The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Yankees decline options on Berkman, Wood, Johnson10.27.10

As expected, the Yankees have declined the option to extend the contracts of Kerry Wood, Lance Berkman and Nick Johnson through next season. All three will become free agents.

Two days ago, Brian Cashman said to expect these moves, and given the money involved, there was never any reason to believe the Yankees would pick up any of the three options.

The Yankees did exercise the option in Andrew Brackman’s contract. That’s more of a paper move than anything, even more obvious than turning down the three veterans. When Brackman signed a Major League contract in 2007, it was a four-year deal with club options for 2011, 2012 and 2013. Barring something shocking, all three of those options will be picked up.

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Yankees unlikely to pick up any player options10.25.10

ph_134268Kerry Wood was terrific during his two and a half months in New York, and the Yankees have the option of bringing him back before he hits the free agent market, but that seems unlikely.

The Yankees have contract options on three players:

• Wood has an $11-million club option.
• Lance Berkman has a $15-million club option.
• Nick Johnson has a $5.75-million mutual option.

It’s unlikely any of the options will be picked up.

“They’re all pretty obvious,” Brian Cashman said. “I have to sit in the office and look at the numbers and stuff like that, but I think, probably, they’re all such large numbers that we wouldn’t be picking up options for anybody off the top of my head. But I have to sit down and go through it and talk to ownership. But my initial thought is they’re all pretty obvious.”

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Pregame notes: Pressure from both sides10.22.10

ALCS Yankees Rangers Baseball

So much has been made of the Yankees reaction to playing an elimination game, but Joe Girardi said this afternoon that there’s also something to be said for a team trying to close out a series.

“I think there’s anxiety about it more than anything else,” Girardi said. “You feel how close you are and you want to get to that next round.”

Yesterday, Alex Rodriguez said one thing he remembers about 2004 — when the Yankees let the Red Sox make an ALCS comeback — was a feeling, even before Game 7, that the Yankees weren’t doing a good enough job closing out the series.

“We never wanted it to get to a Game 6 or a Game 7,” Rodriguez said.

Obviously there’s pressure on the Yankees, but the Rangers aren’t exactly playing with house money as it’s often portrayed. Game 7 — Cliff Lee or no Cliff Lee — is a dangerous situation for either team.

“I don’t know about momentum,” Rodriguez said. “But I did like the energy we played with (in Game 5). I thought we were enthused. There was a lot of energy. Good at-bats. I thought Jorge’s play going first to third was huge for us. It made them make a play that was probably a little uncomfortable and a bit unorthodox and it worked in our favor. I think for us, we just have to keep pushing the envelope.

“We’re here to fight, not receive any blows.”

ALCS Yankees Rangers Baseball• Based on whatever pregame reports he heard, Girardi doesn’t expect rain to be a factor tonight. “I don’t think it’s supposed to rain,” he said. “Texas thunderstorms are brief and hard anyway.”

• Girardi said he never seriously considered anyone but Marcus Thames at DH for tonight. “Marcus has been the guy that has DHed for us a lot,” Girardi said. “We have seen Marcus hit well off right-handers and left-handers, so Marcus was our guy.”

• The only pitcher not in the bullpen for tonight’s game is Andy Pettitte, and Girardi said it’s not completely off the table that Pettitte might go down there at some point. Of course, that would require a pretty extreme situation.

• Any hurt feelings by sending starters into the bullpen this time of year? “I don’t think so,” Girardi said. “I think everyone understands CC’s talent level, and the starters that are at this level this time of year are extremely talented. (Roy) Oswalt threw out of the bullpen (in the NLCS). I don’t think that was a slap on the Phillies bullpen. He’s a pretty darn good pitcher.”

• It’s worth noting that if CC Sabathia pitches tonight, he would be lined up to start Game 1 of the World Series on four days rest. “I like how you think,” Girardi said.

• The Yankees stuck with Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano batting second and third, even though it leaves back-to-back lefties against a bullpen full of left-handed relievers. “We talked about (splitting them),” Girardi said. “The thing is, Grandy has swung the bat great throughout the playoffs, and he’s also hit left-handers. Look at our top two guys offensively in the playoffs and it’s been Robinson and Granderson. We try to get them as many at-bats as we can.”

