The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Yankees pregame: All about the drugs06.05.13

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Most of the questions at Joe Girardi’s press conference were about the latest PED scandal that is rocking baseball, especially since Alex Rodriguez is caught up in it.

Girardi said he hasn’t spoken to A-Rod today.

“When I talk to him, it will strictly be baseball stuff and rehab stuff like it always has been,” Girardi said.

“My concern is about the game and the game being clean and the game just being good. I had hoped that we were through it, but obviously maybe we’re not. We’re going to find out. But we’ll let MLB handle it.”

Girardi was asked how the team will be affected if A-Rod is suspended for 100 games, which is the plan, according to ESPN.

“We’ll cross that bridge,” Girardi said. “This is in MLB’s hands. For me to speculate doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Girardi was asked how he’s dealing with the issue in regard to the Yankees involved, including Francisco Cervelli.

“Being in New York, you’re always going to have things that come up,” Girardi said. “Some of it is going to be speculation, some of it’s not. You deal with it. You deal with it as time goes on and make sure that players focus on the field. I think our guys are really good at doing that. There are a lot of expectations that players have to deal with here. There’s a lot of different things that players have to deal with on a daily basis to play the game, and I think guys are really good at handling that.

“I’m always concerned about my players. And I’m concerned about guys on other teams, too, how they handle situations and how they deal with it, how it affects maybe a rehab. But my focus on them is doing whatever I have to to help them get ready. You try to put them in a good place. Right now, it’s in Tampa for Alex to get ready. Hopefully that will build up to games. But that’s my focus. My focus is not on what MLB is investigating and all of that. And I don’t want to get caught up in that just because, in a sense, they’re going to handle it. I’ll let them handle it. I’ll continue to assist our players in getting ready any way they can. But he’s in Tampa getting ready and that’s what we want him to do.

“I think the game is always bigger than one individual, 10 individuals, a hundred individuals, a thousand individuals. This game has gone on for a long period of time. I think the important thing is you try to learn from everything that happens in the  game, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. You try to learn. That’s how I try to get by it and through it and however you want to talk about it.

“This is a great game and I love this game and I want what’s best for this game,” Girardi added. “I think baseball is trying to do that as well. Unfortunately there are some things that you go through in all sports that sometimes is not what’s best for the sport. But you’re going to get through it. … This game has a long history and it’s a great game and it will continue to be a great game.”

Lyle Overbay is in right for the third straight game and Ichiro Suzuki is sitting at the start. Girardi said it’s partly about giving “our guys a day off in a long stretch. We’re going at it night game after day game, long day yesterday. So it’s just a good way to give Ich a little break and he’ll be back out there tomorrow.”

Mark Teixeira has driven in seven runs with two homers in the last two games.

“Tex is a great RBI guy and that’s what he’s doing,” Girardi said.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 75 Comments →

Yankees postgame: A-Rod the lightning rod again06.05.13

Alex RodriguezThe postgame talk after this 4-3 Yankees win over the Indians was about performances and performance-enhancing drugs.

The ESPN news flash had spread that MLB plans to suspend about 20 players. One of them, Alex Rodriguez, could be facing a 100-game suspension in relation to allegedly purchasing PEDs from the now-closed anti-aging clinic in south Florida. Why he would do that after having to admit previously that he had used while with the Rangers is beyond me. He has denied this latest claim.

Ryan Braun and Francisco Cervelli are also among those on the list.

“I always worry about my players,” Joe Girardi said. “And I worry about the game. … If you care about the game, you care about how it’s affected. I think we all hoped we kind of got through it. But obviously we’re not through it yet.”

The steroid era lives on.

Vernon Wells didn’t think this subject would be a distraction to the Yankees. He’s hoping the steroid era will die one day.

“We’ve done so much as a group to rid ourselves of conversations like this, stepping outside of our agreement and making changes in the middle of it,” Vernon Wells said. “We’ll continue to make strides to clean the game up. … I know I’ll never be a part of this conversation.”

