The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Pregame notes: There’s thumb-thing about Alex08.24.11

Alex Rodriguez used two terms yesterday to describe the status of his sprained thumb. He said he thought it was a “one-day injury” and a “day-to-day” one.

At the time I considered them the same thing. How wrong I was. A-Rod is out of the lineup again today, making the thumb at least a two-day injury.

“Give him today and we’ll see how it is tomorrow,” Joe Girardi said.

He felt well enough to field ground balls and do team toss. That means he’ll at least have a glove on, which he said is the most painful part. Girardi said there was a chance, though it sounded slim, that if he feels so pain-free during those drills that he begs back into the lineup, he’d get the green light. But with the manager tending toward caution I think it’s unlikely.

Rodriguez was seen with a giant wrap on his left hand yesterday in the dugout, but Girardi said that looked scarier than it was.

“That’s Geno,” Girardi said of trainer Gene Monahan. “These are old-school medicines that Geno puts on people.”

Rodriguez suffered the injury backhanding a ball on Sunday.

• Brian Cashman said the current roster is likely going to be the one you see down the stretch and in the playoffs. He doesn’t see the club making any deals.

“I’m going to continue to scan everything, but no, I’m not optimistic that we’re going to do anything,” he said. “I think this is most likely what we’ve got.”

• Trevor Cahill, tonight’s Oakland starting pitcher, has not been bad this season. His 4.17 ERA is just a bit above average. But the Yankees have absolutely destroyed him. He’s 0-2 with a 14.54 ERA in two starts against them this year, and 0-4 with a 13.50 in four career starts.

“This is a young man that has good stuff but we seem to be able to make him work,” Girardi said. “We got some fortunate hits off him last time. We got some walks that hurt him.”

• Today is Brett Gardner’s 28th birthday. I asked him if he ever feels like he’s getting old or worries what age will eventually do to his legs, which are essentially his livelihood.

“Some days you feel young and some days you feel old,” he said. “Sometimes you get tired but for the most part, knock on wood, this season I’ve been healthy and I’ve felt really really good. Age is just a number.”

He leads the team with 36 stolen bases. He is the first Yankee since Alfonso Soriano in 2001-03 to steal 30 bags in consecutive seasons.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 304 Comments →

Cashman: Waiver deals unlikely for Yankees08.13.11

The waiver-deal deadline is Aug. 31. But Brian Cashman, who stood pat at the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, isn’t counting on outside help coming now for the Yankees, either.

“I think … what you see is what you’re going to get,” Cashman said. “It doesn’t guarantee that there won’t be some changes. I highly doubt it. It’s not likely you’re going to see anything between now and Aug. 31 because of the waivers, guys not clearing.”

Maybe they will look in-house and see if Manuel Banuelos can help out of the bullpen before the season is out since they already have too many starters right now. Or maybe they can give him a taste of things here. The 20-year-old lefty is 0-1 with a 3.24 ERA in three starts since being promoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He took the loss at Syracuse Friday, allowing three runs, six hits and four walks and striking out three over 5 2/3. He left trailing 3-1 and the final was 7-4.

And what about Jesus Montero? The 21-year-old righty-hitting catcher is batting .283 with 13 homers and 55 RBI in 96 games. He went 2 for 5 with a solo homer Friday. He’s at .289 with three homers and five RBI over his last 10 games.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 112 Comments →

Yankees postgame: No deal07.31.11

Brian Cashman said he called around, that the goal is always to improve the pitching. But he didn’t find what he was looking for at the right price. So the rotation remains as is. The Yankees didn’t make a move before the nonwaiver trade deadline at 4 today.

“I just feel like we’re a lot deeper,” Cashman said. “I’m willing, by the position I’ve taken in the last three weeks, to rely on that than go out and pay an enormous price on something that I’m not certain what it’s going to provide. …

“We have one of the premier rosters in the game right now.”

Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon have combined for 18 wins. Cashman also praised the improvement in A.J. Burnett and talked about Phil Hughes just having to find the consistency. But most of all, he talked about the organizational pitching depth.

