Report: Red Sox claim Johnny Damon • 08.23.10
Jon Heyman is reporting that the Red Sox have claimed Johnny Damon off waivers from the Tigers. Boston obviously needs some help in the outfield with Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron out of the mix. We’ll have to wait to find out if some sort of deal is worked out to actually send Damon back to Boston.
Damon: “I know what kind of player I am” • 05.11.10
After last night’s game, Johnny Damon spoke like a guy who’s proud of his new team, and wants to help it reach the status of his old team.
“We need to do certain things so we’re able to measure how good our team is,” Damon said. “We know we’re good, but we want to be great. Everybody in here wants to be great. Today was a good step, but we have them for three more days, and we know what the Yankees are all about.”
Let there be no doubt, Damon has been good this year. He remains a productive big league hitter, and at 36 years old, he’s played every one of the Tigers games this season. He seems even more productive compared to the players who replaced him with the Yankees. Damon, of course, took the high road, saying he takes no pleasure in sticking it to his old team.
“I’m not that kind of person to ever do that,” he said. “I know what kind of player I am, what I was and what I can be still. I never look at it that way. I just keep going about my business and keep trying to play the game hard, and keep trying to play the game the right way.”
Here’s Damon’s pregame interview from yesterday. Pretty good stuff from him, including the fact that he occasionally wears both his Yankees World Series ring and his Red Sox World Series ring at the same time. “Not too many people can do it,” he said.
Postgame notes: Yankees let one get away • 05.10.10
The Yankees had some chances tonight in Detroit.
They loaded the bases in the sixth but couldn’t score a run. They loaded the bases with no outs in the eight, but could only score twice to pull within one. They had their second, third and fourth hitters at the plate in the ninth, but all three struck out.
“They pitched well,” Derek Jeter said. “They made some big pitches. They have some guys in their bullpen who throw pretty hard and get out of some jams.”
Of course, it was hard to ignore all of the former Yankees who played a key role for the Tigers. Austin Jackson drove in a run with a ground out in the third, Johnny Damon went deep off Sergio Mitre in the fourth, and Phil Coke made some huge pitches to help limit the damage in that almost-go-ahead eighth.
“Johnny, he likes playing in games like this,” Jeter said. “I’m sure he’s probably feeling pretty good over on the other side. We’ve seen him do against us on the other side. We’ve seen him do it for us. It’s really not surprising.”
We’ll go with the Joe Girardi postgame audio tonight. Truth is, none of the Yankees had much to say.
• The play of the game was obviously Magglio Ordonez’s sliding catch in the eighth. Girardi said he thought it was a double off the bat, but as the ball got into the outfield and he saw where Ordonez was positioned, he knew it would be caught. “I don’t really look where people are playing when I’m hitting, but he made a good catch,” Jeter said. “He was positioned perfectly.”
• Two offensive bright spots for the Yankees: Two more hits for Alex Rodriguez and another home run for Mark Teixeira who has become his productive self this month. “He’s swinging the bat great,” Girardi said. “He lined out again tonight too. It looks like it’s really starting to turn for him.”
• Two pitching bright spots: An overwhelming inning from Joba Chamberlain and five outs from Dave Robertson, who had to pitch around a botched fly ball — Brett Gardner simply never saw it — to get out of a jam. “Robby did a good job,” Girardi said. “He threw the ball well. Maybe that’s what gets him going.”
• I’m sure people are upset about the Randy Winn at-bat in the eighth. He swung at a 2-0 pitch against a pitcher who had been wild, but Girardi had no problem with the decision. “You’re looking for a ball up and he got a ball up,” Girardi said. “It was maybe just a little too up. You’re looking to hit a sac fly so you’re not looking for a ball down, you’re looking for a ball up in the zone. He just didn’t get on top of it enough.”
• Big-time ninth inning by Jose Valverde, who got Swisher and Teixeira on splitfingers, then went after Rodriguez with high-90s fastballs.
• Sergio Mitre got a lot of ground balls today, and both Girardi and Mitre seemed fairly happy with his execution of pitches, just not the results. “That’s pretty much what I’m supposed to do,” Mitre said. “Keep the ball down. Sink the ball. Get ground balls. First and second innings, I got my ground balls, they just found holes.” The home run by Damon was a mistake pitch, the only none single he allowed.