Joba Chamberlain said: “Major League Baseball is going to do its thing and we’re going to go out and play.”

As for David Phelps’ performance, it was sure better than the last start when he got one out and was charged with five runs against the Mets.

“I’ve been chomping at the bit since the last outing,” Phelps said.

His fastball command came and went in this start. But it was there when he needed it. Phelps threw 102 pitches and allowed just one infield hit to go with four walks and seven Ks in six innings.

“He kind of ran the game,” Terry Francona said. “He mixed everything up and we didn’t have anything to show for it. We made him work. We took our walks. We couldn’t push any runs across. It’s rare that you see getting one hit and look up and see a bunch of pitches like that. He did a very good job of not giving in, mixing things up, elevating and cutting.”

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 49 Comments →

Hal speaks on Yankees issues06.04.13

Hal SteinbrennerHal Steinbrenner was grilled on a variety of subjects before last night’s 7-4 win over the Indians. Here are some more highlights besides expressing the Yankees’ disappointment in Alex Rodriguez’s past escapades and his praise regarding how the team has done despite their injury adversity:

On Robinson Cano and his expiring contract: “There’s nothing new to report. If something significant (happens), believe me you guys will be the first to know.”

On whether Cano changing agents from Scott Boras to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports is a positive thing: “We’ve had a good relationship with Scott, so we’ll see. … There’s been a lot of years and my dad certainly had his dealings with him and Scott’s been around a long time, so it is what it is. Whoever the agent is, that’s who we’ll be dealing with.”

On the challenges of meeting the sub-$189 million payroll goal for next season: “Again, tell me how the young players are going to continue to develop. Tell me how Pineda is going to do. It’s too early to speculate.”

On how George Steinbrenner would cope with losing to the Mets last week: “He went through a few, so I mean sometimes he handled it better than others, right? … Maybe he would have been fine. Maybe he would have surprised everybody. Maybe not. But it’s a long season. It’s a marathon and we’re right in the middle of it. We’re right in the middle of it.”

More on getting swept by the Mets: “Look, they are the crosstown rivals. There’s no doubt about that. But I concern myself maybe a little bit more with the teams in our division. You have to. But does it feel good? No. Does it sting? Yes, absolutely.”

On Brian Cashman’s comments to ESPN about Alex Rodriguez not being about to live up to his contract: “It’s big contract to live up to. I didn’t see Brian’s comments to be honest with you. Look, we just hope he comes back healthy as he did in ’09 after the surgery and we hope he contributes in a big way.  I mean, he’s a heck of an athlete, and if the surgery has fixed the problem, you may see good things out of him. We hope so.”

On Cashman saying that nobody can live up to the contract: “Well, that may be true. That’s a philosophical argument there, I guess. It’s a big contract. But we all hope he’s going to act like a Yankee and do the best he can to live up to it.’’

On how the investigation into Biogenesis has complicated the relationship between the team and A-Rod: “We haven’t been told anything, so it hasn’t complicated it at all. He’s been in Tampa. He’s been rehabbing and we hope he comes back strong. But there’s innocent until proven guilty, right? We haven’t heard a thing.”

On the decline in attendance: “As I said a couple of weeks ago, I think there’s a lot of factors. We’re not the only major-league team by a long shot that’s down and I still think the economy’s not great and there’s other things going on, too. The weather was horrible in April as you know, but we’re starting to see better crowds now and that’s going to continue with summer coming, and I just urge people to come out and support this team. Number one, they need it right now. They’re in the fight of their lives. And number two, they’ve earned it.”

Also, here’s a link to my story today on the Yankees finally finding some offense last night, plus my feature story on Nick Swisher and his return and Lyle Overbay stepping into right field for the first time in a regular-season game since 1999 in rookie ball.

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 492 Comments →

Steinbrenner admits disappointment in A-Rod06.03.13

Hal Steinbrenner spoke after a press conference to announce the Big Ten’s new affiliation with the Pinstripe Bowl and he didn’t hold back on the subject of Alex Rodriguez.