First there’s Ivan Nova with nine wins and no spot. Then there’s Adam Warren, the 23-year-old Triple-A righty. Cashman said he’s “a legitimate starting choice for us right now.” But they’re highest on Manny Banuelos, who appears to be on the fast track. The 20-year-old lefty has earned a promotion from Double-A Trenton. He’s scheduled to make his debut for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday. Cashman didn’t rule him out of the major-league picture for this season, either.

“He’s obviously got ability that the whole industry has taken notice of,” Cashman said.

Cashman also didn’t rule out moves before the waiver-deal deadline Aug. 31.

“It doesn’t mean we’re done shopping or done looking,” Cashman said. “But at the same time, I’m very comfortable with the decisions we made. I like our team. We’ll continue to look for ways to make it better. I think we have some very talented young kids. They might come up here and it’ll be interesting to see their attempt to make it better.”

Brett Gardner, who had the decisive three-run triple in today’s 4-2 win over the Orioles, didn’t think a trade was necessary.

“Everybody has been playing pretty well,” Gardner said. “You hear people talking — not players, teammates or coaches, but outside, media, things like that — about trying to get a pitcher. But I don’t really see where we need one. Our guys have been throwing the ball great.

“Freddy and Bartolo were two great pickups in the offseason. Both those guys have been tremendous. I think we’re right where we want to be at.”

Mariano Rivera took the no-deal outcome as a positive.

“That gives the whole team confidence that the front office, the manager and everybody, has confidence in us,” he said. “We have a great team, so we just have to go out there and fight.”

*Derek Jeter’s right middle finger took a beating in this series. He took a grounder off of it Saturday night. Then Jake Arrieta hit him on the knuckle with a third-inning 91 mph fastball in this finale. Jeter came out an inning later for a pinch hitter.

“I just have problems gripping, which can affect throwing and swinging, which is a problem when you’re trying to play baseball.” Jeter said.

X-rays were negative. He’s day to day. He hopes to play tonight in Chicago. But Joe Girardi wasn’t so sure.

“Could it be a day or two? I think it could be a possibility,” Girardi said. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

*Freddy Garcia extended his career-high streak to 59 2-3 innings without allowing a homer, the longest streak now for starters in the majors. He also improved to 54-23 in day games, a .701 winning percentage, the best among active pitchers. Why’s he so good on the day shift?

“Maybe because the players go out and they don’t have no rest,” Garcia said, smiling. “I don’t know. I love to pitch day games. It’s always been that way.”

*Francisco Cervelli pinch hit for Jeter in the fourth and played two innings at second, his first time there in his career. His one chance resulted in a low throw to second, but he still got the force. Cano moved from DH to second in the seventh.

“(Girardi) told me to get ready and then I started putting my shin guards on and he said, ‘You’re going to play second base.’ I said, ‘Alright,’ ” Cervelli said. “I was surprised, but you just do it.”

*The Yankees finished the homestand 7-3. They are 9-1 now vs. Baltimore.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 699 Comments →

Trade deadline dead ahead07.25.11

The nonwaiver trade deadline is set for 4 p.m. on Sunday, so you have to wonder what the Yankees are going to do. It’s hard to envision Brian Cashman standing pat. 

The Yankees are 59-40 and 5 1/2 up in the wild card. It’s hard to envision them not making the postseason. But they probably could use some reinforcements for October, especially considering their 1-8 record against the Red Sox so far. They trail Boston by three games. They are also just 6-5 since the break.

“As we move toward the trade deadline, I don’t get too caught up in publicly saying what I think we need or don’t need because we have to win with the guys in the room,” Joe Girardi said. “And that’s what we’ve been doing. You can’t say you wish you can go get this guy or that guy because it takes two teams to trade and a lot of times it doesn’t happen.”

It’s hard to argue with the overall body of work Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia have provided this season. Phil Hughes does make you wonder sometimes, though, like he did with Friday’s start. A.J. Burnett has generally kept the Yankees in games and probably should be better than just 8-8. Do they need to acquire another quality starter behind CC Sabathia even if the cost is tremendous? Do you want Ubaldo Jimenez or Wandy Rodriguez here?

And should they bring in another righty bat considering Andruw Jones is at just .218 and Jorge Posada is at .118 from the right side and .223 overall?