• Ivan Nova got to Detroit in time for the game, but Girardi didn’t want to hand him a two-run game in his major league debut. “Because it’s close,” Girardi said. “It’s a close ballgame. Serge gave us some innings and Nova is a guy who can give us 100 pitches, 110 pitches. I felt that the bullpen could keep it close and we’d have a chance to win. It’s not that I’m afraid to use Nova in a tough situation, but he’s not used to coming in in the middle of an inning, so I went to Robby.”
• Girardi said he’ll check with Brian Cashman to determine whether the Yankees need to make yet another player move tomorrow.
• We’ll let Damon have the last word tonight: “I always have fire. Always trying to beat the other team. Old teammates or whatnot. I’m just proud of our guys. Our bullpen is our glue on this team right now. We played solid baseball and against a team that was ready. Even though they got in at 4 in the morning, those guys know how to get ready for a ballgame and they just about pulled this one off tonight.”
Associated Press photos.
Chan Ho Park is closer than ever to returning to the Yankees bullpen.
Park threw a 45-pitch bullpen session today and will make a rehab appearance in extended spring training on Wednesday. That outing will determine how quickly Park returns to the big league bullpen.
“He might get two (rehab games),” Joe Girardi said. “We’ll make a judgment after Wednesday.”
Park has been out since April 14 with a strained right hamstring. The Yankees initially expected him back sooner than this, but it’s taken longer than expected to get back to normal.
Girardi said the Yankees are content with leaving Park in extended spring for all of his rehab. They only need him to pitch, they don’t need him to face advanced hitters.
• Ivan Nova is active, but he’s not supposed to arrive in Detroit until just before game time. “Get your uni on and get down there,” Girardi said. Romulo Sanchez has been optioned back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but he’s still with the big league club for the day so that he can go through his normal routine.
• Alfredo Aceves said his back feels much better today. “Here in Detroit, they have pretty good beds,” he said. Aceves is going to throw off flat ground before tonight’s game. Girardi said he hopes to have Aceves back tomorrow, but he won’t completely rule out using him tonight.
• Girardi on the fact Mariano Rivera hasn’t been used in 10 days: “I’m not too worried about it because he doesn’t have two or three pitches that he needs to mix in.”
• Four innings is a reasonable expectation for Sergio Mitre tonight. “I would love five innings,” Girardi said. “You might see me do a cartwheel for the second time in my life.”
• Javier Vazquez is looking forward to a chance to pitch again tomorrow and said it feels like a month since he was last in a game. Since his last start he’s thrown two bullpens, each of them longer and more intense than most of his between-starts bullpen sessions. Vazquez said he feels good, but he’ll need to see results before he knows his problems have been corrected.
• Johnny Damon is sporting a mohawk. When someone told him he looks like Nick Swisher, Damon laughed. “Don’t say that please,” Damon said. “He’s been trying to copy me all these years.” Pretty funny stuff.
• Speaking of Damon, he said he still checks in on his old team. “How an you not?” he said. “They’re doing well.”
• Kevin Russo and Austin Jackson had lockers next to one another last year in Scranton and they’ve been close friends since High-A. Russo tried to trick Jackson this morning, texting and pretending he hadn’t been called up. He assumed Jackson wouldn’t know and he’d be able to surprise him at the ballpark. Turns out, Jackson’s parents told him Russo had been called to New York, and Jackson watched him on ESPN’s Sunday night baseball. “He said, ‘I saw you playing last night!'” Russo said.
Associated Press photos
Old friends • 05.10.10
Looks like Johnny Damon brought a little bit of New York with him to Detroit. The picture above is from his walk-off home run against the Angels on May 1. It’s Damon’s only home run of the season, but he also has 10 doubles, a .294 batting average and more walks than strikeouts. He’ll meet his old teammates when the Yankees and Tigers begin a four-game series tonight.
“I think it’s always good to see guys that you play with, guys that you manage,” Joe Girardi said. “That’s always a good thing. The Tigers have been playing pretty well, so we have four tough games there, but it will be good to see Johnny. I’m sure there will be some laughs.”
The Yankees will also see their former left-handed reliever Phil Coke, who’s 3-0 with a 1.76 ERA through 16 games out of the Tigers bullpen. And they’ll be facing former top prospect Austin Jackson, who’s hitting .371, getting enough hits to more than make up for his 37 strikeouts.