Asked if he has been disappointed in A-Rod, Steinbrenner said: “There have no doubt been times when we’ve been disappointed in him and we’ve conveyed that to him and he understands that. But look everybody’s human and everybody makes mistakes. If you’ve got a guy over the course of 10 years, there’s going to be times any of us make mistakes.
“I know he’s been working hard and he’s been working hard to come back and he does work. He knows what it means to be a Yankee and he knows what we expect of him and he knows what his teammates expect of him, without a doubt. So we just hope he comes back strong. We need all the help we can get.”
On the team’s performance, Steinbrenner said: “A lot of people expected a doomsday scenario, April 1. I didn’t think anybody would think we’d be three games out of first place in the American League East. So I think the team has done well against adversity. The pitching has done great. You can’t say enough about the pitching the entire season and the guys we’ve brought in, the veterans have done a good job, and some of the young kids have done a good job. The last week has hurt. There’s no doubt about it. It’s not a fun place to be, but, again, let’s try to keep in perspective that we’re still very much in this fight and we’re right at the top.”


Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 32 Comments →

Yankees pregame: Grandy off center?05.05.13

The Yankees had seemed to have passed on moving Curtis Granderson from center to left after he broke his right forearm in his first at-bat of his first exhibition game and missed spring training. But Joe Girardi today opened up the possibility again that Granderson may not be in center when he returns, that Brett Gardner may stay there.

“We’ll decide that as time goes on,” Girardi said. “We’ve talked about Grandy; we just want to get him healthy. People have asked me a lot about, ‘When Grandy comes back, what are you going to do with your outfield if you have three guys who are playing pretty well?’ I said, ‘Well, Grandy is going to play. He’s a big part of our offense.’ But as we’ve seen around here, a lot can happen in a couple of weeks.”

Later, Girardi added, ‘We might toy around with some other things (for Granderson), left, right, other things. He’s getting reps everywhere right now.”

But that isn’t happening with Gardner next to him.

“That’s not my concern,” Girardi said. “My concern is how he reacts in all the different spots.”

Granderson has been playing extended spring games. And, of course, he had to get hit by a pitch Saturday in the arm. But this was in the triceps, according to Girardi.

“From what I understand, he’s OK. He’s kind of picking up where he left off,” Girardi said about him getting hit again.

The minor-league complex in Tampa will be packed with rehabbing major leaguers with several others set to join Granderson, including Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.

“I know there’s a lot of big people there,” Girardi said. “I understand that. But that’s not going to be the focus of my day. The focus of my day is the people in this room right now and winning the game.”

David Robertson played catch for the second straight day. He plans to test that lower left hamstring again Tuesday prior to the game in Colorado, throwing on flat ground and then throwing a few pitches off a mound if that goes well. He said he just has a little tightness now.

“I don’t see why I can’t be ready,” Robertson said.

Andy Pettitte struggled without his signature cutter in his last start, against the Astros. Girardi doesn’t expect that to be a problem today, against the A’s.

“I’ll be completely shocked if it’s not there today,” Girardi said.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 28 Comments →

Pregame notes: “There was a little bit more thought”04.01.13

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It’s been said that Joe Girardi has one of the easiest jobs in baseball: Just write down the names of a bunch of superstars, call it a lineup, and go win 95 games. Things are a bit different this season, and Girardi acknowledged that this Opening Day lineup took him a little longer than usual.

“It’s a little bit more,” he said. “You look at some of the positions that you’re going to do, and more about where you’re going to put guys in the lineup, in a sense, than maybe who’s playing. Trying to divide up your lefties a little bit against Lester, and having some new faces in Wells and Francisco, trying to figure out where to put them. So there was a little bit more thought.”

Girardi settled on moving Eduardo Nunez near the top of the lineup, strictly to split the lefties. Ichiro Suzuki is batting seventh today, but Girardi said Ichiro will move up to the No. 2 spot when the Yankees face right-hander Clay Buchholz on Wednesday.

