Raul Ibanez always seems to laugh a little when someone asks how he’s holding up under the strain of playing left field regularly. He seems to understand why the question is being asked, but the guy has played at least 134 games in nine of the past 10 seasons, and he was regular DH for only one of those seasons (in 2005, when he played in all 162 games). He’s been on the disabled list once since 2004 and missed less than a month during that stint.
“You know you always prepare,” Ibanez said. “If I was told that I was going to DH this winter, and I prepared to DH, that would mean that I’m slacking on my offseason conditioning. I think, every offseason, especially the older you get, you don’t train the same. You prepare to go out there all the time. I don’t understand how to not do something a lot.”
“Thirty-five with a lot of miles,” Jones said, smiling. “… When they call my name, physically and mentally, everything just kind of goes away. Might not feel good before the game when you wake up in the morning, but when you come to the field and you put your uniform on, it’s game on.”
The Yankees have gotten good production from both Jones and Ibanez, and they’ve used Dewayne Wise and Jayson Nix to give them breathers now and then. Neither hits for an especially good average these days, but both Ibanez and Jones are powerful hitters in the bottom third of the order.
They’ve combined for 24 home runs and 66 RBI.
“It’s very unfortunate, we’re going to miss Gardy, he’s a great player,” Ibanez said. “But we’ve been dealing with this pretty much the whole year, so it’s not an adjustment for Druw or myself, or DeWayne or anyone.”
“Don’t forget,” Jones said. “We’ve got Dewayne Wise. We’ve got Jayson Nix. We’ve got a lot of guys on the bench that can go out there and get the job done. So, we were looking forward to it, for him to come back and give us that boost with his speed and his good defense in left field. Right now, everybody needs to go out there and just continue to do what we’ve been doing and see what happens in the end.”
Associated Press photos