Yankees pregame: Old-Timers’ Day • 06.22.14
There are three first-time Old-Timers here today, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and John Montefusco.
Matsui said through his old interpreter Roger Kahlon that he’s basically relaxing and enjoying retirement. So Matsui was naturally asked what advice he would give the retiring Derek Jeter.
“He’s got to find a wife, first and foremost,” Matsui said.
Joe Torre is here today and he’s bound for the Hall of Fame next month. He acknowledged Jeter’s role.
“I wouldn’t be going to have a Hall of Fame speech unless he was here,” Torre said.
“It’s something that hasn’t really settled in for me yet.”
The introductions are going on now. Then comes the Goose Gossage plaque ceremony, then the Old-Timers’ Game, then Tanaka time.
As for the current team, Joe Girardi again sounded down on the idea of moving Adam Warren into the rotation to replace Vidal Nuno.
“In a sense, you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Girardi said. “Whereas Warren has been able to help us twice out of every five days, you’re only going to get one start every five days. He’s been extremely important to our success in the bullpen. I know he’s been talked about a lot, but our rotation is what it is.”
Michael Pineda is still sticking to his dirt story to explain that shiny spot on the palm of his hand during Thursday night’s brilliant start against the Red Sox. The picture above is from the first inning. Joe Torre plans on speaking to the Yankees about it, though, since the speculation was that it was pine tar to improve his grip on the ball, a foreign substance that’s supposed to be a no-no.
Pineda said he put dirt on his hand because it was sweaty. But even if it were pine tar, Pineda doesn’t have to worry about some sort of suspension coming down.
Here’s MLB Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Joe Torre’s statement to the AP:
“The umpires did not observe an application of a foreign substance during the game and the issue was not raised by the Red Sox. Given those circumstances, there are no plans to issue a suspension, but we intend to talk to the Yankees regarding what occurred.”
(Torre did talk to Brian Cashman and Cashman said it’s now “a resolved issue.”)
Joe Girardi said he’s focusing on managing tonight’s game. “As far as the other thing, I have not heard from Joe Torre, and I’m not worried about it,” he said.
Girardi said he did speak to Pineda, but not about this situation.
“I don’t talk to pitchers about that, like, ‘Do you use or don’t you use?’ ” Girardi said. “I mean, this is not a recreational drug. So I don’t talk to people about that.
“I’m aware. I’ve been on teams where I’ve seen it. I’m 99 percent sure that I know of guys on other teams that use it, and I just haven’t said anything. So will we talk to Michael? If we did, I wouldn’t tell you anyway.”
But if using pine tar just helps the grip but doesn’t have an impact on pitch movement, and some believe it doesn’t, should the rule be changed?
“The way we’re addressing rules now, I think we could address that and get some clarity on it,” Girardi said. “It would probably be helpful.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell said the substance was gone from Pineda’s hand for the fifth inning.
“I’m sure every pitcher does it for purposes of getting a better grip or whatever, but last night was flat-out blatant,” Shane Victorino said.
On another topic, Girardi said he expects Mark Teixeira back by May 1, but Cashman wouldn’t commit to that timetable. Cashman said Brendan Ryan wouldn’t be back this month. Ryan has been doing some light baseball activities on the way back from his back problem.
“It’s improving,” Girardi said, “but he’s still a ways away from games.”
Photo by The Associated Press.
Roger Clemens was one famous former Yankee not at Yankee Stadium for Old-Timers’ Day Sunday. Clemens, as we all know, was recently found not guilty of lying to Congress in his denial of using performance-enhancing drugs. He will be on the Hall of Fame ballot later this year, but will the 354-game winner be a Hall of Famer?
“He is to me,” Joe Torre said. “I can’t make other people look at him.”
Torre liked having him on his side with the Yankees, but he knows the stigma on Clemens isn’t going away despite the verdict.
“I’m a little prejudiced on Clemens,” Torre said. “He was like a son to me. Unfortunately the question mark is always going to be there with him.
“It’s something that’s sad for me because Roger Clemens and the way he went about his business — and I disliked him like everybody else until I got a chance to know him. He was a great teammate to these guys. He was very devoted to the team he was playing on, and I always respected that. The closeness, I’ll always have with him. I’m just happy that he’s got a chance to exhale now.”
Willie Randolph said: “Roger, to me, is a great friend, a tremendous warrior. I’d like to see him get back in the game.”
Perhaps the Yankees and Clemens will reconnect at some point, like the team did with Torre and Bernie Williams after they left.