• Lance Berkman has more career at-bats against Colby Lewis than any of the other Yankees. That was part of the thinking behind batting him fifth and Nick Swisher sixth. Mostly, though: “Berky had some really, really good at-bats against this guy,” Girardi said. “He’s had good at-bats for us in the postseason.”

• Speaking of Lewis, the Yankees get a second chance against him tonight. “We knew he had good breaking stuff. We knew that he sunk it (and) he cut it,” Girardi said. “The biggest thing they’ve learned is that now they’ve seen his pitches and they have an idea what he’s going to do against each individual guy.”

• What did Phil Hughes learn from Game 2? “It’s important to locate against a very dangerous team,” Girardi said, laughing at the obviousness of his statement. “Even in a day when we shut them down, they had 13 hits. The important thing is what you do with runners in scoring position.”

• Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera are available for multiple innings, but, “That’s not exactly what you’d want to do,” Girardi said.

• Rangers manager Ron Washington had no problem with Nick Swisher saying yesterday that he’s excited about the possibility of facing Cliff Lee in a possible Game 7. “I think if I was sitting in his shoes and I had to face Cliff Lee, I’d probably feel the same way,” Washington said. “But, you know the game is not played with words; it’s played between the lines. And, if he can back it up, I’ll pat him on the back.”

• Girardi doesn’t expect it to rain and he said he hasn’t decided who might start tomorrow should tonight’s game be rained out. “I’ll cross that bridge when it happens,” he said.

Associated Press photos

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Workout notes: A second lefty in the pen10.21.10

ALCS Yankees Rangers Baseball

Last night, Joe Girardi specifically said there was one pitcher he would avoid using out of the bullpen. Andy Pettitte was off the table.

That seemed true until the late innings when Petttitte was told to get to the bullpen and be ready.

“Well, they told me to go down there,” Pettitte said. “I was hoping not (to be needed).”

The Yankees are going to have a second lefty in the bullpen again tomorrow night. For Game 6, CC Sabathia will be in the bullpen. One day of rest, so he clearly won’t be available for any sort of long relief, but he’ll be down there and ready to go.

“Our plan is he’s available tomorrow,” Girardi said. “Let’s see how he feels tomorrow, but our plan is that he will be available for us.”

ALCS Yankees Rangers Baseball• Also like Game 5, the Yankees will have both Mariano Rivera and Kerry Wood available for six outs if necessary. If Rivera gets six outs tomorrow, though, it’s unlikely he’d be available for six outs in Game 7. “I doubt it,” Girardi said.

• Lance Berkman will be available. “I don’t think he’ll be limited tomorrow,” Girardi said. “I’m sure he’s sore. You don’t fall that hard and not be sore, but I don’t expect it to affect his play tomorrow. He’ll be in there, unless something happens overnight.”

• Girardi on the track at Yankee Stadium: “If we feel it’s something we need to address, we’ll address it.”

• Alex Rodriguez said he never had any idea that guy who ran on the field on Monday was after him. He didn’t find out until he read it in the paper. “I saw he was very upset,” Rodriguez said. “It’s always a little scary, but our guys took care of it.”

• Mark Teixeira on having to watch a playoff game from the bench: “Really, really weird. I’ve watched games before during the regular season, but watching a playoff game from the dugout was something hopefully I’ll never have to do again.”

• The Yankees didn’t have much luck with Colby Lewis the first time they saw him (hardly anything new this season). But they get a second crack tomorrow. “The one thing I noticed was he threw a lot of strikes,” Curtis Granderson said. “He didn’t get behind at all throughout the course of the game. I assume to see a lot of the same, that he’s going to come right at guys. He’s going to throw an even mix of his fastball and his offspeed pitches, which is going to be a hard thing to try to offset. He’s going to stick with his plan, and hopefully we can stick to our plan.”

• Nelson Cruz is expected to be in the Rangers lineup tomorrow. Pulling him from last night’s game, Ron Washington said, was a precaution.

