Tag:Joe Girardi
Posted on: February 17, 2010 4:08 pm
 

Up in the Air

TAMPA -- Touched down in Florida on Tuesday night and felt like George Clooney in the movie during a coast-to-coast day of travel.

It's always a culture shock -- albeit, a very cool culture shock -- packing up and heading toward spring training following a winter at home. The pitchers and catchers, the sun, the familiar old faces, it's all very inviting. But saying farewell to your family and moving out of your house for six weeks, not so much.

Anyway, when you've been writing baseball as long as I have (20-some years now), the last few days of winter always make for a weird feeling, sort of like those last few days of summer when you were a kid. Probably, there was a big part of you that was excited to see old friends and get started on the new year. And probably, there was another part that dreaded the early morning alarms, the long year and all that homework. Because you knew what was ahead of you.

First leg of my flight, I was lucky enough to, against all odds, change from a middle seat in the back to an exit row at the last minute. Second leg, I went from seat 43D to an aisle in row 23. Yes! The flights were on time, the baggage made it through and hotel check-in was smooth.

Now here we are, and I can tell you this because it happens every year: The moment I walk into the first camp, it's like stepping into the first chapter of a great book that whisks you through until the end. All you want to do is keep reading. Every season is like that, it's why we all keep coming back.

So buckle up and let's go. Come with me through my Grapefruit League travels over the next three weeks. You can ride shotgun. We'll roam from camp to camp, visit with Joba Chamberlain and many others, soak up some sun (hopefully, soon) and smell the leather of the new gloves. Heck, we'll probably pull off the freeway every now and again when we spot a Dairy Queen, too.

Check back here every day. The columns will be front and center, my colleague Danny Knobler and I will have plenty of video reports throughout the spring and I'll stock some off-the-beaten-track slices of camp life -- the anecdotes, the music, the food -- right here in Bull Pennings.

As I tell my friends and neighbors, when you have to pack shorts and sunblock for your job, you've got a pretty sweet gig. And much of the pleasure, as with certain desserts and, yes, great books, is in the sharing.

Sunblock Day? Technically, I suppose, because the sun was out. But let's just say the stuff you've heard about the Florida cold is right on: The car temperature read "49 degrees" when I left the hotel at 9 this morning, and it read "59" when I left Yankees camp around 1:30. Brrrr.

Likes: New Yankees pitcher Javier Vazquez's relief upon hearing that Atlanta starter Jair Jurjjen's shoulder injury doesn't appear serious. That's great news for the Braves and Jurjjens, and good news for Vazquez because he became good friends with Jurjjens. "I'm going to call him this afternoon," Vazquez said, smiling. ... Yanks manager Joe Girardi met the press from a front table in an auxiliary tent outside of Legends Field on Wednesday, and what a pleasure it was to be in the same tent as the infamous Alex Rodriguez press conference a year ago and not have to listen to steroids talk. I don't know who was more relieved, Girardi, the Yankees or media members. ... Up in the Air was a terrific movie, incidentally. Perfect role for Clooney. ... Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Delicious, especially the bacon cheeseburger the other night. ... The Foundation, the Grammy-winning disc by the Zac Brown Band, is great fun. Especially Toes (sample lyrics below) and Chicken Fried (lyrics in coming days).

Dislikes: Aw, the mean rental car lady couldn't be talked into a convertible. Cold as it is here, she probably was doing me a favor.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Well, the plane touched down
"Just about 3 o'clock
"And the city's still on my mind
"Bikinis and palm trees danced in my head
"I was still in the baggage line
"Concrete and cars are their own prison bars
"Like this life I'm living in
"But the plane brought me farther
"I'm surrounded by water
"And I'm not going back again"

-- Toes, Zac Brown Band

 

Posted on: November 1, 2009 5:44 pm
 

Yanks: Rivera won't go beyond an inning in Game 4

PHILADELPHIA -- As you're watching Game 4 tonight and playing along with the managers, here's one thing to watch for: Don't expect Yankees closer Mariano Rivera to collect a two-inning save, as he did in Game 2.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi says he doesn't expect to use Rivera for more than one inning tonight after Rivera threw five pitches in Game 3 Saturday night.

"I probably wouldn't ... tonight, either," Girardi said of the possibility of using Rivera for two innings, something the manager said he wouldn't do before Game 3, either. "Because he's thrown two out of three days.

"His workload a couple days ago was pretty heavy, so he probably wouldn't do any more than an inning."

In earning the save Thursday night in Game 2, Rivera threw 39 pitches, the most he's ever thrown in a World Series game.

Posted on: November 1, 2009 5:23 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2009 5:37 pm
 

Girardi: Burnett will start Game 5

PHILADELPHIA -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi confirmed Sunday what most people have expected all along: He will hand the ball to A.J. Burnett to start Game 5 on Monday.