“That’s something that the organization deals with and they determine when the right time is,” Joe Girardi said. “I think as time goes on, they’ll make a decision on what the best thing is to do. But we’ve had a lot of players that have went through difficult times and come back, and they’ve been welcomed back. So I can’t tell you exactly what’s going to happen. But Roger was a great Yankee.”
How do you think fans would react to Clemens if he made a reappearance at Yankee Stadium? And should he be voted into the Hall of Fame?
Yankees pregame: Old-Timers’ Day • 07.01.12
Brian Heyman here for Chad again today. The Yankees from glory days and not-so-glory days are here, too, for Old-Timers’ Day.
There were loud ovations during the ceremony, especially for the usual fan favorites as they trotted out onto the broiling field, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez and Joe Torre. There were the usual loud cheers for the two Hall of Famers who rode in together in the back seat of a cart from center field to behind home plate, 87-year-old Yogi Berra and 83-year-old Whitey Ford. They stayed in the cart and waved. The Old-Timers’ Game is in progress.
“The interesting thing is you get a chance to see a lot of your teammates that you played with and had success,” Joe Girardi said. “And then you always get a chance to see the guys who came before us and had a ton of success. I absolutely love it. … I always like seeing guys that I played with and busting their chops about being Old-Timers. That’s enjoyable to me.”
Girardi reflected about his success here.
“I’ve always thought about my World Series rings as for my kids,” Girardi said. “I made a joke with my wife one day (after) we won the World Series in 1996 and ’98 and we were playing in the playoffs in 1999. I said, ‘That will determine if we have another child or not.’ Sure enough we did. But I’ve got to tell you, I don’t plan on having a fourth one. As a manager, it doesn’t count. But I think the final game in 1996, the first time you have a chance to realize that dream is probably my fondest memory.”
Torre talked about Jeter’s shot at reaching 4,000 hits, seeing it as a long shot. The Captain is at 3,185.
“When people start talking about 4,000, it’s probably out of reach,” Torre said. “But I never question anything this kid has set his mind to, so we’ll see. He has a long way to go. This game is not easy to play on an everyday basis … I don’t think he’s going to hang around for a personal record unless he’s able to contribute to his team doing well.”
A-Rod is not in the lineup today, but it’s just a day off.
“We’re going to go to three days on turf (at Tampa Bay), and then we’re going to have a day off and we have a split doubleheader (in Boston) on Saturday,” Girardi said. “So I’m doing what I can to keep him fresh and trying to be cognizant of the other guys as well.”
Girardi hopes that CC Sabathia will play catch this week with the Yankees on the road.
Monday night notes and links • 06.27.11
I have very few absolute rules in life, but one of them is this: If the AP has a cool picture of Yogi Berra and Don Larsen together in the Yankees dugout on Old Timers’ Day, I should find a place for it on the blog.
So, as we’re wrapping up the Yankees final off day until the all-star break, we’ll start with a picture of the catcher and pitcher together again.
Naturally, the return of Joe Torre grabbed the headlines today. Some of Torre’s history might be tainted, but in the end, I think John Harper’s column today was right on the money: Whatever your take on Torre’s book, it’s silly to ignore his place in the franchise’s history. I think it’s possible to be disappointed in the book, but still celebrate the legacy. That seems to be what the Yankees did in inviting Torre to yesterday’s event.
Anyway, here are few more notes and links for the day. The Yankees get back on the field tomorrow against the Brewers.
• Back in Scranton, my old darts playing partner Marty Myers caught up with the one-armed military veteran who made a highlight catch at Yankee Stadium on Friday night. Michael Kacer is from the Scranton area, lost his left arm in a rocket attack in Afghanastan and made a now famous leaning catch with his cap. Great story.
• Here’s a really nice read about Eduardo Nunez’s role on the Yankees and his part in Sunday’s win. It’s written by one of the finest writers and reporters I know.
• Dante Bichette Jr. is getting the full Yankees experience down in Tampa. He seems to be enjoying working alongside Derek Jeter.
• Over at Baseball Prospectus, Jay Jaffe looked at the Yankees struggles against pitchers they’ve never seen. It’s not as much of a problem this year as it was last year.
• River Ave. Blues looked ahead to the 40-man spots that could open when injured Yankees come off the disabled list. I tend to agree with their list. I’d put Buddy Carlyle, Kanekoa Texeira and Brian Gordon at the top of the list of guys who could be removed to open a spot, though Gordon could certainly pitch his way into sticking around as a long man.
• This one’s a few days old, but with Derek Jeter taking some swings today, it seems to apply: The Hardball Times looked at other players — like Jeter — who have experienced an extended wait while on the verge of a major milestone.