What do you think?

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 327 Comments →

Pregame notes: Another six to eight weeks for Hughes05.04.11

When the Yankees put Phil Hughes on the disabled list, they technically labeled the injury as “right shoulder inflammation,” but until today, there was no indication that the inflammation was a serious concern. Joe Girardi always referred to it as a dead arm issue, and Hughes himself said time and again that he did not know of any traditional injury.

Turns out, the inflammation might have been a bigger problem than the Yankees ever indicated.

The possibility of thoracic outlet syndrome “was a much bigger concern” according to Brian Cashman, but on April 28, the Yankees gave Hughes a cortisone injection. Either because of that that shot, or maybe because of the extended rest, Hughes is now indicating to the Yankees and their doctors that he feels “110 percent” better, according to Cashman. How exactly he feels better, Cashman couldn’t say, but he said he’s far more optimistic today than he was when Hughes left for St. Louis a few days ago.

“It sounds like he’s in a much better mental place, so we’ll see,” Cashman said. “It doesn’t guarantee anything. Ultimately, with where we’re at, the recommendation has been another two weeks of rest and then we’ll get him going. Clearly he’ll have to build his arm strength up again, and that will be that true test if we’re through the woods.”

Cashman guessed that Hughes is six to eight weeks away from rejoining the Yankees rotation. Dr. Ahmad has recommended that Hughes rest for two more weeks before beginning a throwing program. There are no further tests planned.

“Hopefully this is just a bump in the road,” Cashman said.

• Highlight of my day at Comerica: Girardi was asked whether Mariano Rivera would be available today. “He was a little upset when we said he was off duty yesterday,” Girardi said. “So I think he’d probably want to strangle me if I told him he was off today.”

At that point, someone noticed Rivera was stretching right in front of us and suggested Girardi tell him — as a joke — that he would not pitch tonight. Girardi stood up, yelled “Hey Mo” and gave him a thumbs up.

Then Girardi slowly turned it to a thumbs down, indicating Rivera was down for tonight’s game. The look on Rivera’s face was positively murderous. I mean it. One of the kindest, classiest men in all of baseball, and Rivera looked like he would rip Girardi’s face off.

So, yeah, Rivera’s available tonight.

• Regular day off for Russell Martin. He’ll “probably” get another day off this weekend in Texas.

• Girardi is obviously encouraged by the way Brett Gardner is hitting and reaching base lately, but there are no plans to move him back into the leadoff spot at this time. “We always discuss our lineup,” Girardi said. “We discuss different ideas every day. Is that something that I have a plan to do? No, not really.”

• Francisco Cervelli hasn’t had much time with Freddy Garcia, but Girardi gave Cervelli advance notice that he’d be catching tonight’s game. “I told Cervi to watch his last couple of starts and see what he’s doing so he would have a better understanding,” Girardi said. “He doesn’t have much of a history, but you hope the learning curve would be pretty quick.”

• Victor Martinez is off the Tigers disabled list and batting fifth behind Miguel Cabrera. Does that change the way the Yankees approach Cabrera? “I think you look at the score, the time of the game, the situation,” Girardi said. “You have to remember, you have one guy that’s been down for a while, too, and none of us really know how Victor’s swinging. But we know how Miguel’s swinging.”

• Eduardo Nunez went through extensive fielding drills before tonight’s game. Girardi said those drills were planned for yesterday but the session was rained out.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 69 Comments →

Pregame notes: “We’re hoping it’s not the case”04.28.11

Brian Cashman said it was a “slight positive in that particular testing” that led the Yankees to believe Phil Hughes might have thoracic outlet syndrome. Cashman referenced the show House, and said this is one step to “peel the onion” and find out what’s wrong. If Monday’s visit to St. Louis tells the Yankees that Hughes does not have TOS, then they’ll try to find what’s next.

“This is what we’re focused on at this point,” Cashman said. “We’re hoping it’s not the case. I’ll hope until we hear otherwise that it’s not the case. If it is, it will be taken care of. If it isn’t, we’ll take a sigh of relief and say, ‘Well, that’s good.’”

