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Tag:Phil Hughes
Posted on: April 15, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2011 4:51 pm
 

Loss of velocity sends Hughes to DL

Hughes

By Evan Brunell

"I can't keep going out there and digging us a hole," Phil Hughes said after his disastrous start Thursday in which he failed to make it through five innings yet again. Hughes was two outs away, but seven hits and five earned runs were too much to overcome even though he didn't walk anyone and added two strikeouts.

He won't have to dig New York a hole anymore as he has been placed on the disabled list, with reliever Lance Pendleton being promoted as Joe Girardi tells the New Jersey Star Ledger. They believe Hughes has a dead arm and needs to work through it.

Hughes' main problem, as has been well-documented this far, is a curious loss of velocity.

"I had a chuck-and-duck mentality out there," Hughes said to the New York Post, only illustrating how bad it's become. Hughes averaged 93.6 miles per hour on his fastball in 2009, when he pitched out of the bullpen. That mark dipped slightly upon his return to the starting rotation, which is not unheard of, finishing with a 92.5 mph mark. But this year, he's got a case of Javier Vazquez-itis as he's all the way down to 89.4 mph.

The Post's Kevin Kernan notes that Hughes' troubles stretch to last year, citing his 11-2 record with a 3.65 ERA prior to the All-Star break, with a 7-6 mark and 4.90 ERA after. Putting aside for the moment the fallacy of leaning on win-loss records to tell you something, the ERA disparity does. However, velocity is not to blame. While Hughes' was unmistakably worse in the second half as xFIP supports, velocity's not the issue. Check out Hughes' velocity chart over his career at Fangraphs, and you'll see his velocity was within normal range, as the chart reveals. (What may have been responsible was simply him tiring in his first full season, a spike in home run rates and a lower K/BB rate. You can't rule out an injury as well.)

Meanwhile, GM Brian Cashman and skipper Joe Girardi are on the same page in that Hughes simply has to pitch through it; it's the only thing that can be done.

"It's important to get depth from our rotation," Cashman said before the game. "Right now he hasn't been fully equipped yet because of lack of velocity. The only way to get through that is to pitch. It's a tightrope we're walking as we try to get his feet back on the ground. His history has been that his velo comes over time, so we're waiting on it."

Girardi concurred after the game. "He's still not right and it's our job to get him right," he said. "He's got to pitch to get things right, he can't just go on a sabbatical or something. We have off-days coming up, a lot of things we have to discuss."

As CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler notes, no Yankee since at least 1919 has ever started the year in the rotation and remained there after not going past five innings -- and now Hughes will continue that trend. Bartolo Colon will replace Hughes in the rotation.

"It's not my decision to make," Hughes Thursday night of what happens with him. "This is just something I've got to get through, hopefully it comes back overnight. Whatever it is, whether it is bullpen, minors, long toss, just whatever it is, I've got to make sure I do it."

The bullpen does have some appeal to it, as he could have stayed in the majors and work with pitching coach Larry Rothschild. The club could keep him stretched out as a long reliever but as Hughes notes, how is that a long-term solution?

"If I were throwing a lot of balls, that would be one thing," he said. "But me going down there and throwing as hard as I can, maybe for an inning that would be good, but I don't think that's necessarily a long-term solution."

And it's not, which is why Hughes is now headed to the DL, allowing the Yankees to send him to their spring complex to work on his arm and then send him on a rehab assignment. This will allow New York to give Hughes a few minor-league starts without needing to burn an option. The Yankees have a dire problem on their hands. They already had to deal with the risk Ivan Nova at No. 4 and Freddy Garcia at No. 5 brings. Now, without Hughes, the team is down to two proven pitches in CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett. And as everyone knows, Burnett is pretty good, but pretty inconsistent. Losing out on Cliff Lee has really presented a problem for New York.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: April 14, 2011 10:34 am
 

Pepper: McGwire only one to dodge steroid fallout

McGwire

By Evan Brunell

DODGING THE BULLET: The steroid era continues to haunt baseball, as Barry Bonds' obstruction of justice charge is far from the end of the saga.

While Bonds is the posterboy for the whole mess, the former face of baseball has somehow survived a Congressional inquiry, years of self-imposed exile, a much-awaited admission and apology and returned to the game as a coach.