• In the final NL voting update before the all-star rosters are announced, Rickie Weeks has moved ahead of Brandon Phillips in the race for second base.
• I failed to mention it until now, but the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center reopened last week after being closed for nearly a year for extensive renovations.
Associated Press photos
Phil Hughes said this start was a lot like his previous start. The home run he allowed was on a flat cutter, his fastball command took another step forward and his changeup was inconsistent but effective. He called the outing a step in the right direction.
“The changeup was not great tonight,” he said. “But I threw a couple of quality ones and I just have to be sure that I continue to use it and not fall into that pattern that I did last year.”
For Hughes, the changeup is old news, but it’s also an ongoing situation. Hughes was happy with the changeup when he left camp last spring, then he neglected to use it through the first half of the regular season. This spring he hasn’t been quite as thrilled with the pitch, but he said he’s more committed to using it. He’s seen enough results to know it can be effective.
“I’m going to (throw it) just because I’m going to force myself to,” Hughes said. “Last year I didn’t do that. It might not have been outstanding today, but I’ll have days when it’s good. I saw some results tonight on it. The few I did throw to neutralize those bats that really got to me last year, Joyce and Johnson stand out, those are two guys that really hurt me because they were sitting on fastballs.”
Oddly enough, Joe Girardi singled out the changeup as one of the things he liked about Hughes outing.
“I know people harp on that changeup a lot,” Girardi said. “But he had it at the end of last year and it’s just a continuation.”
• Joe Torre said his return to Steinbrenner Field was a trip he’d been looking forward to making, and it was made more comfortable by the fact he returned to Yankee Stadium last season. “I don’t think the emotion will ever go out of it because of what these 12 years meant to me that I spent here,” he said. “But it’s not sad by any stretch of the imagination; it was a great run. You cant appreciate the good times unless there were some bumps along the way. I wouldn’t change a thing. The last three years were stressful, but that’s all part of it.”
• Torre has been invited to Old Timers’ Day and he plans to attend, which means he’ll be back in pinstripes this year. “Whatever (uniform) they give me,” he said. “As long as they don’t ask me to play, it’s okay. I never did that in a Yankee uniform.”
• I didn’t see it, but the word around the stadium was that Yogi Berra tripped again today, only this time he was caught by Rays manager Joe Maddon. Berra is fine.
• Alex Rodriguez has a home run in three straight games, and he has a hit in each of his 11 games this spring. He’s batting .406.
• Nick Swisher’s go-ahead home run in the seventh inning was only his second extra-base hit of the spring. He’s had more at-bats than anyone else in Yankees camp. The Yankees got the win, 3-2.
• Hughes said he wasn’t too down on himself for the first-inning run. He jammed Johnny Damon, who fought off a single, then Hughes thought he struck out Evan Longoria on a 2-2 fastball but he didn’t get the call. “That run I can get out of my head a little easier than a cutter that was flat and just a bad pitch 0-2,” he said.
• Appearing in a game for the first time since March 4, left-handed reliever Boone Logan allowed two hits but ultimately pitched a scoreless seventh inning. The Yankees had his velocity up to 92-93 mph, a nice step forward from his earlier spring outings. “Sometimes that little extra rest in this period is good for guys,” Girardi said.
• Speaking of Logan: He faced four lefties, striking out Matt Joyce and John Jaso, getting Dan Johnson to fly out and getting Reid Brignac to hit a ground ball to second that went for an infield single.
• The Yankees had only three hits tonight, but two were home runs. The third was a triple by Curtis Granderson, who was left stranded. Of the Yankees five base runners — Robinson Cano walked twice — three scored.
• Joba Chamberlain came through this morning’s throwing just fine and will likely throw a bullpen this weekend. That’s the plan right now, anyway. “See how he feels tomorrow, but today was good,” Girardi said.
• Everything is still on track for Sergio Mitre to pitch tomorrow. He felt fine after yesterday’s bullpen. “It feels like it’s been a long time,” Mitre said.
• Romulo Sanchez has hard-to-hit stuff, but his command is erratic. Tonight he walked three in two-thirds of an inning, but Steve Garrison bailed him out with the final out of the eighth. Luis Ayala pitched the ninth for the save.
Associated Press photos, the one in the middle is of Berra and Girardi with Don Zimmer, at the top is Swisher signing autographs. That’s Hughes at the bottom. And I have no idea why I labeled them in that order, but I’m sticking with it.
Saturday notes and links • 01.08.11
Yesterday, Brian Cashman said he’s not willing to lose a first-round draft pick to sign any free agent still on the market. However, Jon Heyman reported today that he’s hearing that the Yankees are still in the mix for Rafael Soriano. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Some other links and notes from the day:
• The Daily News is reporting that Joe Torre is in talks to become Major League Baseball’s executive vice president of operations. Doubt anyone will be especially surprised to see Torre end up in the league’s front office.
