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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Pregame notes: Busy day in Tampa

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Jul 31, 2010 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

A lot going on today, and obviously I have a lot to write, so for now we’ll try to hit on a little bit of everything

Yankees Rays BaseballLance Berkman
Could not possibly have been more engaging during his first Yankees interview. His favorite player growing up was Don Mattingly, and his father’s favorite player was Mickey Mantle. That’s why Berkman’s dad taught him to switch hit. He called Andy Pettitte one of his closest friends, and said the Astros used to kid with Pettitte all the time that it was obvious he wanted to get back to New York.

“I told (general manager) Ed Wade,” Berkman said, “when he was in the process of trading away Brad Lidge, Chris Burke, Chad Qualls and Dan Wheeler (in 2007), guys we had won with that were really good friends of mine, I told him, ‘Trade me – and I want to go to the Yankees.’ That’s what I told him then, and as events happened this year and the Astros looked like they were going to go in another direction, we reviewed a list of teams I would accept a trade to and obviously this one was at the very top.”

• It does not sound likely, but Joe Girardi said he could play Berkman in the outfield if necessary.
• Berkman isn’t necessarily locked into the No. 2 spot in the order. “We’ll just have to look at that as time goes on,” Girardi said.
• Berkman’s split against left-handed pitchers are not good. “He’s guy that we don’t necessarily need to play every day,” Girardi said.

Austin Kearns
Seems very quiet, but like he said last night in Toronto, Kearns also seems excited to play whatever role is presented to him. “It’s the best chance you have to win, obviously, coming here,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about. I’m happy to be a part of it.”

• Kearns is seen primarily as a left fielder.
• “He’s going to play against a lot of left-handers,” Girardi said. “And he’ll probably play against some right handers, as well.”
• Brian Cashman said he started this process specifically looking for a right-handed hitter who can play the outfield. The Yankees love what Thames has done, but want to keep him out of the field.

Kerry Wood
“Kerry still has terrific stuff,” Cashman said. “We analyzed his abilities with what we currently possessed and we felt we would be upgrading if we were able to acquire him. Where he’s actually going to fit in, Joe Girardi does a tremendous job of figuring out who slots in where best. Joe will get a feel for all his personnel as we move forward here for the stretch drive and eventually we’ll slot these guys out with the way they perform.”

• Wood is trying to get here from Toronto, but Girardi said the flights might not work out to get him here in time for tomorrow’s game.
• As Cashman said in the quote above, the Yankees see Wood as another option for the late innings, not necessarily an immediate eighth-inning guy.
• “Joba had nothing to do with this,” Cashman said. “I just wanted Joe to have as many options as he could possibly have.”
• Girardi played with Wood in Chicago. “I don’t know if it makes me feel younger, or if it’s just me being old now,” Girardi said. “It is (weird) because there is a relationship there. I know his family. My wife knows his wife. There is a relationship there. It’s kind of neat.”

Various notes
• Having Berkman and Kearns, Girardi said, makes it more likely some guys will get full days off instead of DH days. That seems especially true for Jorge Posada. “He’s battling his knee problem a little bit,” Girardi said. “Maybe this will help him where he doesn’t feel it. There might be days where I decide to DH Jorge.”

• Cashman on the utility infield market: “We looked into it, but we obviously pushed for what we thought we could push for. What we felt was something that wouldn’t fit our criteria, we either weren’t excited enough about or we were weren’t able to meet the prices that were presented to us.”

• Kearns has known CC Sabathia since they were in high school: “Me and him were at a showcase when we were 18,” Kearns said. “I got to see him hit in the home run derby. I used to always tell guys in Cincinnati, when we’d play Cleveland in interleague, don’t just throw cookies up there because the big fella can swing the bat.”

• Chan Ho Park said he was sad to be leaving, and there were a lot of hugs in the clubhouse. Whatever the outside perception, the Yankees seemed to always like the guy. “If this is done for my career, I think it was the best decision I had in the offseason to play for the Yankees,” Park said. “I’m happy to have a good experience with the Yankees before I finished with them.”

• These moves don’t necessarily make it more likely that Girardi will use his bench during games. “I think you have to be careful there,” he said. “We’re not going to pinch hit a lot, probably not going to pinch run a lot. The guys that are in there probably going to play most of the game.”

Associated Press photo of Berkman

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