“We’ve liked the way Nuney has swung the bat,” Girardi said. “I didn’t particularly want to put three lefties in a row against Lester to start the game. We’ve liked Gardy’s ability to get on base, so I put him in the leadoff spot. And without Jeet, I thought we should put a right-hander in there, and we’ve liked what Nuney has done.”

• Based on this spring’s catching matchups, I really assumed Chris Stewart would catch CC Sabathia today. Then again, I also thought Girardi would stick with Ichiro in the No. 2 spot even against a lefty, so what do I know? “I think the first month, it will be somewhat of a process of figuring out exactly how you’re going to (use the catchers),” Girardi said. “You can play spring training games, but playing in-season games is different. The things you have to handle are different. Your emotions are different. It was something that I thought about the last three or four days. Talked to my coaches about it, and right now it’s probably going to be a fairly even split.”

• It’s worth noting that Cervelli is actually a career .317/.414/.393 hitter against lefties.

According to Brian Cashman, Derek Jeter is scheduled to play catch and undergo treatment today. “There is no exact schedule for Derek because it’s what his ankle allows him to do,” Girardi said. “And we’re really not going to know that until he goes out there.”

• Have not seen Alex Rodriguez, but apparently he’s here. It’s still unclear just how much of the pregame ceremonies he’ll be a part of. “Introductions are usually not the first thing on my mind when I come in here,” Girardi said. “I’m anxious to see him. I want to see how he’s moving around in a sense because I haven’t seen him since, probably the end of January when he was just starting to ride a bike. What he chooses to do today is his prerogative, and I’m fine with whatever he chooses to do.”

• Also no sign of Mark Teixeira, who’s supposed to visit the doctor this morning. I know he was expecting to be out of the checkup in time to be here for the ceremonies.

• A few observations from the clubhouse: Dave Robertson’s has been given a new locker, the one right next to Mariano Rivera. Eduardo Nunez also has a new locker in between Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez. Francisco Cervelli’s old locker now belongs to Chris Stewart, so he’s in Nick Swisher’s old locker. Joba Chamberlain moved to Robertson’s old locker, David Phelps move to Chamberlain’s old locker, Cody Eppley moved to Phelps’ old locker, and Adam Warren has Eppley’s old locker.

• Not great news for Brennan Boesch and Lyle Overbay: They have the lockers generally given to players who bounce back and forth from Triple-A.

• In case it didn’t go without saying, Girardi said the Yankees will stick with just one left-handed reliever for the time being. “You look at our eighth inning and our ninth inning, and that’s nailed down,” Girardi said. “My hope is Joba will nail down the seventh inning. If there’s a lefty we want Boone to face in the seventh inning, we might do that, and then have Joba go after the righties. But I figure, if you can nail down the seventh, eighth and ninth, you can use Boonie earlier.”

• Someone from a Japanese television station said during Girardi’s pregame press conference that Hideki Matsui has been given Japan’s highest civilian honor. “Congratulations to Hideki,” Girardi said. “I think everybody is aware of what this organization thinks of Hideki Matsui. He’s a wonderful man, he was a wonderful player. Did a lot for the New York Yankees in his time here, and represented us very, very well. I think from the Yankees standpoint, we’d like to congratulate him because he’s a man who deserves a great honor.”

• The Yankees will honor the Sandy Hook victims and first responders before today’s game. “I think it’s important to say thank you,” Girardi said. “The town of Newtown has went through so much during the last four or five months, six months, and you think about being a responder. Sometimes we don’t think about what they go through, and how important they are during a situation like that. I think it’s nice that we’re getting an opportunity to say thank you for all that you do, because they’re obviously going to do more as the future goes on.”

• The video above is Girardi’s opening comments from this morning’s pregame press conference.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 685 Comments →

As A-Rod’s world turns…02.01.13

My mother used to watch some soap opera called As The World Turns. I have no idea what it was about, no clue whether it’s still on television and absolutely no interest in finding out. I only know that, with any soap opera type drama, it’s the first name that always pops into my head.