No one could have guessed this when Mark McGwire was stumbling over ways to avoid the past in front of Congress, but he's the only star to avoid any lasting damage, unless one counts his failed bids to make the Hall of Fame. It does really seem as if his lawyers gave him the right information all the way back in 2003 as he avoided lying to Congress and then hid away until it benefited him to come clean to avoid prosecution and get back into the game.

Look, there's no defending McGwire, both for his actions juicing up and for waiting until it behooved him best to admit using steroids, but in his second season as Cardinals hitting coach, there is no paparazzi stalking him and no controversy. At this point, McGwire is just another coach with a long history in the game. That's an impressive feat to pull off. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

BASEBALL TODAY: Can Cliff Lee get back on track tonight? Will Phil Hughes lower his ERA? Matt Snyder joins Lauren Shehadi to answer those questions and more.

STRASBURG BEHIND: Stephen Strasburg has yet to throw off a mound in his return from Tommy John surgery. That places him behind Jordan Zimmermann's own schedule last season, but the Nationals have cautioned everyone rehabs at their own pace and there is no rush. Strasburg has a shot to pitch in September for Washington, but given he has yet to step on a mound, that shot has suddenly become a long one. (Washington Post)

MANNY WHO? The Rays have already found a solution for replacing Manny Ramirez's bobblehead night on May 29. In his place, the club will give away a cape dedicated to Sam Fuld, who was a one-man wrecking crew in the abbreviated two-game series against the Red Sox. Click the link to check out the cape, which is pretty cool. (Tampa Tribune)

GOING CRAZY: Well, that didn't take long. Skipper Terry Collins reportedly went "ballistic" after Wednesday's stinker. A player said Collins didn't single anyone out, but made it clear he wasn't happy with how New York was responding to its recent slide, having lost six of seven. (New York Post)

PANIC ALERT: At the outset of the 2011 season, one keeps hearing how it's too early to draw any conclusions from the play of teams or players. But for one certain writer, it's never too early as he encourages you to go right ahead and panic. Something about how it's healthy and fun to panic. Me? I'd prefer to stay even-keeled, thanks. (Sports Illustrated)

SHORTSTOP PAINS: The Brewers are incredibly thin at shortstop, both at the major-league and minor-league level. Luiz Cruz left the organization to sign with the Rangers despite Milwaukee telling him he would be the first option up to the majors if needed. Then, Triple-A third baseman/shortstop Zelous Wheeler got injured, leaving journeyman Anderson Machado as the first line of defense at short. And if your first line of defense is Machado, you've got serious problems. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

TILLMAN BOMBED: Chris Tillman was smacked around by the Yankees on Wednesday, and manager Buck Showalter made it clear after the game that it was unacceptable. "You just can’t let them get away from you and keep the team in the game," he said, also declining to confirm Tillman would make his next start Monday. (Baltimore Sun)

UBALDO RETURNING: Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez had a strong rehab outing Wednesday and should make his return to the majors on Monday. (MLB.com)

BACK TO THE ROTATION? Jeff Samardzija has shuttled back and forth between the rotation and bullpen in his fledgling career and may be settling into a niche as a reliever. However, when the team needs a fifth starter again next week, manager Mike Quade says he'll be forced to consider Samardzija along with a host of other options. (Chicago Sun-Times)

MEETING THE PRESIDENT: A select number of Houston Astros coaches and players had lunch with former president George H.W. Bush, an invitation that occurs once a year. "I was a little star-struck when I saw him," third baseman Chris Johnson said. "You see athletes all the time. That’s totally different. It’s totally on another level." (Houston Chronicle)

HAPPY 70, CHARLIE HUSTLE: Pete Rose turns 70 on Thursday, an unthinkable thought to those who grew up idolozing Rose and the Big Red Machine. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

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Posted on: April 12, 2011 9:27 pm
 

Hughes 'worried' about drop in velocity

By Matt Snyder

Yankees No. 3 starting pitcher Phil Hughes is off to a pretty bad start here in 2011. In just two starts, he's been banged around the yard to the tune of 12 hits and 11 earned runs in just six innings. Add in three home runs, four walks and just one strikeout as more salt in the wound. One of the biggest issues has been a drastic drop in velocity from the first half of the season last year.

