The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Archive for March, 2011

Goose Gossage and Austin Jackson to attend MLB fan event03.31.11

I very nearly deleted this email from Major League Baseball without opening it. The first five words in the subject line were “Jersey Shore’s DJ Pauly D,” and although I have no ill feelings toward Mr. D — I don’t watch the show — I was not especially interested in his connection to baseball. Turns out, the email was about an event taking place in New York City tomorrow, and not only is one of the Jersey Shore guys going to be there, so are Austin Jackson and Goose Gossage. If you’re interested, here’s the information.

WHO:
DJ Pauly D, MTV’s Jersey Shore
Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers Outfielder
Goose Gossage, Baseball Hall of Famer

WHAT:
At the new MLB Fan Cave, 2K Sports will give fans a chance to win one million dollars in the MLB 2K11 Million Dollar Challenge. Fans will have the opportunity as time permits to line up outside the Fan Cave to participate in the competition. Starting at Noon ET across the U.S. on Friday, April 1, the first fan to pitch a verified perfect game while playing MLB 2K11 will win $1 million. Visit http://www.2ksports.com/perfectgame for rules and more information.

DJ Pauly D, Austin Jackson and Goose Gossage also will encourage the players, DJ the event, and play MLB 2K11 in the MLB Fan Cave, which is located at 4th Street and Broadway (they are not eligible to win the $1 million prize). A music station at the MLB Fan Cave featuring a DJ booth will also be available to the guests.

WHEN:
Friday, April 1
12 – 5: Fan Contest
1 – 3: Celebrity and Player Appearances

WHERE:
MLB Fan Cave
4th Street & Broadway

The MLB Fan Cave is a first of its kind immersive fan experience in a vibrant location in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, hosting the winner of the MLB dream job. The winner, Mike O’Hara, will inhabit the Fan Cave every day for the entire 2011 MLB season along with his Wingman, Ryan Wagner, and will watch all 2,430 regular season games plus every Postseason game while chronicling their experiences and sharing their viewpoints on baseball and pop culture through Facebook, Twitter, a blog on MLB.com, custom videos and regular appearances on MLB Network.

The Fan Cave will play host to interactive fan activities; regular visits from MLB players, baseball personalities and celebrities; parties; musical performances; and other events throughout the baseball season. With 32 14-foot windows, O’Hara and Wagner’s every move and all of the events at the MLB Fan Cave will be visible to fans out on the street as well as fans online.

Associated Press photo of Gossage

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 257 Comments →

Postgame notes: Bullpen lives up to expectation03.31.11

When the Yankees decided shifted their offseason focus to the bullpen, it was with games like this in mind. Tied after seven innings, the Yankees were able to role out Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera through the seventh, eighth and ninth. Not one of them allowed a base runner.

“I know my job,” Soriano said. “I know what I have to do.”

The Yankees have seen Chamberlain and Rivera in the past, and although both are always popular topics of discussion, the day was especially significant for Soriano who faced the heart of the Tigers order in an impressive Yankees debut.

Soriano said afterward that he sought out a meeting with Brian Cashman this spring. Friends back home had told Soriano that Cashman didn’t want him on the team, obviously reacting to Cashman’s comments that he wanted the Yankees to focus their spending elsewhere. They met in Cashman’s office, and Soriano said he left that meeting with a better understanding of the situation, confident that the general manager believed in him.

Today he earned that confidence by retiring Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Ryan Raburn.

“It was different (pitching the eighth),” Soriano said. “But when I signed I knew it would be different.”

• One last Soriano note: He said he usually went to the bullpen in the sixth inning last year. This year, he’s been picking Rivera’s brain, and when Rivera said he was heading to the bullpen in the fifth, Soriano went with him. There was no way Soriano was going to leave later than Mo.

• Speaking of Rivera: Why did he go with the high socks? “I just wanted to do it like that,” he said. Fair enough, Mo. Fair enough.