• The ceremonial first pitch for Game 6 will be thrown by Rangers Hall of Famer Tom Grieve, who works as a team broadcaster.

• Derek Jeter on workout day during the ALCS: “It’s always loose. These are the days that for us as players, we just want to get them over with. We’d much rather be playing than have today off.”

Associated Press photos of Jeter and Posada. I have no idea what’s going on with Posada, but it cracks me up.

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Postgame notes: “It starts with your starting pitcher”10.20.10

APTOPIX ALCS Rangers Yankees BaseballThe Yankees aren’t out of this American League Championship Series just yet. Today they played a complete game, their first truly complete game of the series: Starting pitching. A few timely hits. A few extra-base hits. Aggressive base running. Dominant relief pitching.  Today, the Yankees played like a team actually capable of winning a World Series.

Next up, Phil Hughes gets a second chance in Texas.

“Same as CC,” Jorge Posada said. “Loation is important, and execute the pitches that we are going to call. Obviously we are going to go through a nice game plan and hopefully we can execute that. We haven’t been able to until today.”

Of all the things that went right today, it was CC Sabathia who stood front and center. It was a start that reminded me of Andy Pettitte: Huge pitches at key moments in a game that Yankees literally had to win.

“I just felt like I wanted to keep them in it and give us a chance to win,” Sabathia said. “The first two starts of the postseason, I just felt like I wasn’t able to do that. We ended up winning the games, but you know, tonight I just felt like I made some pitches when I needed to.”

The two best examples: The Josh Hamilton double play in the fifth inning, and the Mitch Moreland strikeout to end the sixth. Both came with two runners on base, when a big hit would have let the Rangers right back in the game.

“I think it starts with your starting pitcher,” Joe Girardi said. “Putting up zeros and getting a couple of runs early. I think that’s momentum. Because when you look at both of these clubs, there’s a lot of talent out there. And if you don’t make your pitches, or you don’t hit the pitches you should, no matter what kind of momentum you have, you’re probably not going to win the game.” 

ALCS Rangers Yankees Baseball• What did Lance Berkman hurt the most on that tumble in foul territory? “My pride,” he said. “No, it felt like I got lit up in football. I initially thought I’d hit my head. I was looking up at the ball and the next thing I knew I was flat on my back looking up at the sky.”

• Berkman was wearing plastic spikes when he fell, then switched to his metal spikes. Yankee Stadium’s foul territory is notoriously slick — one player said it was like running from grass to ice — and Berkman wasn’t expecting it. He said he stood through most of the game, and sitting for a four-hour flight won’t be pretty. “They may have to carry me off the plane,” he said.

• Sabathia said one of the biggest adjustments since Game 1 was hit ability to stay tall over the rubber. He said Posada came to the mound more than once to let him know he was starting to fall. That helped him keep his mechanics together.

• Posada on his base running that led to a run: “I pretty much thought that Francoeur is going to go home and try to take advantage and try to get to third base, even if they were coming towards me. Get that run to score. And the ball gets away, and you know, I don’t see anybody back there, because obviously he was backing up home plate. As soon as the ball hit, I was like, oh, God, and I got lucky and he threw it away.”

• Posada took some grief from the dugout for his running. “I don’t know if there was ‘guys’ (giving a hard time),” he said. “I know Derek was all over me.” Girardi said there were some, “giggles on the bench when they saw Jorge running and running.”

ALCS Rangers Yankees Baseball• Robinson Cano on the reaction to seeing Posada run like that: “We always make fun of him.”

• Cano hit his fourth home run of the series, twice as many as his teammates combined. Fans have been chanting MVP when he comes to the plate, and Cano has been listening. “Oh, you can’t avoid the fans,” Cano said. “They are really loud and like I said, just focus on the game and we can’t afford to lose the game. Just go out there and give what I got and try to win the game.

• Kerry Wood said he almost never tries to pick off twice in a row at second base. For whatever reason, he did it tonight and even he was surprised to catch Elvis Andrus napping. “When his (Andrus) game is flowing, he thinks he’s invincible,” Ron Washington said. “So you know, right there we got three, four, five coming. You want to be very careful. Sometimes our game does that to us, but we are not going to stop playing it.”