The pitch was reaching into the mid-90s until about midway through his breakout 2010 campaign. Anymore, he's lucky to hit 90 with it. With the drop in speed, the entire arsenal of pitches loses effectiveness and it's showing. And Hughes isn't making any secret about the fact that he is concerned.

"It’s obviously something to be worried about,'' Hughes said Tuesday. "This is my job, my livelihood and I don’t have the stuff I know I’m capable of going out there with. It’s worrisome and it’s frustrating." (ESPN New York )

Due to a rainout Tuesday, Hughes' Wednesday start will be delayed until Thursday. He's reportedly worked with a few tweaks to his throwing motion with pitching coach Larry Rothschild and hopes things will soon get back on track.

Hughes, 24, was 18-8 with a 4.19 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 146 strikeouts last season in 176 1/3 innings. He was 10-1 with a 3.17 ERA and almost a strikeout per inning after 13 starts, though, before fading in the second half with his loss of zip on the fastball.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: April 11, 2011 10:29 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:54 am
 

Pepper: No change in the Cards at closer

Ryan FranklinBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Three out of four isn't bad. Well, unless you're a closer and you've blown three of four save chances.

The only thing worse than having a closer that can't close is the manager having zero confidence in anybody else in the bullpen. 

When St. Louis manager Tony La Russa was asked if he was considering changing his closer from Ryan Franklin, he answered, "who's better?"

"Somebody's got to come up with somebody that's better on our club right now," La Russa told MLB.com's Matthew Leach. "The fact is that right now those young guys aren't better."

The young guys are Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte, both of whom are being groomed to take over for Franklin.

In fairness to Franklin, errors by Albert Pujols and Colby Rasmus with two outs in the ninth led to two victories by the Giants on Friday and Saturday, respectively. However, the way the Cardinals are constructed, defense will not be bailing out too many pitchers this season, and Pujols and Rasmus are two of the teams' better defenders.

Sunday the Cardinals found a way to avoid a closer breakdown -- by giving its pitchers a five-run lead to close out. They were successful, salvaging the series against the Giants with a 6-1 get-away day win in San Francisco.

RED-HOT Rangers -- Jeff Wilson of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram joins Lauren Shehadi to talk about the Rangers' great start.

CABRERA HELPING CABRERA -- The influence of veteran Orlando Cabrera has already started paying off for the Indians. During spring, Cabrera noticed Asdrubal Cabrera's approach in batting practice was that of a slugger, not a shortstop. He told him to try that in a game sometime. During the Indians' seven-game winning streak, Asdrubal Cabrera is hitting .316 with three homers and nine RBI. Asdrubal Cabrera had three homers all of last season. [MLB.com]

SIX-MAN ROTATION? -- The White Sox may look at a six-man rotation when Jake Peavy returns because of the performance of Phil Humber, at least on a short-term basis. [Chicago Tribune]

NICE MATCHUP -- For just the 21st time in history, two authors of perfect games will start against each other tonight, as Oakland's Dallas Braden faces Chicago's Mark Buehrle.

DUNN TAKE BP -- White Sox slugger Adam Dunn took batting practice before Sunday's game against the Rays and could return to the team's lineup as soon as today.

"It was good to get out of solitary confinement and hang out with the general population, you know what I mean," Dunn told the Chicago Tribune's Dave van Dyck.

However, Dunn said he was done making predictions about when he'd return when asked if he could play today against Oakland.

TINKERING -- Derek Jeter isn't the only Yankee messing with his mechanics -- right-hander Phil Hughes tinkered with his motion during his bullpen session on Sunday. Hughes is attempting to use more of the bottom half of his body in his delivery. [New York Times]

ROUSING THE TROOPS -- Rays manager Joe Maddon tried to eject all four umpires in Sunday's 6-1 loss to the White Sox. [St. Petersburg Times]

Enjoy this video while it lasts (why MLB.com won't allow embedded videos, I just don't know...)