With that in mind, here’s what’s going on with Alex Rodriguez…

A source has told ESPN that Anthony Bosch used to personally inject Rodriguez with HGH. That said, ESPN also notes that the source made reference to Bosch once having trouble finding a vein for the injection, despite the fact an HGH injection would not require a vein. Fishy? Sure. There’s absolutely nothing proven here, but it’s yet another source — and ESPN says there are “several sources” who have said Bosch used to talk about his relationship with Rodriguez – who claims to have knowledge of Rodriguez’s connection to the now infamous Miami clinic.

Rodriguez’s people, of course, say the claims are totally false.

People close to Rodiguez have also told Yahoo! Sports, and a few others, that Rodriguez has no plans of retiring or backing out of his contract with the Yankees. “Alex is working diligently on his rehabilitation and looks forward to getting back on the field as soon as possible,” one source told Tim Brown.

Obviously nothing is proven at this point, it’s just another ugly chapter that’s ongoing. And probably will be ongoing for a long, long time.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 215 Comments →

Not worth the debate01.30.13

As you might assume, I don’t schedule the Pinch Hitter posts based on when Alex Rodriguez might be accused of further steroid use. If I had the option I might have rearranged some things to begin this day with a Pinch Hitter post that perfectly fit yesterday’s bombshell, but there really wasn’t a perfect match in the hopper.

And really, wasn’t Gil’s post connected to the latest A-Rod drama in its own way?

Mariano Rivera is the most dominant pitcher of his generation, and he’s the greatest reliever in the history of baseball. Unless, of course, you prefer the career of a guy like Goose Gossage, who pitched more innings and often entered difficult situations much earlier in the game. Rivera vs. Gossage is a debate about baseball. It’s all about workload and dominance; wondering how Rivera would have done in Gossage’s shoes and vice versa. It’s about real, authentic greatness.   

At no point is Rodriguez going to be a part of a conversation like that.

Let me be clear, I do not feel sorry for Rodriguez. I’ll certainly feel bad for him if this Miami New Times report proves to be untrue, but the fact is, Rodriguez created this state of distrust. It’s far easier to believe he’s still tainted than to believe he’s turned innocent. It might not be fair, but it’s his reality. And it’s a shame that it’s our reality, too.

You know what we should be doing this winter? We should be rooting for Rodriguez. He should be a rallying point; one of the game’s great players trying to come back from yet another injury. There should be pity, and there should be hope. There should not be animosity, and there should not be anger. There should not be betrayal.

Fact is, baseball loves a hero. The game has its share of villains, but it’s always cheered the good guys. If anything, baseball might have created too many idols.

Rodriguez will never be among them. I’m sure the baseball culture of the past two decades or so helped create this monster — the pressure and temptation to use performance enhancing drugs must have been immense — but Rodriguez caved. He was not the hero. He’s admitted to having given in for three years when he was younger, and now the easiest thing to do is believe that he did it again. The Yankees reportedly want to void his contract, and who can blame them? All of baseball would rather walk away from Rodriguez than rush to his defense.

Where does Alex Rodriguez rank among the greatest players of all time? The better and far sadder question is, does anyone really care?

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 572 Comments →

Week in review: Jeter’s ankle, Robertson’s contract, Pettitte’s decision01.27.13

I feel like I’ve written this before, and it remains perfectly true: I rarely notice uniform numbers. I know that Jeter is No. 2, and Mariano is No. 42, but if you go too far beyond the obvious name-number combinations, I really have to think about it to put the two together.

Further proof that there are endless ways to enjoy this game.

This morning, Vincent wrote all about numbers. Not sabermetrics, but the numbers on the players’ backs, including Shelley Duncan wearing No. 17 when he made his big league debut in 2007. I covered Shelley in the minors that season, and I was paying quite a bit of attention when he got to the big leagues, but there’s no chance I could have told you what number he was wearing. None.