• Phil Hughes threw in the bullpen during the game, but it was just a regular side session to prepare for Wednesday. Chad Moeller said he was laughing at the idea of a full stadium thinking Hughes was on his way into the game.

• Cano and Nick Swisher went back-to-back in the third inning. It was the 12th time Yankees hitters hit back-to-back home runs in the postseason, including one back-to-back-to-back. The last time was the 2000 ALCS when Bernie Williams and Tino Martinez did it.

• Sabathia is the sixth pitcher to ever allow 11 or more hits and allow no more than two runs in a playoff game.

• Cano snapped Mark Teixeira’s streak of 22 straight Yankees playoffs games as the No. 3 hitter. That was the third longest such streak in team history behind Babe Ruth’s 20 straight from 1922 to 1932. That sort of streak means a little less these days.

Associated Press photos of Sabathia, Berkman and Cano

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Pregame notes: “It helped me get to this point”10.16.10

ALCS Yankees Rangers BaseballOn May 1, 2007, Phil Hughes pitched in this ballpark for the first time. You probably know the story: It was his second Major League start. He was eight outs away from a no-hitter. He tried to throw a big curveball to Mark Teixeira and pulled his hamstring.

“I remember coming into that game, coming off my debut (which) wasn’t great,” Hughes said. “I still wanted to prove something, and I remember coming into that game and feeling really good. Everything was working. I came out early and was able to throw strikes. And then you know — it seems like a distant memory now — but obviously it didn’t end too well. That was certainly disappointing. Family and friends know not really to bring it up, just because it’s not one of my best memories. But at the same time, it was my first Major League win, and that certainly is still special.”

Hughes has since pitched twice in this stadium. One start, one relief appearance, and a total of three hits allowed. His success in Texas is one of the reasons the Yankees pegged him for Game 2 of the ALCS. Despite the less-than-perfect beginning, Hughes said he feels “pretty comfortable” in this park. His only appearance here this season was an inning of relief to stay sharp between starts.

It’s a strange road that brought Hughes to this point — premier prospect, strange injuries, up-and-down big league starts, back to the minors, big league reliever — but he lived up to all of the Yankees hopes and expectations in the division series. Now it’s time to take his show back on the road. For the second Saturday in a row, Hughes will make the biggest start of his career.

“I had to go through a lot in those first couple of years,” he said. “You know, coming up and feeling good about things, and you know, having those few years in the Minor Leagues where I didn’t really have too many hiccups. Then having to do the whole rehab thing, getting re-injured during my rehab, really not pitching for the entire season, coming back and then getting hurt the next year. It was a tough couple of years for me. But I really feel like that kind of shaped me into what I’ve been able to do so far, you know, just having to deal with that adversity and getting through it. I always try to take it as a positive and feel like it helped me get to this point.”

ALCS Yankees Rangers Baseball• TBS announced that more than 8.1 million viewers watched Game 1. It was the most-watched (based on total viewers) LCS Game 1 ever on cable, supplanting last years NLCS opener. The game drew a 13.9 rating in the New York market and a 21.9 rating in Dallas/Fort-Worth.

• Nick Swisher bunting last night: “Actually that was a play that we put on,” Joe Girardi said.

• Girardi said the Yankees still plan to have CC Sabathia pitch Game 5. He pulled him after 93 pitches last night because, “He just had worked extremely hard.”

• Girardi said he wasn’t surprised that the Rangers let a lefty pitch to Marcus Thames last night. “I had Berkman ready to go,” Girardi said. “He also knows Lance Berkman is a very good hitter too.”

• Speaking of Thames, despite all the talk about an open competition during spring training, Girardi said today that Thames was never really in danger of not making the team. “That’s where our scouts and our front office play an important role, knowing what Marcus can do,” Girardi said. “Going out and getting him and saying, he’s going to hit against left-handers.”

• Late in last night’s game, Girardi was trying to prepare himself for any situation. “We had a couple of guys up,” he said. “We didn’t have enough (bullpen) mounds.”