The move means that Burnett, the winning pitcher in Game 2 (seven innings pitched, one earned run allowed), will pitch on short (three days) rest. It also means that the Yankees will skip Chad Gaudin.

It's also the right decision: Even though Burnett has not pitched all year on short rest, the odds of an effective performance from him still out-weights that of the same from Gaudin.

Besides, there's this: In four career starts on three-days' rest, Burnett is 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA. That includes beating the Yankees 4-1 in July, 2008.

The Yankees still have not committed to a Game 6 starter, though they're expected to swing back to Andy Pettitte on short rest as well.

"We will continue to monitor our guys," Girardi said. "We'll see how Andy's doing on his side day and on the day off. Depending on what happens, we'll see how he's doing.

"But right now, as far as we'll go is Game 5."

Posted on: October 31, 2009 5:05 pm
 

Yanks will hand ball to Sabathia for Game 4

It's official: Win or lose Game 3 tonight, the Yankees will hand the ball to ace CC Sabathia to start Game 4.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi confirmed it during his pre-game media session Saturday afternoon, adding that Chad Gaudin will be available in relief.

Sabathia will be pitching on short (three days') rest, something with which he has had great success in the past.

"This is the World Series," Girardi said. "There's no baseball after the World Series for four or five months, so there will be plenty of time to rest.

"I think the important thing on short rest is you have to know how your pitcher is feeling physically. We talked, and he threw pretty good game after short rest [in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series against the Angels]."

Girardi also left open the possibility that A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte may come back on short rest and start Games 5 and 6.

Posted on: October 29, 2009 2:18 am
 

Sabathia battles but comes up short

NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia certainly pitched respectably and kept his team in the game until manager Joe Giradi's bullpen sent Philadelphia on its way -- a New York problem that threatens to undermine the Yanks in this World Series -- but Cliff Lee stole the show.

Yes, they've seen it all before in Cleveland, when Sabathia and Lee were pitching for the Indians. And in the much-anticipated mound matchup, Sabathia watched his old buddy throw a gem.

"He's been pitching great all year," Sabathia said.

As for the Yankees' Big Man, Sabathia came out of the gate unusually wild, walking two Phillies in the first inning.

That led to a two-out, bases-loaded situation which he escaped, but it was taxing.

So, too, was Chase Utley's third-inning at-bat that resulted in a full-count home run. Utley worked Sabathia over for nine pitches during the duel, fouling off five of them.

Sabathia needed 58 pitches to navigate through the first three innings.

"I was just trying to keep the ball down and I was yanking balls over the plate," Sabathia said. "My two-seamer was down, but it was way down."

He went seven innings, leaving the Yankees in a 2-0 hole when he departed. Utley homered in the third and then drilled another against Sabathia in the sixth on a misplaced 0 and 2 fastball that was supposed to be up-and-in. Instead, he caught too much of the plate.

The first home run pitch was supposed to be a fastball down-and-away that wound up over the middle of the plate.

During his seven innings, Sabathia walked three, fanned six and allowed four hits.

"Three walks," he said. "I was behind everybody. I wish I could stand here and say it was just two pitches.

"I was able to battle back and make pitches when I had to, but that's not how I've been pitching this postseason."

Sabatahia came into the game with a 3-0 postseason record and 1.19 ERA. Girardi has not announced his starting pitchers beyond Game 3 Saturday in Philadelphia, but Sabathia is expected to start Games 1, 4 and 7 for the Yankees. He threw 113 pitches in Game 1, 70 for strikes.

Posted on: October 27, 2009 5:15 pm
 

Yanks go Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte and TBD

NEW YORK -- There seems to be little doubt that the Yankees will hand the ball to CC Sabathia for Games 1, 4 and 7 in the World Series against Philadelphia, with his latter two starts each coming on short (three days') rest.

After that is where the questions begin.

Namely, would the Yankees deem A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte each capable of starting on short rest (Burnett in Game 5, Pettitte in Game 6) and go with a three-man rotation?

Or will they decide that's a bad risk and take a different kind of chance, starting Chad Gaudin in Game 5 even though his last start came nearly a month ago, back on Sept. 28?

On a rainy and chilly Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, New York manager Joe Girardi only committed to the first three games of his first World Series as a skipper. Girardi says Burnett (Game 2) and Pettitte (Game 3) will follow Sabathia.

As for Game 4, Girardi said, "You look at the guys that you have. Chad is probably built up more than anyone. You look at where you're at and you make decisions as you go. You try to plan it out that it's going to work the way you want it to. But sometimes, as we saw in the last series, that doesn't always happen. So you have to be flexible, but you make plans."

