:
“A promise is a promise, so here I am following through on that promise. My recovery is going well. I hope to play catch on Friday and should be back pitching within a week and a half if all goes as planned. I hope everyone enjoys the blog, I know Kim works hard at it. I will keep in touch!” (That rocks! And, yes, Bruney himself typed those words.)
And, finally, this: Our live chat, 6:45 p.m. tomorrow! Talk to you then!
Minutes before the pregame, a Yankees fan probably in his 40s walked down the steps of Comerica Park and stood almost directly in front of me. Wearing a full Yankees uniform. Stirrups and all.
Hysterical. And curious. Very curious.
Stating the obvious: The Yankees have no time to lick wounds from their beating in Boston. They haven’t had much sleep, either. They got to their hotel between 3:30 and 4 a.m., depending on whom you ask. At least C.C. flew ahead. So he didn’t have to watch that carnage firsthand and should have gotten a solid eight hours of shuteye.
It’s a warm, pleasant evening in Detroit but Jeter claims there are showers in the forecast. I told him he was being negative.
Mark Melancon is an impressive young pitcher and seems to have it together, based on the two-minute pregame interview we did. Girardi loved how he went directly after hitters, even with the bases loaded; if he continues to do that, Melancon will be here for a while. Girardi also was highly impressed that Melancon coaxed “Mikey Lowell” into a weak groundball with the force at home. Whenever a pitcher limits the damage from Lowell, it impresses Girardi. He loves Mikey Lowell.
Jim Leyland is a truly an original. During his pregame session with reporters in his office, he asked if anyone else wanted a cigarette. No takers, some amusement. Later, before ending the session, he asked “if any of you closet smokers” want a cigarette. No takers, more amusement.
Damon says his left shoulder is barking, which isn’t great news on April 27. He also says he might have to play the rest of his career with a barking shoulder.