• The eighth-inning pickoff by Kerry Wood was actually called from the Yankees bench. “We are no different from any other club,” Girardi said. “You have a coach that gives signs and you do your homework where guys try to run. And you watch the baserunner. We are in clear view of the baserunner, what he’s trying to do if he’s trying to time it. And we try to hold the runners close. Kinsler broke and Kerry picked at the right time. It’s something where you do spend a lot of time going over it, and Tony (Pena) spends a lot of time. Tony was a catcher and understands the running game, and what teams are trying to do to us and we discuss it and it worked out for us.

• Ron Washington on trying to bounce back from last night: “I addressed my team after the game, and of course, it was positive. We did a lot of positive things last night. The only one thing we didn’t do was win the ballgame. But you know, after I addressed those guys and I talked with my staff, took a shower, got something to eat, went home, got up and came to the ballpark ready to do it again. It’s a 7-game series. We probably let one get away. My guys are resilient. They will show up today and they will go out and fight as hard as they did last night. I would like to be in the same position again and see what happens. I would like to get in the position of just having to get six more outs, and next time, we’ll probably get it done. We didn’t get it done last night, and we all take credit for that.”

RANGERS
Elvis Andrus SS
Michael Young 3B
Josh Hamilton CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Nelson Cruz RF
Ian Kinsler 2B
David Murphy LF
Bengie Molina C
Mitch Moreland 1B

Associated Press photos of Hughes and Girardi

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Pregame notes: “… but I said that last night”10.07.10

Yankees Red Sox Baseball
Mariano Rivera threw 21 pitches last night. He got a four-out save that was essentially a five-out save. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Rivera is absolutely available tonight, but probably not for more than one inning.

“I would prefer not to do it tonight,” Girardi said. “But I said that last night.”

There can be no doubt that there’s a certain comfort that comes with Rivera. Like Girardi said this afternoon, there’s no fair comparison. No one has been this good for this long in this role. It’s such a track record that, even at 40 years old, bumps in the road don’t mean much.

Rivera struggled down the stretch, one of two periods of three or four outings when he wasn’t himself.

“It wasn’t his mechanics, it was his hand position on the ball,” pitching coach Dave Eiland said. “When you show the player – they can feel something – and when you show them, it kind of clicks.”

Based on the all the broken bats last night, it seemed Rivera had clearly made the adjustment. Everything clicked, just like it’s clicked time after time since the mid-90s.

“Command was better, everything was better, and the result was better,” Rivera said.

Girardi doesn’t want to use his closer for more than three outs tonight, but in a crucial situation — no matter how good Kerry Wood has been since the trade deadline — it’s hard to imagine anyone the Yankees would rather have on the mound.

“He’s tremendous to have because you know the situation isn’t going to affect who he is,” Girardi said. “Mo’s been doing it so long, I think he enjoys the situations and I think he thrives in them.”

ALDS Yankees Twins Baseball• A day after the blown call in right field, Girardi once again gave his position on instant replay in baseball: “As long as it doesn’t slow the game down,” Girardi said. “The thing about expanded replay for me is, could they have reviewed that play as quick as they talked about it? Probably. It’s the same amount of time. It might even be less time.”

• Was Nick Swisher bunting on his own last night? Girardi wouldn’t say, at least not with words. There could be no doubt, based on his physical reaction to the question, that Girardi certainly didn’t call for the bunt. Someone said that Rob Thomson seemed to talk to Swisher very quickly after the failed bunt attempt, and Girardi only nodded. Bottom line: I wouldn’t expect to see Swisher laying down a bunt in the early innings tonight.

• There seems to always be some frustration from the fan base whenever Brett Gardner gets to first base and doesn’t try to steal. He had a chance to run last night and didn’t do it. “You just can’t run reckless where you get picked off and you take yourself out of an inning,” Girardi said. “You’ve got to make sure you’re able to read a guy’s move that you’re able to get a good jump, and those are the things that he does.”