LAROCHE CONFIDENT HE'LL BE BACK SOON -- Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche said he doesn't expect to miss any time after leaving Sunday's game with a strained left groin. LaRoche left in the 11th inning against the Mets, but said today's day off for the Nationals would give him ample healing time. [MASNSports.com]

ZIMMERMAN UNSURE OF RETURN -- Unlike his teammate LaRoche, Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is unsure when he'll return from his strained abdominal muscle. Zimmerman will be re-evaluated on Tuesday following the off day. [Washington Post]

YOUNG UNHAPPY -- Mets right-hander Chris Young wasn't perfect on Sunday and  that wasn't good enough for him or the Mets. In his first seven-inning outing in nearly two years, Young allowed just one hit and two walks, and the walk came back to hurt him, accounting for the lone run he gave up to the Nationals. After he left the game, Washington tied the game in the eighth inning before winning it in the 11th. Young picked up a no-decision, but is 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA in two starts for the Mets this season.  [ESPNNewYork.com]

BACK-TO-BACK -- Mark Prior pitched on back-to-back days for the Class A Tampa Yankees on Saturday and Sunday as he makes the transition from starter to reliever in an attempt to return to the majors for the first time since 2006. Prior's fastball reached 91 on both days. [MLB.com]

NO BIG DEAL -- Cubs pitching coach Mark Riggins downplayed conflicting statements from pitcher Matt Garza and manager Mike Quade following Garza's loss to the Brewers on Saturday. [Chicago Sun-Times]

NO REPLICAS FOR FANS -- The Giants will not make replica World Series rings available to fans, but you can by commemorative jewelry from the team. So, you know, if you've outgrown your class ring, you can get a ring that's symbolic of an achievement you had absolutely zero to do with earning yourself. But, you know, if you have $3,570 dollars just lying around with nothing else to really do with it, why not? It's not like there are charities that could use it more than you can use a 14K white gold ring with diamonds and your name on it that will repel women. Seriously, just buy one of the cool hats with the gold SF the team wore the other day. [San Francisco Chronicle]

NEW BOX -- The fine folks over at FanGraphs have unveiled their new boxscore. I swear there are some stats that aren't real in there just to see if you're paying attention. Seriously, there's just about everything you'd ever want in this box, and going through one could take longer than actually watching the game. And I mean that in the most awesome way possible. [FanGraphs.com]

OLD GLOVES -- A cool graphic on the evolution of the baseball glove, or at least Spalding's gloves (and a bonus Wilson one, even though I've always been a Rawlings guy). [UniWatchBlog]

NICE DAY AT THE PARK -- What's better than a beautiful Sunday at the ballpark? Try a day at the park followed by a post-game concert by the Avett Brothers. The band performed at Turner Field yesterday following the Phillies' 3-0 victory. My sisters-in-law and other friends went, plus one of my sisters-in-law met Kevin Gillespie in the beer line -- not a bad day.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 

Posted on: March 20, 2011 1:53 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:48 am
 

Pepper: Collins to dial down intensity

Collins

By Evan Brunell

TIME TO LOOSEN UP: Terry Collins is well aware of his reputation as a no-nonsense manager whose intensity lost the respect of his players when he helmed the Astros and Angels.

However, to hear Collins tell it, he realizes where he went wrong and wants to make changes.

 

"I’ve thought about it a lot," he said. "I took it way too serious. Even though I enjoyed it, I didn’t enjoy it. It was all about the winning, winning, winning, instead of enjoying being around these guys and watching them play, enjoying the experience and the challenge of competing. That’s what I love to do.

"There was that thing that I had to prove something. I still want to prove that we’re good enough, but I don’t think it’s the same type of attitude I had in the past. And with that comes the fact that these guys are human beings, and they need communication."

Collins plans to have the Mets play aggressively, as his Angels did -- which still continues to this day under manager Mike Scioscia. He also places a premium on players aspiring to be great and staying focused, which sounds a lot like the old Collins, but the skipper knows that.