• Curtis Granderson said he wasn’t sure he would be allowed to play today until he talked to Cashman at around 4 p.m. yesterday. Less than 24 hours later he was in center field.

• As for his home run against a left-hander, Granderson said that’s connected to the changes he made last season. “When I got (the moving parts) all aligned, it didn’t matter if it was a lefty or a righty,” he said. “It was just always a little issue of getting everything in the right spot. What Kevin Long and myself decided to do was, hey, lets eliminate some of those things. This is where we want to be, let’s go ahead and get you right there.”

• Russell Martin on Granderson’s catch in the ninth: “That’s an incredible read off the bat,” Martin said. “He might be the only guy who can catch that ball.”

• Speaking of Martin, he joked that he’s on pace for 162 stolen bases this season. Truth is, when he’s been healthy, Martin has run quite a bit for a catcher. He stole 21 bases in 2007, and 18 in 2008. “I like to pick my times,” Martin said. “We’ll see, if my legs stay healthy, I’ll try to get as many as I can.”

• For Brett Gardner, there’s really no such thing as a straight sacrifice bunt. Today he laid down two sac bunts, and although I’m usually on board with the idea that most bunts are a bad idea, I think it’s a little different when the guy bunting has a chance to turn every good bunt into a single. “He’s bunting for base hits there,” Joe Girardi said.

• Why Joba Chamberlain in the seventh inning and not Dave Robertson? “My gut told me to go to Joba,” Girardi said.

• Martin said the cold and wind had an impact on CC Sabathia’s offspeed stuff, but as Girardi said, the Yankees will take six innings, two earned runs every time. “He said he didn’t have any problem (with the weather),” Martin said. “But my hand was freezing.”

• Building on his strong spring training, Alex Rodriguez had a sharp double and two walks. Off the bat, I was positive — positive! — the double was a home run.

• The Yankees are now 63-45-1 all time on Opening Day. They are 35-14-1 at home and 28-31 on the road.

• According to Elias, the Yankees have started the exact same infield and outfield on consecutive Opening Days for the first time since 1926-27 (1B Gehrig, 2B Lazzeri, SS Koenig, 3B Dugan, LF Meusel, CF Combs and RF Ruth).

• Today was the Yankees first ever home game in March. “I’ve been petitioning the league to start in March for years now,” Mark Teixeira said. “Finally they let us start in March because everyone knows about my Aprils.”

Associated Press photos of Rivera, Rodriguez and Mike Mussina

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 119 Comments →

Granderson’s glove keeps pace with his bat03.31.11

Curtis Granderson’s bat stole the show today, but his glove was just as impressive. Wrapped around his seventh-inning home run were three highlight-worthy catches: A diving catch in the first inning, a good-positioning catch in the sixth and running catch in the ninth.

Here’s Granderson talking about all three.

First inning
After going back with his first step, charged and made a diving catch against Will Rhymes
“After I was on my way to the airport (yesterday) someone said, how do you think you’ll feel on a dive? I go, ‘You know what, I hadn’t even thought about that because it didn’t come up in any of the games. It’s just one of those things that kind of happens.’ And sure enough, the first ball today I have to dive for. And I felt fine.”

Sixth inning
After Brandon Inge doubled with two outs, Granderson shifted for Alex Avila and made the final out of the inning
“Beforehand we were just looking at how Avila was batting against left-handed (pitchers) and he tends to go the other way with some of the best left-handed (pitchers in the game), so we were shifted that way. The fact that Inge had made it to second base caused me to move in even shallower. I just wanted to make sure I had a chance to possibly make a play at the plate if the ball was hit to me. It was kind of the situation all put me in the right position.”

Ninth inning
Playing shallow with Mariano Rivera on the mound, Granderson made a running catch at the end of the warning track in straightaway center against Inge
“Not sure at all. What Mariano likes to do, especially when he has a lead when he comes in the ball game, he doesn’t want balls to fall in in front, so Gardner, myself and Swisher we play a lot shallower than we might through the whole course of the game. Then, when the ball is hit where it is, I think the wind helped me a little bit. Just getting a chance to get a good read. It all started this spring we talked a lot about, let’s just keep pushing in. Let’s see how shallow you can play and trust that you can get to that ball. First test again today to prove that it worked out.”