“We always thought he was a talented player and I had seen a lot of progress in the two spring trainings that I had seen him, 2008 and 2009,” Girardi said. “I don’t think you ever predict that someone is going to hit .370. It just doesn’t happen, but he’s played great for Detroit.”
The series will be a homecoming for Yankees left fielder Marcus Thames, but Curtis Granderson isn’t on this road trip, having stayed in New York because of his strained groin.
Today in The Journal News • 03.29.10
Just when it seemed Joba Chamberlain had answered every question about his move to the bullpen, the old debate fired up against on Sunday and became the center of attention in Yankees camp.
The story also has some notes on Andy Pettitte’s rain-filled spring training, Johnny Damon’s return to George M. Steinbrenner Field and an actor in pinstripes.
Speaking of Damon, there are some more pictures of his return to Tampa in this online gallery.
Old friends • 03.28.10
I was going to go with some Simon and Garfunkel lyrics at the top of this post, but that seemed to be a bit much. Instead, we’ll go with just a few more Associated Press photos and a one picture from reader Mike Howells of Johnny Damon’s return to Yankees camp.
First, some late night links, then the pictures.
• Brett Gardner was profiled by College of Charleston Magazine. The story includes a cool picture of Gardner standing on the deck of the USS Yorktown.
• If the Pirates carry seven relievers on Opening Day, Jeff Karstens is one of the pitchers with a chance to crack the roster.
• Shelley Duncan has been sent to Indians minor league camp. An elbow injury kept him from getting many early at-bats with Cleveland.
• Mike Dunn has also been sent to minor league camp. The Braves optioned him to Triple-A with a 1.42 ERA but also more than a walk per inning in big league camp.
• Speaking of the Braves, Melky Cabrera leads the team in at-bats and is hitting .264/.339/.340 this spring.
Notes from Sunday • 03.28.10
Chad Gaudin has reportedly signed with the Oakland A’s. The Yankees second road trip of the year goes through Oakland, so they could see Gaudin pretty quickly. And now… the best example yet of how little spring training wins matter:
That’s Eduardo Nunez in the AP picture on the right. He’s sprinting back to first base after turning around to run past Robinson Cano, who had just doubled. Cano’s base hit was called an out by third-base umpire Marty Foster, and that sent Nunez on his dash for first.
In the end, the umpires realized their mistake. As something of a compromise, they credited Cano with a single and put Nunez at second.
“Marty said with the rain he just didn’t see it,” Joe Girardi said. “I just (said), ‘Whatever, let’s just keep moving.’ It’s a judgment call I believe. I said, ‘You can call them both out as far as I’m concerned.’ Just keep going.”
The Yankees didn’t care about scoring the run or getting the hit, they just wanted the game to move forward so Andy Pettitte could get back on the mound.
• Here’s an AP shot of Johnny Damon’s first at-bat this afternoon.
• The Yankees plan on Sergio Mitre pitching more than three innings when he starts a split-squad game on Tuesday. They want to keep him stretched out a little more than the other relievers. If someone gets hurt and the Yankees need an early spot starter, Girardi said it would likely be either Mitre or Alfredo Aceves.
• CC Sabathia will pitch the road split-squad game on Tuesday. “That’s where CC asked to go,” Girardi said. “I said, great, that works out good.”
• Finding a silver lining, Girardi said all the missed games might actually keep Andy Pettitte stronger for the regular season. “Sometimes these things are a blessing in disguise,” he said.
• Damaso Marte, Mariano Rivera and Boone Logan each pitched a scoreless inning before Pettitte got in the game this afternoon. The Yankees were leading 8-0 at the time, having scored six runs in the first inning.
• Pitchers for tomorrow night in Sarasota: Javier Vazquez, Joba Chamberlain, Chan Ho Park, Dave Robertson and Royce Ring.
• Position players not making the trip: Mike Rivera, Jorge Posada, Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher. All of the Yankees infielders will be there.
• Ken Rosenthal previously reported that the Phillies looked into signing Chad Gaudin but decided against it.
Damon returns to face his old teammates • 03.21.10
Johnny Damon is in the Tigers lineup for this afternoon’s game at George M. Steinbrenner Field. He’s playing left field and batting second. Damon didn’t make Detroit’s previous trip to Tampa.
Of course, the weather will have to cooperate for Damon to actually play against his old teammates.