"Hopefully, the energy -- or whatever people want to say, the intenseness that I have -- may work here," Collins said. (New York Times)

 

IZZY COULD SET UP: Jason Isringhausen was once one of the Mets' most heralded pitching prospects before injuries completely wrecked his early years. He was later moved to Oakland and became a closer, famous for his time in St. Louis. Now, after missing most of the last two years, Izzy appears poised to set up closer Francisco Rodriguez back in New York. (New York Post)

IT'LL BE PUDGE: After a brief skirmish among Nationals reporters as to the state of the catching, it appears Ivan Rodriguez will certainly start Opening Day for Washington -- but Wilson Ramos figures to get the bulk of work behind the plate in short order. (Washington Post)

NO MORE GUYS: Five Guys is a weakness of Evan's, and it will no longer taunt him in Nationals Park, as the burger chain has opted not to renew its lease despite being one of the more popular options for customers. (Eater.com)

SILVA'S SPOT IN DANGER: Carlos Silva has had a beyond-awful spring training and although he's slated to take the bump once more next Wednesday, that may not happen. Manager Mike Quade and GM Jim Hendry are expected to sit down and make some touch decisions prior to then. It's entirely feasible that Silva will be put out of the running for the No. 5 starter's spot at that time. (Chicago Sun-Times)

GOOD NEWS FOR BREW CREW: Milwaukee already has enough problems figuring out who will replace Zack Greinke in the rotation, so bad news regarding Shaun Marcum is not ideal. However, the righty believes while he may have to skip a start in spring training, he will be on track for the regular season. (MLB.com)

THE NATURAL: Ken Griffey, Jr.'s talent on the field sometimes evoked comparisons to the immortal Ray Hobbs, but who knew that Griffey had untapped potential? Griffey stopped by the Mariners' broadcast booth for five innings Friday and drew rave reviews. (MLB.com)

BENGIE WANTS TO PLAY: Don't call Bengie Molina retired, brother Jose of the Blue Jays says. Rather, Molina isn't interested in playing unless any contract he signs "shows him sufficient respect." Is it just me, or is an offer to extend your career and haul in at least another half-million plenty of respect to give? (FOX Sports)

INCREMENTAL PROGRESS: The Yankees haven't made formal who the Nos. 4 and 5 starters will be (bank on Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia) but now we know who is following CC Sabathia on the mound: A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, respectively. (New York Post)

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Posted on: March 13, 2011 2:05 pm
 

Certain Yankees prospects are 'untouchable'

Manny Banuelos

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Despite the franchise's reputation as a mercenary of sort, the Yankees have shown a propensity to hold on to some of their top prospects under general manager Brian Cashman.

Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and even Jesus Montero have been kept instead of dealt in blockbuster deals for veteran players the past couple of years. That strategy is unlikely to change, even though the Yankees would like to upgrade their rotation.

"I have enough [trade] chips," Cashman told Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger. "But if people want to demand certain bullets, those certain bullets I'm not going to shoot. … There are untouchables here."

When asked if the team's young pitchers are those untouchables, Cashman didn't exactly confirm it, but he pretty much did.

"You can figure them out," he said. "But there are certain guys. Like Phil Hughes. I said publicly I wouldn't want to trade Phil Hughes. I stopped trade discussion on Hughes on [Johan] Santana because he was a rare, special guy. And he's proven that out. He's helped us win a World Series in the bullpen, he won 18 games last year, and we have certain guys we think are potentially even better than he is. That excites us."

That's not hyperbole. Manny Banuelos (above), the left-hander celebrating his 20th birthday today, has had an incredible camp with the Yankees. In three outings and five innings, Banuelos has allowed just three hits, a walk and a hit batter, while striking out eight.

Despite standing just 5-foot-10, Banuelos can touch 95 on the radar gun and has great control with the pitch, as well as plus pitches in his curveball and changeup.

Dellin Betances

Dellin Betances (left) is nearly a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier than Banuelos and also throws with the other arm. However, the Yankees are just as high on him. A hard-thrower, he doesn't have the command Banuelos has, but throws a bit harder. He also has a hammer of a curveball.

Batances has appeared in three games this spring, going 4 2/3 innings. He's allowed four hits and two runs, walking five and striking out seven.

Don't expect either to wear anything but pinstripes in the future, and if they progress like most believe they can, it would be a surprise to see them in any other uniform for a long, long time.

Those two, along with Andrew Brackman, are the only minor league pitchers left in the team's camp.

Brackman has appeared in one game, pitching an inning, allowing hit and striking out one. The 6-foot-10 Brackman was the team's first-round pick in 2007.