Dr. Robert William Thompson is being asked to specifically say yes or no to thoracic outlet syndrome. He’s not necessarily being asked to check for anything else. Cashman said he hasn’t looked too far into the recovery for the condition, but he believes a positive diagnosis would be season-ending for Hughes.

“I think it be a long-term thing,” Cashman said. “I’ve heard typically that’s what it is, that a surgery would be involved and I’d suspect it would be the season… It’s not something where it’s, ‘Take some aspirin and shut it down for a week.’”

If Hughes is lost for the year, Cashman said that changes nothing about his current pursuit of additional pitching.

“There’s no starting pitcher to go find,” Cashman said. “Everything we have to deal with is right here in front of us. After the June draft is when you have a chance to go get stuff.”

Here’s Cashman addressing a huge group of reporters in the Yankees clubhouse.

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• The tarp came off the field about 15 minutes ago. The sky has cleared considerably and it’s starting to feel like the game might actually start on time.

• Cashman on Mark Teixeira’s right shoulder injury: “Right now, my medical team doesn’t seem to be overly alarmed so I won’t be.”

• Joe Girardi said he could, in theory, use Teixeira in the field, but he doesn’t plan to do so. In fact, he hinted that Teixeira might get more than one game off. “The best thing to me is to rest him a couple of days and try to get him healthy,” Girardi said.

• Derek Jeter is getting a regular day off. The Yankees decided on Monday that today would be Jeter’s day to rest. Girardi said Jeter might get another day off during the upcoming road trip. “In the long run I guess it’s beneficial,” Jeter said. “But I always like to play.”

• Jeter’s replacement, Eduardo Nunez, jammed his thumb on his glove hand. He had his left hand lightly wrapped this afternoon, but he said it’s no problem. “I’m good,” Nunez said.

• Girardi on hitting Robinson Cano third: “I think you could hit Robbie anywhere in the order that you want. With him swinging the bat so well, you try to get him as many at-bats as you can.”

• Girardi on using Eric Chavez at first: “I got comfortable with him at first base during spring training, just watching him play the position and feeling like that he could handle it and have no issues with it.”

• Kevin Millwood is starting for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tonight. It will be his final start before his out kicks in on Sunday. Cashman would not comment on his reports about how Millwood has been pitching. “We’ll inform Kevin what our intentions are,” Cashman said. “If we choose not to bring him, he’ll have a decision whether he wants to opt out or not. If we choose to bring him, we’ll bring him.”

• Dave Robertson grew up just a few miles from the tornado destruction in Tuscaloosa, Ala. He said he couldn’t even recognize some of the places that have been shown on television in the past 24 hours or so, and these are places he used to drive by every day. That said, all of his family is OK, and his best friend’s house survived, despite a tornado ripping through his street. As someone who grew up in a tornado-heavy area, I can tell you this stuff is terrifying. Robertson seemed shaken but clearly relieved that he’s so far heard nothing but good news about the people he knows.

WHITE SOX
Brent Lillibridge LF
Alexei Ramirez SS
Carlos Quentin RF
Paul Konerko 1B
Adam Dunn DH
Alex Rios CF
Ramon Castro C
Gordon Beckham 2B
Brent Morel 3B

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 37 Comments →

The same old conversation (one more time)02.16.11

I know the Joba Chamberlain starter-vs-reliever debate has gotten old, but I also know plenty of people still have questions about the decision, and both Brian Cashman and Chamberlain talked about it today. Here are a few of their comments about the situation.

Brian Cashman

On whether there have been mechanical changes since Chamberlain’s shoulder injury:
“He’s always had trouble repeating his delivery. That was prior to the Texas issue, that’s always been an issue for him. I wouldn’t trace any mechanical changes to what took place in Texas.”

On vcelocity changes since the shoulder injury:
“He used to throw 95-plus from pitch one as a starter. He doesn’t do that now. But he can do that out of the bullpen. And that also happens with the evolution of players regardless. Some guys come out of the minor leagues throwing gas, and eventually in their mid 20s start to settle in, and their stuff backs off over time. It could be that too.”