• Derek Jeter hit some balls hard last night, continuing a trend that started in the last month of the season. “I think his at-bats have been a lot better,” Girardi said. “I think he’s hitting the ball harder. When he was in his rut, he was getting jammed a lot and hitting some weak ground balls. You see him hitting the ball to right field and center field with authority, and that’s good.”

• Girardi said he wasn’t worried about taking his only lefty out of the game in the seventh inning last night. In his mind, there were two innings to play and — lefty or righty — he knew the two pitchers he was going to use. “We’ve talked about Woody being our eighth-inning guy, and that’s probably where we’re going to use him,” Girardi said.

• Girardi said he plans to stick with Curtis Granderson as his everyday center fielder throughout the playoffs, regardless of lefty or righty starting pitcher. Last night might have reinforced that, but had Granderson taken an 0-for it wouldn’t have changed Girardi’s opinion. “This is a guy who for two months has hit off of lefties,” Girardi said. “So I don’t make a determination by one game.”

• One of Girardi’s many bullpen rules in the regular season was a refusal to use relievers four out of five days. He said that ban could be lifted in the postseason. “There’s a possibility we can use some guys four out of five nights if we had to,” he said.

• The Twins used Brian Fuentes for five batters last night, but manager Ron Gardenhire said Fuentes is available tonight.

• Girardi on the fact he’s in the Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame and Jim Thome is not: “They have made a mistake. Jim was, you know, a little bit younger than I was, and I never had a chance to play against him growing up. But I did in the big leagues. Somehow we grew up in the same area and I got like 1/20th of his power. I’m not sure what happened.”

Associated Press photos of Rivera with Posada, and of Teixeira’s game-winning home run last night

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The unsung heroes of last night10.07.10

ALDS Yankees Twins BaseballAlex Rodriguez is one of the baseball’s great players, but he’s also one of baseball’s great observers. Immediately after a game, he remembers the individual plays and the pitches. He pays attention when he’s on the field, and you can bet he was paying attention when Dave Robertson struck out Jim Thome last night with two-on and two-out in the seventh.

“That was a beautiful sequence,” Rodriguez said. “He came with the fastball then threw him three nasty breaking balls. That was a big key at-bat.”

Postgame, it was Ben Shpigel who asked Robertson about the very same thing I was thinking after that Thome at-bat. Robertson had walked the previous hitter, and to get Thome he seemed to throw two completely different curveballs: A small one for a called strike, then a big one in the dirt for a swinging strike three. Obviously they were both curveballs, but they seemed like different versions. Robertson said, no. Same pitch, location just made them look different.

It worked against Thome. One looked like a ball, and Thome took it for a strike. One looked like a strike, and Thomes couldn’t hit it.

“Just couldn’t find the strike zone for a little bit,” Robertson said. “I had to bear down and find the zone. I found it when I had to.”

Obviously the Yankees always want the bullpen to make it look easy, but sometimes there are nights like Wednesday, and those nights are just as good. Boone Logan got his first two hitters, but Joe Mauer fought through an eight-pitch at-bat to single. Robertson walked the first guy he faced, then got that huge strikeout against the Twins top home run threat. Kerry Wood threw some gas to Michael Cuddyer, but ultimately put two runners on without the ball leaving the infield. Even Mariano Rivera started his night with three straight balls before retiring five four in a row.

Not one of the Yankees relievers was perfect,* but all four did more good than bad. They were right up there with Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira in giving the Yankees the early series lead.

“It was just a battle of the bullpens,” Rodriguez said. “And we like our chances at that point.”

* Granted, Rivera was pretty close to perfect. He was especially impressive considering the rocky way his season ended. “There are times when he gives runs up,” Derek Jeter said. “But I wouldn’t want anyone else out there.”

Associated Press photo

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Pregame notes: Guest in the clubhouse09.25.10

corner_image_bioThe Yankees clubhouse was closed to the media for an extra hour this afternoon while former NFL coach Tony Dungy spoke to the team. Manager Joe Girardi tried to get Dungy to speak to the team in spring training, but the schedules never aligned until today when Dungy was in New York for some television work.