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Posted on: March 6, 2011 10:09 am
Edited on: March 6, 2011 11:35 am
 

Pepper: Phillie concern

Domonic Brown

By C. Trent Rosecrans

After nothing but (deserved) rave reviews this offseason, reality is hitting the Philadelphia Phillies.

Still the favorite in the National League East, the same problem that kept them in a division race last season is popping up again -- injuries.

Chase Utley is already getting cortisone shots and, as our own Danny Knobler wrote it perfectly, if the Phillies are concerned -- and they're saying they're concerned -- it's not a good sign.

And now Domonic Brown is out with a broken hamate bone in his hand. Although Brown was struggling this spring -- hitless in 15 at-bats -- and was likely headed to Triple-A, he was still part of the team's plans for 2011.

The hamate injury is a tricky one -- he'll likely be able to play this season, but he won't be the same. Last year when I was around the Reds a bit, I talked to two players who were in different stages of the same injury. One, Yonder Alonso, suffered the injury in 2009, the other, Chris Dickerson, had the surgery during last season.

Dickerson was able to return and even played with the Reds and Brewers after the surgery. Alonso had the surgery in June of 2009 and was back that season, as well. However, the injury saps power. Alonso told me several times that the ball just didn't jump off his bat the same, what would be a double in the past wasn't getting past outfielders, and what was a homer in the past just died in the outfield. As doctors told him, about a year fate the surgery, his power was back. 

Brown can return this season, but don't expect him to be the same player he has shown to be in the minor leagues and that he'll be in the future.

The Phillies are counting on Ben Francisco and Ross Gload to fill in for Jayson Werth until Brown is ready. Now they'll be counting on those two longer.

Pitching won't be a problem for Philadelphia, and it wasn't the problem last year. When the team got in trouble, it was injuries and offense. With uncertainly to the health of Utley and then general uncertainty with Jimmy Rollins, there's cause for concern in Philly.

That said, they're still the favorites, but maybe not quite the prohibitive favorites they were before.

STAYING PAT: The Yankees appear to be happy with the starters they have in camp -- CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova.

Brian Cashman tells the Boston Globe the team is unlikely to trade for a starter before opening day.

"Can't rule it out, but it's highly unlikely," Cashman said. "Normally anything of quality doesn't become available until after the June draft. That's why you try and get as much as you can get accomplished in winter."

HOT DOG RUN: Apparently because the team mom forgot the orange slices, after his stint in Saturday's game, Boston's Dustin Pedroia ducked out of the Red Sox clubhouse to the concession stand for three hot dogs.

"They probably didn't think he was a player," Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters, including the Providence Journal. "Did you see that outfit he had on? He looks like he's going into second grade."

NATS OPTIMISM: A scout tells Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman (via Twitter) that Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann is "back." He's throwing 94-95 mph with a "superb" slider. Said the scout, "if they had [Stephen] Strasburg, they'd be dangerous."

The Nats don't, but Zimmermann offers hope for 2012, as he had Tommy John surgery in August of 2009, a year before Strasburg. 

AMBASSADOR GRIFFEY: Ken Griffey Jr.'s new job with the Mariners is to be an ambassador of sort, but before he does that, he served the same role for the U.S. State Department in the Philippines. 

Griffey just returned from working with coaches and youth players in the Philippines. 

USA Today's Paul White caught up with him last week before his trip. Griffey still refuses to talk about his exit from the game, but he'll likely be seen around the Mariners some this season. His new job requires about a month's worth of work with the team, doing a little bit of everything.

More importantly, he's being a dad. His daughter Taryn recently led Orlando's Dr. Phillips High School to the Florida girls basketball championship. Taryn Griffey, a freshman point guard, had 21 points in the championship game.

His son, Trey, is a junior safety and wide receiver who is being recruited, as well.

PIAZZA NOT BUYING Mets: Mike Piazza tells the New York Post he's interested in buying part of a baseball team "someday" but not now.

"I think everything is timing," Piazza said. "It's an interesting time in the game. There's a lot of change going on … but as far as anything on the forefront, there's nothing. Let's just say I talked to some people that are interested in getting into the game … It doesn't cost anything to talk. At least not yet."