On initially keeping him as a starter after the injury:
“The velocity was down. People were asking questions. Joe would have meetings with him. Is he pacing himself? Is he saving his bullets? Never had those conversations before. If you’re saving your bullets, don’t. You’ve got to empty the tank, right from inning one. He would try, but it just wasn’t there. At some point, you accept it. This is what you see out of the rotation, this is what you see out of the bullpen. They’re radically different. It used to be the same out of the rotation and the bullpen. It played the same. Now when you scout him it’s not. It’s radically different out of the bullpen.”

Joba Chamberlain

On whether he’s felt the same since the shoulder injury:
“I’ve never been in the same spot so I’m always trying to figure out what works for me, making the adjustments on the fly. I’ve had to learn to pitch in the big leagues. I’m trying to make adjustments but still trying to get outs. This is the first year where I’ve had the opportunity to look back at the times I’ve been in the bullpen, the times I’ve been a starter, to know the whole year that’s where I’m going to be. I just took bits and pieces that were effective for me from the years before. The shoulder was never an issue, so I was never worried about that, I was never worried about, health-wise, anything on that.”

What does it mean to be built for the bullpen?
“I have no idea. I don’t know what that means. That’s a question you’d have to ask him. Everybody’s perception is different of what they feel. That’s a question for him (Cashman).”

Is there frustration in being assigned this role?
“No. I’m still fighting for a job on this team. Like I said, I don’t care what it is. If they feel like I’m a better fit to help us win in the bullpen, I’m not going to sit here and argue and stomp my feet like a little kid and pout about it. I’ve got the opportunity to win a job and help us have one of the best bullpens in baseball. I’ve got to take that and not worry about what the other stuff is.”

Cashman spoke outside, so the audio is pretty shaky. Here’s Chamberlain, though. He talks about both the bullpen assignment and the weight issue.

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Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Podcastwith 613 Comments →

Pinch hitting: Dan Hanzus02.09.11

Our next Pinch Hitter, Dan Hanzus, is a Rockland County native and current “Los Angeleno” who has been writing his Yankees blog, River & Sunset, since 2008. Dan admits that he, “sometimes looks up at the night sky and wonders if Shelley Duncan is gazing at the same star.” My guess is there’s a 50-50 chance.

This is Dan’s third entry to the LoHud Pinch Hitter series. He wrote about Derek Jeter back in 2009 and Donnie Baseball in 2010. This year he tackled the subject of Brian Cashman’s contract year.

——

Sometimes I wonder if Brian Cashman woke up one morning and decided he just didn’t care what you thought about him anymore.

In an offseason during which Cliff Lee dissed him, ownership undercut him, and Andy Pettitte Brett Favred him, Cashman has remained unflappable, disconnected even. Some in his position would’ve developed a facial tick from the stress by now. Cashman? He dresses up like an elf and shimmies down a building. He serves pints of Guinness in a Corey Haim wig. He makes half-hearted contract offers to Carl Pavano just to see if the internet can explode from snark.

It reminds me of Office Space, when the restless and disgruntled Peter Gibbons decides the way to escape the monotony of his droll life is to revolt against the system that shackles him. He accomplishes this by barely showing up for work, defying his superiors, and occasionally gutting a trout in his cubicle. In the movie, Peter’s blunt insubordination is rewarded with a promotion by corporate lunkheads who mistake his disobedience for leadership.

Could Cashman be banking on the same result?

If Cashman is restless, perhaps it’s understandable. The 43-year-old has been the general manager of the Yankees for 13 years. That’s a long time to be a manager at The Gap, let alone a chief cabinet member for the most successful sports franchise in America. With The Boss gone and the organization in a controlled state of flux, Cashman — consciously or not — may be testing the limits of how entrenched he really is.

The job he’s done in that time continues to be a lightning rod of debate in Yankee Universe. Supporters say he’s a smart, hard-working executive who has earned the respect of colleagues around the game. Detractors believe he was simply along for the ride during the dynasty run, a poor talent evaluator, and was directly responsible for the team’s title drought last decade.

Wherever you stand, most will agree that no GM works under the same level of expectations. The Boss may be dead, but the Steinbrenner Doctrine — anything short of a championship is considered failure — lives on. Yes, Cashman is armed with the golden checkbook, but he also has the smallest margin of error. Call it a wash.

