Pregame notes: Steinbrenner “pleasantly surprised, not shocked” with first-place Yanks (UPDATED w/audio)
UPDATE, 3:18 p.m.: Here’s audio of Hal Steinbrenner’s chat with reporters:
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Now here’s my post from earlier:
In the building for Photo Day, Hal Steinbrenner lauded the first-place start by the Yankees. You could tell from his voice that the success of young call-ups from Scranton have invigorated ownership.
“I can say it’s a good thing. There’s no doubt it’s a good thing,” Steinbrenner said. “I’m excited about it. I’m excited last night with Adams and Romine getting those hits. It’s a great thing to see. A lot of these kids you wouldn’t have seen this year, chances are. They would’ve played in Scranton all year long if the marquee players were all healthy.”
With the cavalcade of stars sent to the DL so far, Steinbrenner admitted he was pleased with the club’s results. The Yankees are in first in the division, and opened today 10 games over .500.
“Pleasantly surprised. I’m not shocked. I didn’t buy into the doomsday scenario that many people did,” Steinbrenner said. “I knew we had some good kids at Triple-A. More importantly, I knew that the guys we got in the offseason were veterans. Whether people thought they were worth getting or not, I felt they were veterans and this is what you expect veterans to do.”
It’s no secret attendance at the Stadium and ratings on the YES Network are both down. Steinbrenner met with MLB officials today and said attendance had dipped across the sport.
He hopes the new faces will pique the interest of fans now that the weather has improved.
“The good stories that we’ve all known about on this club are going to be more well-known to the fan base,” he said. “I think people are going to be excited to come out and see the Adamses, the Romines, the Hafners and the players we got in the offseason.”
Steinbrenner also said the organization will not negotiate with Joe Girardi during the season, but he praised the work of the manager and Brian Cashman, framing it in the obvious.
“Both have done a great job,” he said. “There have been a lot of ups and downs to Triple-A and back, shuffling around players. They’ve done a great job, and Cash did a great job with the players we got in the offseason.”
Steinbrenner did not want to delve into the future for Robinson Cano, but said he has met a couple times with Cano’s new agent, Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA Sports, a partner of Roc Nation, the company founded by Jay-Z. Steinbrenner deemed those meetings “procedural.”
Although the Yankees have been burned by long-term deals in excess of $100 million in recent years, Steinbrenner said the market will dictate how long the club would be willing to go on a contract. He didn’t say it, but that’s clearly in consideration for Cano, who will turn 31 in October.
“Anybody would get a little nervous if you get into a seven or eight-year deal,” Steinbrenner said. “It depends on the age of the player, too, I guess. Give an eight-year contract to a 34-year old — you probably wouldn’t do that, right? Twenty-five, 26?”
Here are the rest of today’s notes:
• Brian Cashman on if the slow progress of Kevin Youkilis was something to fear: “I hope not. He took batting practice again today. Obviously, he’s moving along slowly, but he’s moving along.”
• For more on the acquisition of Reid Brignac, click here. It includes Cashman’s thoughts on Ben Francisco and why fans need to pipe down.
• Girardi does not expect Travis Hafner (shoulder) to have any limitations.
• Here’s Girardi on Chris Stewart: “He’s just doing treatment. He’s better. My hope is that we don’t need him today again and then we’ll talk about it tomorrow.”
• As I said earlier, this is the 1,046th start of Curtis Granderson’s career, but his first ever in right field. Girardi talked to Granderson about playing right and said Granderson was fine with it.
As you know, Granderson worked in right and left during his rehab stint. He played twice in left since returning on Tuesday.
“Curtis is just here to play and wants to win,” Girardi said. “He’s the type of guy who would do anything you ask him to do. It was an easy conversation. Sometimes you don’t know how those conversations are going to go, but it was very easy.”
• The club will benefit from not just Granderson’s flexibility, but that of Vernon Wells, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki. He does not want to rotate players just to rotate them, but a tight schedule over the next month will require all four to rest at times.
He said Ichiro’s rest today was not a reflection of his recent struggles at the plate.
• Vidal Nuno will be in the bullpen today. Girardi said he will probably pitch when Andy Pettitte’s spot pops up next week but that it will depend on if they need Nuno before then.