Here’s Granderson speaking postgame.

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Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 113 Comments →

Back in time: Granderson goes deep in Opening Day win03.31.11

A week ago, no one was sure Curtis Granderson would be healthy enough for Opening Day. Today he hit the go-ahead home run in a 6-3 Yankees win against the Tigers. He has homered on Opening Day three years in a row. The game was tied at 3 — Mark Teixeira had hit three-run homer — when Granderson went deep off Phil Coke in the bottom of the seventh. CC Sabathia still hasn’t gotten a win on Opening Day since coming to the Yankees, but he battled through six innings before the Yankees loaded bullpen handled the seventh, eighth and ninth — from Joba Chamberlain to Rafael Soriano to Mariano Rivera.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 178 Comments →

Game 1: Yankees vs. Tigers03.31.11

YANKEES (0-0)
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Russell Martin C

LHP CC Sabathia (21-7, 3.18 in ’10)
Sabathia vs. Tigers

TIGERS (0-0)
Austin Jackson CF
Will Rhymes 2B
Magglio Ordonez RF
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Victor Martinez DH
Ryan Raburn LF
Jhonny Peralta SS
Brandon Inge 3B
Alex Avila C

RHP Justin Verlander (18-9, 3.37)
Verlander vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m., YES Network and ESPN

WEATHER: We’re not in Florida any more. It’s cold and the wind is blowing in from center field. Temperatures in the 40s with a chance of rain at some point.

UMPIRES: HP Dale Scott, 1B Jerry Meals, 2B CB Bucknor, 3B Dan Iassogna

THREE OF A KIND: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada will become the first trio of teammates in MLB, NHL, NFL or NBA history to play together in 17 straight seasons, according to Elias Sport Bureau.

THIRD YEAR: Since the new Yankee Stadium opened, the Yankees have the best home record in the major leagues, going 109-53 in the past two years. The 109 wins are the most by a major league team in its first two seasons in a particular venue.

THIRD STRAIGHT: CC Sabathia is the first Yankees starter to start three consecutive Opening Days since Roger Clemens started three straight from 2001 through 2003. Sabathia is one of 12 players in franchise history with three or more Opening Day starts.

THIRD PAIR: Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have started six Opening Days together. That’s tied for the most by a SS/3B duo in franchise history. Bucky Dent and Graig Nettles also started six together, so did Frankie Crosetti and Red Rolfe. According to Elias, the last SS/3B duo to start seven Opening Days together was Ozzie Guillen and Robin Ventura with the White Sox from 1990 through 1996.

UPDATE, 12:45 p.m.: Check it out, Austin Jackson got introduced on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium after all!

UPDATE, 1:01 p.m.: Posada behind the plate! He caught Mussina’s first pitch.

UPDATE, 1:11 p.m.: Nick Swisher has added a little shout out to the bleacher creatures in his pregame introduction (you know, the “right-field, number 33, Nick Swisher” thing).

UPDATE, 1:34 p.m.: Unable to take advantage of a pair of two-out walks, Cano struck out to end the first. Still scoreless after one.

UPDATE, 1:45 p.m.: Bases loaded with no outs, Sabathia got out of the inning with only one run scoring. It’s a 1-0 Tigers lead through an inning and a half.

UPDATE, 2:04 p.m.: Russell Martin’s first Yankees at-bat is the team’s first hit of the day, a sharp single to left.

UPDATE, 2:09 p.m.: After Jeter walked and Martin stole third, Teixeira’s first homer has given the Yankees a 3-1 lead in the third.

UPDATE, 2:30 p.m.: Sabathia allowed another run in the top of the fourth, but ultimately got a strikeout to strand runners at the corners. This looks like one of those Sabathia starts where he’s not overwhelming, but keeps finding a way to get through innings and get huge outs when he needs them.