NO PANIC FOR Braves: Atlanta's 23-year-old Craig Kimbrel has the inside track to replace Billy Wagner as the Braves' closer, but he's not been very good so far this spring. He's struggled with his command and has allowed four runs and six hits in three appearances this spring.

"If there is a trend like this later in the spring, then you start worrying about it," manager Fredi Gonzalez tells MLB.com. "But not right now."

CAIN FEELS BETTER: Giants pitcher Matt Cain played catch for about eight minutes on Saturday and felt no pain in his right elbow.

Cain was scratched from his last start and won't make his scheduled start on Tuesday, either. (MLB.com)

PIONEER LAID TO REST: About 500 people reportedly attended the funeral of Wally Yonamine in Hawaii on Saturday, according to Sanspo (via YakyuBaka.com). A memorial service will also be held in Tokyo later this month.

Yonamine, the first American to play professional baseball in Japan, died earlier this week at 85. The New York Times had a good obituary earlier this week, and a column in the Honolulu Star Advertiser shed light on how Yonamine dealt with death threats and other pressures when he started playing in Japan.

However, Yonamine became a star in Japan and was elected to the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994. He was also the first Asian-American to play in the NFL.

NOT THAT IT'S GONNA HAPPEN: But contraction isn't going to happen.

Union chief Michael Weiner tells the St. Petersburg Times that the union will fight any attempt to contract teams.

"Having been in bargaining in baseball since the late 80s, anything is fathomable, so we don't either take anything for granted or rule anything out," Weiner said. "All I would says is if that changes, if contraction becomes a goal of the owners in this negotiation, the tenor of the talks would change quickly and dramatically."

Bud Selig tells the Los Angeles Times it's not a goal for the owners, and it's certainly not a fight they want to take up.

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Posted on: March 5, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2011 7:38 pm
 

Getting to know the Yankees

By Matt Snyder

TEAM MVP

You could create an argument for Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano or Mariano Rivera. Die-hard fans of the Bronx Bombers might want to make the argument for their beloved Derek Jeter. You could even face the taunts of the general public and say Alex Rodriguez. But with the still-developing Phil Hughes, the ever-fickle A.J. Burnett and two -- yet to be named -- mediocre-at-best pitchers comprising the starting rotation, CC Sabathia is the most important cog on the Yankees this season. In two seasons for the Yanks, the big man has gone 40-15 with a 3.27 ERA and nearly 400 strikeouts, garnering two top-five finishes in Cy Young voting. He's eaten 467 2/3 innings during the regular season and was the workhorse en route to a 2009 World Series championship. Even if everything else goes awry with the staff, the Yankees have a reliable ace every fifth day -- assuming he stays healthy. If he doesn't, God help them.

PLAYER ORACLE - Bath Ruth to Derek Jeter (c'mon, had to be done)

Babe Ruth played with Ben Chapman on the 1930 New York Yankees

Ben Chapman played with Early Wynn on the 1941 Washington Senators

Early Wynn played with Tommy John on the 1963 Cleveland Indians

Tommy John played with Roberto Kelly on the 1988 New York Yankees

Roberto Kelly played with Derek Jeter on the 2000 New York Yankees

POP CULTURE

There is so much to choose from here. You've got "The Pride of the Yankees" to "Damn Yankees" to "The Babe" to "The Scout." And many more. Plus, the Yankees more often than not end up being the antagonistic team in baseball movies ("Major League" and "For Love of the Game" come to mind). And that's only movies. The Yankees have been a pop culture fixture for about a century. In fact, there aren't many -- if any -- teams in pro sports more represented in popular culture.

So it was a tough task to just pick one, but I have a soft spot for "The Babe Ruth Story," which was done decades before John Goodman was suiting up as the Sultan of Swat.

And, of course, there is no more single -- possibly real, but possibly not -- sports story more glorified, repeated and legendary than the "called shot" at Wrigley Field.

So here is the clip -- a cheesefest, mind you -- where the Babe throws back a head of lettuce to the Cubs' heckling dugout, calls his shot, hits a home run and saves a young boy's life. All in the span of two minutes and 45 seconds. Yes, all that. Told you it was a cheesefest.



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