Right now, the tarp is on the field and the forecast says there’s a 60 percent chance of rain at first pitch. There’s an 80 percent chance of rain by 3 p.m.
• Austin Jackson is not in the Tigers lineup, but he is on the travel roster, so we could see him in the later innings. Phil Coke is also scheduled to pitch for Detroit.
• Jason Hirsh and Dustin Moseley have been reassigned to the minor league complex. My guess is that the entire Triple-A rotation is now across the street: Hirsh, Moseley, Zach McAllister, Ivan Nova and Romulo Sanchez.
• Sergio Mitre is tied for fifth in the Grapefruit League in innings pitched (14) ad tied for sixth in strikeouts (also 14). Alfredo Aceves is tied for second in the league with 14.1 innings.
• According to the game notes, Andy Pettitte’s minor league start on Monday will be an intrasquad game: Lower-level minor leaguers vs. upper-level minor leaguers.
• Scheduled to pitch for the Yankees: A.J. Burnett, Mariano Rivera and Phil Hughes.
• Also available to pitch for the Yankees: Zack Segovia, Amaury Sanit and Josh Schmidt (up from the minor league complex).
• Scheduled to play off the bench: C Francisco Cervelli, 1B Juan Miranda, 2B Ramiro Pena, SS Reegie Corona, 3B Brandon Laird, LF Jon Weber, CF Greg Golson, RF David Winfree, DH Austin Romine.
• Cervelli will start the game at DH, then move to catcher.
• Detroit’s scheduled pitchers: RHP Justin Verlander, RHP Joel Zumaya, RHP Jose Valverde, LHP Phil Dumatrait, LHP Phil Coke and RHP Josh Rainwater.
• Detroit’s lineup:
Brandon Inge 3B
Johnny Damon LF
Magglio Ordonez RF
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Carlos Guillen DH
Don Kelly CF
Gerald Laird C
Scott Sizemore 2B
Adam Everett SS
RHP Justin Verlander
Thanks to the AP for the picture.
Some evening potpourri • 03.10.10
• I’ve never quite understood the whole “sign a one-day contract and then retire” thing but that’s what Nomar Garciaparra did today and, according to Johnny Damon, it was a “classy move” by both the Red Sox and Garciaparra. Apparently the wounds from 2004 have healed and, now that he’s retired, we’ll all be seeing Nomar again on ESPN.
When some of us asked Damon which team he would do such a thing with when it came time to retire, he went quiet for a second, then shrugged and said, “I guess my longest tenure is with the Royals – and I haven’t played there in 10 years!”
Amazingly, he’s right – six years in KC, two in Oakland, four in Boston and now four in New York for the well-traveled Johnny.
• Torii Hunter is one of my favorite players – both to watch play and interview – and his overall point about African-American players in baseball is a reasonable one to bring up. It just didn’t come out particularly well, as you can see in this story, and even Hunter knows it.
• Joe Torre is off in Taiwan with part of the Dodgers team so Don Mattingly is the interim manager in Arizona. In an interview this afternoon, Donnie Baseball revealed that the Dodgers have talked with him about eventually becoming Torre’s replacement. Remember when the Yankees were choosing between Mattingly and Joe Girardi? Seems like a long time ago now, doesn’t it?
• Unfortunate situation involving the Rays pitcher David Price today. Seems he was hit on the hand by a shattered maple bat, though he was lucky and will escape needing stitches. “It was more of a scare than anything else,” Price said, according to The AP. “I don’t really remember what happened, to be honest. Tried to make a play on the ball and I guess out of the corner of my eye I saw the bat and just threw my hands up. Could have been a lot worse than what it is right now.”
Joe Maddon said what a lot of people around the game are thinking, likening the maple bat to the Claymore Mine, which was an explosive in use since World War II. Maple bats have shown an incredible propensity toward shattering, and their shards are very, very dangerous. “If we’re going to wait for someone to actually get killed or impaled,” Maddon said, “we’re going to wait way too long. Something has to be done.”
• Finally, Major League Baseball announced PED suspensions for several minor leaguers, including two from the Yankees Dominican Summer League team. Josue Rodriguez and Israel Tolentino will both serve 50-game bans for testing positive.
That’s it for tonight. Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting on a long day. Back at it tomorrow, though the clubhouse won’t open until around 1:30 p.m. because it’s a night game. Check in early and often, though, for a few other items before we get to Yankees-Braves.