UPDATE, 2:45 p.m.: Strange error by Robinson Cano opened the door for an unearned run and a tied game in the fifth.

UPDATE, 3:07 p.m.: Must admit, I was with Alex on that one. It looked like a no-doubt home run off the bat. I thought it was way out of here. By the way, Rodriguez has a hit in eight straight Opening Day games (that he’s played in, obviously).

UPDATE, 3:31 p.m.: Looks like he got back just in time. Granderson takes Phil Coke deep, now Soriano is getting loose in the bullpen.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Gameday Threadwith 862 Comments →

Pregame notes: Not a perfect day, but good enough03.31.11

It’s cold and the tarp is still on the field, but right now, the consensus seems to be that the Yankees will be able to play this afternoon. The rain has stopped, and this window should stay open long enough to get started. Given tomorrow’s forecast, Joe Girardi said “you have to do everything you can do to play today.”

Not a perfect day for baseball, but it’s probably good enough.

Welcome to Opening Day. Curtis Granderson arrived last night, the Yankees have A-lineup taking the field and they have their ace on the mound.

“It’s just a new beginning,” Derek Jeter said. “It’s like that every season. All of us as players get butterflies and get a little nervous going into Opening Day. It’s something we all look forward to. Then again, it’s something we want to get behind us and get into the swing of the season. A lot of excitement. You think back to when you were a kid in Little League, you look forward to Opening Day. I’ve said it time and time again, Opening Day here seems like it’s a little more special.”

For the Yankees, there is comfort in handing the ball to CC Sabathia. He has yet to win on Opening Day in pinstripes, but there are few better to matchup against Justin Verlander.

“He understands what he was brought here to do,” Girardi said. “And he relishes in his role of being the ace, the No. 1 guy.”

• Granderson said he got six or seven at-bats yesterday. He also played the field for about six innings and ran the bases after he was done. “Everything’s feeling good,” he said. The outfield might be a little wet today, but Granderson said the only way he won’t play will be if the Yankees don’t play.

• A.J. Burnett is still a little sick, but the Yankees still expect him to start on Saturday. “He’s still sick, but we’ll let nature take its course,” Girardi said.

• The decision to carry Luis Ayala over Steve Garrison had to do with experience. Garrison is a lefty with a spot on the 40-man, but he’s rarely pitched out of the bullpen and he has five games of experience above Double-A. Ayala look good this spring, and he has 377 games of big league experience.

• Jorge Posada will begin trying to find his designated hitter routine — which will surely be much different now that he has all that a major league stadium can provide — but Girardi said Posada was “relaxed” this spring and seems ready for the new role.

• Speaking of Posada, once again, Girardi was asked about the possibility of using Posada as a third catcher: “I guess if it was an emergency situation you’d probably put him in there ahead of Nunez,” Girardi said. Basically, don’t hold your breath waiting for Posada to catch this season.

• Sabathia could go 110-115 pitches if necessary.

• How good is Verlander? “I’d rate his stuff as good as anyone’s,” Girardi said. “You have to make this guy work.”

• It’s legitimately cold at Yankee Stadium, and Jeter did his part to keep expectations low. “The pitchers have a huge advantage,” he said, before immediately laughing.

TIGERS
Austin Jackson CF
Will Rhymes 2B
Magglio Ordonez RF
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Victor Martinez DH
Ryan Raburn LF
Jhonny Peralta SS
Brandon Inge 3B
Alex Avila C

Associated Press photos of Jeter during yesterday’s workout and Sabathia from his appearance on Letterman

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 194 Comments →

No surprises in Opening Day lineup03.31.11

Apparently the blog is back up and running. Just in time.