“In important games, it’s not necessary who has the most talent, but what team sticks together and executes their fundamentals the best,” Dungy said afterward, explaining his message. “Probably nothing they haven’t heard from Joe, but I know I have a son who doesn’t listen to anything I say, but if he hears the same thing from someone else, sometimes it has a little more impact.”

Girardi is a big Dungy fan, and he likes bringing speakers to talk to the team. This spring, he brought former Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson to be a guest speaker.

“I admire (Dungy) tremendously for his faith, his beliefs, the kind of man he is, the kind of family man, the kind of coach,” Girardi said. “I’ve read his books. I subscribe to his website. A ton of respect.”

The players and Girardi said Dungy’s message didn’t have a lot to do with sports, but was more about the life experiences of an athlete. It was a brief speech — Dungy guessed it lasted about five minutes — and there were some follow-up discussion. My most accounts, it was Nick Swisher who asked the most questions.

“Winning at any level in any other sport, seems so much harder because you’re not doing it,” Curtis Granderson said. “When you listen to it, you’re like man that’s pretty cool and that’s pretty neat just because it’s related in a different aspect. It’s still winning. The philosophies are very similar.”

• Other than the Dungy appearance, this seemed to be a pretty slow afternoon at Yankee Stadium. The players had optional batting practice and were filtering in and out of the clubhouse the whole time the media was in there.

• Austin Kearns is back in the Yankees lineup for the first time since being hit in the elbow by a pitch in Baltimore. “The last couple of days it’s gotten better,” he said. “It was just a matter of the swelling and stiffness getting better.”

• Phil Hughes said he wasn’t caught to off guard by having his start changed to Wednesday. He joked that he’s not thinking of this as being skipped, just pushed back three days.

• Hughes seemed to have the same attitude as Dave Eiland, saying he doesn’t know what made the difference the last time he had a start pushed back. Maybe the inning of relief helped. Maybe the change in some of his side work helped. Or maybe he simply had better stuff that day. Either way, he’s not putting too much thought into the extra rest this time around, or leading into the playoffs.

• As he’s said before, Girardi once again said his management style would not have been any different had their spot in the standings been different. “I haven’t managed any different the whole year,” he said.

• Funniest father-son combination in the clubhouse has to be Kerry Wood and his little boy. That kid will follow Wood everywhere, and the two seem to be always having some sort of playful conversation. It’s really funny to watch.

RED SOX
Marco Scutaro SS
J.D. Drew RF
Victor Martinez C
David Ortiz DH
Adrian Beltre 3B
Jed Lowrie SS
Ryan Kalish CF
Daniel Nava LF
Lars Anderson 1B

Dungy picture from his website

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Lightning striking twice09.23.10

photo

Spike emailed that picture last night. It was obviously taken during the storm and, yes, I used it to justify a headline about tonight’s pitching matchup.

It’s impossible to know what last night’s game might have been. A.J. Burnett was limited to three innings because of the rain and the Yankees had to lean on a string of relievers who had hardly been used the past two weeks. Aside from Royce Ring, none of them had an especially good night.

Which leaves tonight. The final regular season game between the Yankees and Rays will be a rematch of last week’s terrific pitching matchup between CC Sabathia and David Price. If you saw it the first time, it’s probably going to be worth seeing again. Hard to imagine either team would pick anyone else to have on the mound.

If it comes down to the bullpens again, the Yankees should have Kerry Wood, Boone Logan and Mariano Rivera available. All three had the past two days off. Dave Robertson’s availability might depend on his sore lower back, and Joba Chamberlain would be iffy at best. He was off yesterday, but before that he pitched three out of four, and Girardi has said he wants to give his relievers two days off after they’ve gone three out of four. Whether that changes because the back-to-back games were at the beginning instead of the end of the four games, I have no idea.

Regardless, the Yankees will lean on Sabathia as long as possible. If they win tonight, taking three out of four will have been a huge success. If they lose, it’s easy to remember what Lance Berkman said on the last day in Baltimore: “In a four-game series, usually if it’s two good teams it’s 2-2 and then we’re right back where we were and nobody gains any ground.”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 94 Comments →

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