Cashman is entering the final year of his contract. During his 2005 renegotiation, Cashman demanded, and received, the power to restructure the baseball operations. He said that the dueling factions in New York and Tampa needed to disappear, and they did. For a five-year stretch Cashman was El Hombre, every bit as vital to the Yankees enterprise as A-Rod, Jeter, or Sabathia.

That’s what made the Rafael Soriano signing such an eye-opener. For the first time since he threatened to walk in ’05, Cashman was publicly undermined on a key personnel decision. If Hal Steinbrenner has decided to take a more active role, is there room for both men atop the food chain?

It all makes for great theater as the 2011 season unfolds. By this time next year, we’ll likely know the true alpha dog when it comes to the construction of the Yankees.

(Cut to Hank in his shadowy lair, cigarette dangling, bourbon in hand, black cat on lap: “That’s what you think.”)

Gulp.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Pinch hitterswith 180 Comments →

Cashman: Montero can catch at the big league level01.29.11

In a good question and answer session with Josh Norris, Brian Cashman once again said the Yankees believe Jesus Montero can catch at the big league level. In fact, Cashman said Montero is already better than some of the catchers in the Majors.

“The minor leagues is (where you) work out your problems,” Cashman said, “and he’s certainly closing the gap. He’s not there yet, but he’s pretty damn close. We believe he’s better than some starting catchers, defensively, in the big leagues right now.”

Check out the full interview over at Josh’s Minor Matters blog. Cashman discussed his drafting strategy, his dedication to building a top-rate scouting department and the value of developing talent.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 165 Comments →

Swisher: “I don’t want to leave New York”01.27.11

Nick Swisher was on the Mike Francesa’s radio show this afternoon, professing his love for the Yankees, the Bleacher Creatures and all things New York.

“I don’t want to leave New York,” Swisher said. “This is the place to be. I love it. I absolutely love it… Meeting my wife, and Kevin Long, and the city of New York just completely resurrected my career.”

Coming off the best season of his career, Swisher has stuck with his offseason routine. We already know that Long has been to California to work with Swisher this winter.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Swisher said. “Continuing to do the same thing. Just trying to keep that same mentality. Really trying to stay consistent with something.”

It’s a nice, quick interview that’s available over on the YES Network website. Swisher talks a lot about his transition to New York, his popularity in New York and his upcoming honor at next week’s Thurman Munson dinner. It’s Swisher, so you know it’s entertaining.

A few other notes and links from today.

• Newsday has a cool photo gallery showing some of the oddities of Brian Cashman’s offseason, everything from the Derek Jeter negotiations to the Rafael Soriano press conference to last night’s bartending experience.

• My good friend Bryan Hoch did a nice job wrapping up last night’s bartending event. “I think I’m keeping (the fans) happier right now tending bar than I am in terms of finding a starting rotation that they can be comfortable with,” Cashman said. “But in time, we’ll do that, I promise.”

• Make sure you check out Buster Olney’s take on what the world of Twitter might have looked like with a George Steinbrenner account. My favorite fictional tweet: Mattingly’s hair has gotten so long that he looks like one of the Beatles — one of their girlfriends, I mean.

Vladimir Guerrero’s most logical next step might be a one-year deal with the Orioles. As Ken Rosenthal pointed out, there aren’t many teams still looking for a designated hitter.

The Nationals designated Justin Maxwell for assignment. If the 40-man weren’t full, and the Yankees hadn’t already added Jordan Parraz for outfield depth, I’d suggest Maxwell might be a solid target for the Yankees. He was pretty bad in Washington last year, but Maxwell raked in Triple-A and seemed to be developing into at least a fourth outfielder not too long ago. That said, I’m not sure outfield depth is as much of a concern now as it once was.

• ESPN says that the best unknown high school player in the country is a kid from my hometown (though I went to a different high school). My dad really likes high school basketball, so I’ve actually heard about Otto Porter quite a bit. The last high school kid in that area to create this sort of buzz was probably Tyler Hansbrough.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 155 Comments →

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