• Following a report that the Yankees have started talking with Andruw Jones, The Yankee U — can’t use the word Universe — looked into Jones’ value as a Marcus Thames replacement. Jones has become a very Thames-like hitter, but with a better glove.
• Here’s an interesting quote from Lance Berkman about his time with the Yankees. It comes from several months ago, when the season was still going on. It’s easy to understand why Berkman wanted to get back to the National League. He didn’t enjoy the DH experience.
• Dave Cameron makes the case that the Rays trade of Matt Garza might make them better, not only in the future, but in the immediate here and now. This Marc Topkin report seems to support that theory: The Rays will spend that money they saved on Garza to boost the lineup and bullpen.
• This morning I wrote that the George Steinbrenner statue in Tampa is made of brass. It’s actually made of bronze. I actually remember double checking the article to make sure I had that it correct, and I apparently I still managed to read the word “bronze” and see the word “brass.” Strange. Sorry about that.
An unusual feeling • 11.12.10
It may only be a technicality but for Derek Jeter, the past few days have meant facing a strange reality: He’s not a Yankee right now. Actually, if we’re being official about it, he’s unemployed.
“I think my parents were joking about it, earlier today,” Jeter told the media last night at Joe Torre’s “Safe At Home” gala. “My grandmother said I have no job, so then you think about it. But really, it doesn’t feel like there’s anything different, if I’m just telling you how I feel. I understand that there are negotiations that are going to come and those types of things, but for me personally, I don’t feel any different.”
Jeter confirmed that he and the Yankees had a meeting earlier this week in Florida, though he said the subject of a position change down the road didn’t come up. Ultimately, as Brian Cashman said, “I think we both want the future to be in pinstripes,” and there seems to be little doubt that Jeter will sign a new deal soon.
Until then, he’s out of work, though somehow I don’t think the Yankees are going to change the locks on him or anything.
* That’s an AP shot of the newest member of the American unemployed.
Jeter: “I wasn’t even looking over there” • 06.26.10
Whether you liked it or not, it was inevitable that last night’s game would be all about the reunion of Joe Torre and the Yankees. There were a hundred story angles — and an off day when there was little else to write about — and every angle was covered a hundred ways. At some point, though, last night’s game was about baseball.
“Pretty much the novelty wore out,” Derek Jeter said. “I wasn’t even looking over there.”
For the most part, that’s the way it will be today and Sunday (except for the obvious Andy Pettitte stories in the finale). Joe Girardi said last night’s game began feeling like any other game as soon as batting practice ended.
The only exception was the exchanging of lineup cards. Girardi rarely goes to the plate to swap lineups, but he went last night, a decision orchestrated by Torre.
“He made a funny comment that I don’t care to share,” Girardi said. “But it got a chuckle out of me.”
From that moment on, it was about the game. It was about CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera, with Torre being little more than a background character.
“You have to think about the game,” Jorge Posada said. “Try to think about how you’re going to get the guys out. I didn’t want to look over there.”
Associated Press photo of Girardi and Torre exchanging lineup cards.
After Joe Torre answered two questions about the Dodgers this afternoon, a Los Angeles reporter looked at the group of writers huddled in the dugout and said, “It looks like you have some old friends here.”
“Who told you that?” Torre said. “Them?”
The Yankees are playing in northern Los Angeles tomorrow, but tonight most of the Yankees beat writers are in Anaheim. Early morning flights from Phoenix, early afternoons spent stuck in L.A. traffic and finally a few minutes with Torre, who began quickly joking with the reporters he knew so well in New York.
“The odd thing for me is I’m going to be over there in that dugout pulling against people I’ve never pulled against before,” he said. “That’s the weird part. I’m sure the competitiveness comes out and you probably won’t think about it as much then as I am now.”
Torre said he ate lunch today with Yankees trainers Gene Monahan and Steve Donohue, and with Yankees clubhouse manager Lou Cucuzza. “Some of my old gang,” he said. He expects tomorrow to be emotional for him, at least until the game starts.
“Considering that while I was there we eliminated all of their weaknesses, I’m sorry I did that now,” he joked.
Here’s the audio for most of the interview, 11 minutes or so. Torre talked quite a bit about the book, his relationship with the front office and the impact of moving to Los Angeles.
“The thing that gets me is last year, I’m watching the World Series, and not one minute did I wish I was in the dugout to be honest with you,” he said. “It was great and I did it a lot of times, but that was enough.”