Hello there, Brian Heyman here at Yankee Stadium for Chad, ready to watch the first-place Yankees and the last-place Red Sox. Takes a little of the fun out of it. But Ichiro must be excited, slipping on the pinstripes for his home debut. He figures to be greeted warmly. But he knows he’s going to have to hit to keep the fans’ good feelings coming his way.
Or as he put it: “Obviously I need to do well … so they’ll be on my side.”
Ichiro admitted he had actually dressed in Yankees clothing prior to Monday’s trade.
“I was in Japan till 2000,” he said. “I was a big fan of MLB. I had a lot of jerseys. I had a Yankee uniform. It’s different. But I feel like I wore it before because I wore it in Japan.”
While he isn’t the hitter he used to be — now batting .261 — there’s a school of thought that he’s going to step up his game again because he’s with a team trying to nail down a division title. Ichiro said he was always motivated in Seattle despite the circumstances. But Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who had seen Ichiro as a manager in Japan and once wanted the Mets to go after Ichiro when Valentine was managing them, sees more coming from Ichiro now.
“I think he’s a special person and a special baseball player, and now he’s in a special situation,” Valentine said.
Nick Swisher still isn’t back in the lineup, so Ichiro is still playing right. The Yankees will see how Swisher, who has had that strained hip flexor, feels tomorrow.
“We don’t want to have a setback,” Joe Girardi said. “I don’t think we’re being overly cautious. He’s not quite ready.”
Joba Chamberlain threw here today and is scheduled make his seventh rehab appearance Sunday, this time at Double-A Trenton.
Girardi said Alex Rodriguez will have his broken left hand x-rayed again next week. Girardi wouldn’t put a timetable on A-Rod’s return, although the going guess has been 6 to 8 weeks.