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Russell Martin C

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 73 Comments →

Opening Day schedule of events03.31.11

10:20 a.m.-11:20 a.m. Yankees batting practice

11:00 a.m. Gates open to ticket holders

11:20 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Tigers batting practice

12:43-12:53 p.m. Baseline introductions

12:53 p.m. Introduction of Giant American Flag unfurled by West Point Cadets

12:54 p.m. Moment of Silence

12:56 p.m. National Anthem performed by Haley Swindal
US Navy Super Hornet flyover (weather permitting)

1:00 p.m. Ceremonial first pitch: Mike Mussina

1:04 p.m. Umpires and Managers to Home Plate

1:07 p.m. Yankees take the field

1:09 p.m. First Pitch

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 16 Comments →

Pitching matchups vs. Detroit03.30.11

There was some debate about which Yankees starter should pitch the second game this season. There was never any debate about who would start Opening Day.

For the third year in a row, it’s CC Sabathia.

“He was not on the bubble,” Joe Girardi said. “His spot in the rotation really wasn’t up for discussion. For him (spring training) was to get ready.”

Thursday
LHP CC Sabathia (21-7, 3.18 ERA last season)
vs.
RHP Justin Verlander (18-9, 3.37)
1:05 p.m., YES Network and ESPN

Friday
Off day

Saturday
RHP A.J. Burnett (10-15, 5.26)
vs.
RHP Brad Penny (3-4, 3.23)
4:10 p.m., FOX

Sunday
RHP Phil Hughes (18-8, 4.19)
vs.
RHP Max Scherzer (12-11, 3.50)
1:05 p.m., YES Network

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 186 Comments →

Opening Day roster03.30.11

Predicting an Opening Day roster on February 13 is nearly impossible. There’s no way of knowing who might be hurt (Pedro Feliciano and Francisco Cervelli), who might surprise in spring training (Bartolo Colon and Luis Ayala) and who might find themselves playing elsewhere (Sergio Mitre and Romulo Sanchez).

I tried to predict the roster right before camp opened. I’ll give myself a C+.

Here’s the actual Yankees roster that will open the season tomorrow.

Lineup
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada C
Curtis Granderson CF
Russell Martin C

Going into camp, I didn’t think Joe Girardi would pull the trigger on Gardner in the leadoff spot. By the middle of the Grapefruit League schedule, that opinion changed. Behind Gardner, everything falls into place pretty easily. You can argue that Cano should be hitting third, but I like the decision to keep the heart of the order unchanged. All three are still very productive hitters. No sense moving things around based on one year.

Bench
Gustavo Molina C
Andruw Jones OF
Eric Chavez 1B/3B
Eduardo Nunez SS/2B

Pretty much impossible to guess Molina a month and a half ago — or even two weeks ago — and Jones was an obvious pick. Ultimately, I went 1-for-2 on the real decisions. It didn’t take long for Chavez to become a clear favorite. After just a few days it was obvious the Yankees were hoping he’d make the team. I had that one right. For the utility spot, I thought the Yankees would stick with Pena, but Nunez outplayed him and rightfully won the job.

Rotation
CC Sabathia
A.J. Burnett
Phil Hughes
Ivan Nova
Freddy Garcia

The early favorites won the last two spots, and Burnett got the nod in the No. 2 spot ahead of Hughes. The only part I had wrong was the order of Nos. 4 and 5. My guess heading into spring was that the Yankees would give the veteran the fourth spot and ease the rookie in as the No. 5. Then Nova had a terrific spring and easily won the right to be the fourth starter. I’m giving myself partial credit.

Bullpen
Mariano Rivera
Rafael Soriano
Joba Chamberlain
Dave Robertson
Boone Logan
Bartolo Colon
Luis Ayala

Most of the bullpen was easy to predict. Ayala was a complete wild card, added to the roster only because Feliciano was hurt (and because Brian Cashman couldn’t find a better option on the trade or free agent market). Ayala had a very nice spring, which was enough to keep himself on the radar for unexpected opening. As for Colon, that’s the roster spot that could have been predicted that I never would have predicted. He absolutely deserved a spot, but I didn’t have high expectations coming into camp.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 81 Comments →

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