Some baseball fans want to see superstars, and some prefer on-the-rise prospects. Some have legitimate opinions on Class-A utility infielders, and some had never heard of Melky Mesa until he failed to step on third base last season. Some watch games on TV, some listen on radio, and some follow along online while they engage in conversations on forums and blogs (we like those folks!). Some study the game’s history, some worry about the future, and some just like the hats.

Baseball makes room for all types of fans. It’s one of the great things about the game.  

Another great thing about the game, at least in my position: Media guides. Thanks to my latest copy, here are some other obscure recent names who wore the numbers Vincent mentioned.

11 – Chris Widger, Morgan Ensberg
17 – Justin Christian, Kevin Cash, Chad Moeller
19 – Chris Basak, Kevin Thompson, Tyler Clippard
22 – Colin Curtis, Chad Huffman, Brian Gordon, Greg Golson
33 – Kelly Stinnett, Brian Bruney

• In an interview with MLB Network, Derek Jeter said he doesn’t expect to start running until spring training, but he still fully expects to be ready for Opening Day. “(The ankle) feels good now,” Jeter said. “Right where I feel it should be.”

• Brian Cashman creating a minor stir when he acknowledged on radio that Alex Rodriguez could miss the entire season if his recovery from hip surgery doesn’t go as expected. Also, the Daily News reported that a Rodriguez associate is being investigated in connection to performance enhancing drugs.

• The Yankees avoided arbitration with Dave Robertson, signing him to a one-year, $3.1-million deal. He was their last arbitration-eligible player without a contract.

• Joe Torre told reporters that there’s still a chance Andy Pettitte will pitch in the World Baseball Classic. According to Torre, Team USA wants Pettitte but the Yankees have expressed some discomfort in letting him play.

• The Yankees agreed to a minor league deal with left-handed first baseman Dan Johnson. He could have a chance to win regular at-bats as a designated hitter. The Yankees also signed right-handed outfielder Thomas Neal to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp.

• Speaking of minor leaguers coming to big league camp, Tyler Austin announced in an interview that he’s been invited to big league camp. The Yankees have yet to announce a full list of non-roster invitees.

• Yogi Berra and Joba Chamberlain were each honored at the annual B.A.T. dinner in New York.

• Several potential fits came off the board: Outfielder Justin Upton was traded to the Braves, catcher George Kottaras was claimed by the Royals, outfielder Jeff Baker signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, catcher Yorvit Torrealba signed a minor league deal with the Rockies, outfielder Scott Hairston signed a two-year deal with the Cubs and outfielder Delmon Young signed a one-year deal with the Phillies. Mark DeRosa, Ryan Raburn and Ben Francisco also signed last week.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 582 Comments →

Positive signs after A-Rod’s hip surgery01.18.13

I realize that in this age of fake girlfriends and lying cyclists, it’s a terrible idea to make an assumption. That said, I’m willing to give Dr. Bryan Kelly the benefit of the doubt.

He’s a hip specialist at a highly respected hospital where some of the most highly paid athletes in the world have trusted him with their careers. You can find his resume easily enough, and it’s legitimately overwhelming.

Basically, I’m willing to believe that Dr. Kelly can reshape a femur and reattach a labrum.

But when Alex Rodriguez went in for surgery this week, not everything was in Dr. Kelly’s hands, and as he explained earlier this month, the success or failure of Rodriguez’s recovery is going to hinge partially on the damage to his cartilage, which can’t be fixed or replaced.

Now there are two reports saying the same thing: Dr. Kelly did his job just fine, and Rodriguez’s knee just might live up to its part of the bargain as well. Both the New York Post and New York Daily News have quoted sources saying there was even less cartilage damage than Dr. Kelly anticipated.

“One thing is certain,” Dr. Kelly said before the surgery. “The less permanent damage you have to the cartilage, the greater the probability is for return to pre-injury level of play.”

So that’s a bit of good news to consider for the next six months while Rodriguez goes through the long rehab process.

Photo from Rodriguez’s Facebook page

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 621 Comments →

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