Gaudin worked a simulated game following the Yankees workout on Tuesday. Dave Eiland, the Yankees' pitching coach, said the club intended to "stretch him out as best we can, weather permitting." The Yankees were hoping to extend Gaudin to the 70- to 80-pitch range.

Eiland said that if the Yankees do opt to start Gaudin, expecting him to throw somewhere between 85 and 90 pitches is reasonable.

"If we start him and say we want 120, 125 pitches, that's a stretch," Eiland said.

Gaudin, who went 6-10 with a 4.64 ERA in 2009 with the Padres and Yankees, has thrown as many as 100 pitches in a game just once since July 21, that coming on Sept. 16 against Toronto.

Neither Burnett nor Pettitte worked on fewer than four days' rest between starts this season. However, the Yankees did use September to give each of them, as well as Sabathia, extra days between some starts in an effort to keep them fresh during the postseason.

"We prepared for this," Eiland said. "We had the luxury of some off days in September because we clinched relatively early. Most of our starters got extra days off in September."

As for Sabathia, Girardi did not commit to giving him three starts in this series. Reading between the lines, it sounds as if the Yankees manager wants to see where his team stands in the series following the first couple of games before committing.

"CC is a guy that we asked to go on three days' once, and if you start asking guys too much, you worry about the quality of work," Girardi said. "It's something that we have to weigh over the next few days. We don't have to make a decision for awhile."

Posted on: October 21, 2009 5:22 pm
 

Ill Jeter still raking

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Derek Jeter isn't faring too badly in this AL Championship Series, batting .286 with two homers, three RBI, a .348 on-base percentage and three runs in four games.

Especially when you consider he's sick.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi revealed at Wednesday's workout day before Game 5 on Thursday that his shortstop has been under the weather for several days.

"He has been," fighting a bug, Girardi said. "It kind of started ... what is today, Wednesday? I noticed it on Monday. And he was pretty sick.

"He was still pretty sick [Tuesday]. I'm hoping that he feels better, but it didn't seem to affect him Monday in his first at-bat."

Jeter cracked a leadoff homer on Monday in Game 3 on the third pitch of the game from Jered Weaver.

"That's just the type of player that Derek is," Girardi said. "He's tough."

Posted on: September 10, 2009 6:41 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2009 6:42 pm
 

Short Hops: The Sequel

 Why the Dodgers are still first in the NL West: Thanks to gritty starting pitching and a stellar bullpen, they're surrendered four or fewer runs in 27 of their past 29 games.

 The Dodgers' latest challenge: Lefty Randy Wolf, their most consistent starter this season, has a sore left elbow and will skip the opener of this weekend's big series in San Francisco. So, to review: Wolf is ailing, Chad Billingsley appears to have hit a wall and youngster Clayton Kershaw (non-pitching shoulder) is skipping a start.

 The way things stand today, it'll all eyes on the field generals come October: The managers from the eight clubs would comprise the most experienced group of managers in one postseason since the wild-card format started in 1995. Jim Leyland, Mike Scioscia, Terry Francona, Charlie Manuel, Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and Jim Tracy will have combined for 51 postseason appearances (including 2009), 17 pennants, 11 World Series titles and 11 manager of the year awards. (The Yankees' Joe Girardi would be the lone man of the eight to have never managed in a postseason).

 Reasons why the AL West race is not a foregone conclusion: Sure, the Angels lead Texas by 4 1/2 games with little more than three weeks remaining, BUT: While the Angels still have four games left with the Yankees, three against Boston and seven against the Rangers, Texas' mix includes six games against Seattle (72-68) and three against Tampa Bay (72-68), decidedly less fierce than that Yankees-Red Sox tango. And the Rangers have beaten the Angels in nine of 12 games so far this summer.

 Reasons why the AL West race could be a foregone conclusion: While the above is true, so, too, is this: While the Angels are only 19-23 against the AL West this season, they're 24-12 against the AL East. Texas is 24-13 against the AL West and 25-19 against the AL East.

 Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson both think left-hander Francisco Liriano, 5-12 with a 5.80 ERA this summer, is going to come back strong in 2010 based on being two years out (by then) from Tommy John ligament transfer sugery. Liriano finally has regained his strength but couldn't repeat pitches this summer, especially his slider. "He'd throw two nasty sliders and then not get on top of the next one, leave it down in the zone and whack," Gardenhire says.

 He's out now with a plantar fascia injury, but Kyle Blanks has made a good early impression in San Diego (10 homers and 22 RBIs in 54 games). And it's easy to see why the 6-6, 285-pounder was who Tampa Bay targeted in trade talks last spring when the Padres came asking about right-handers Jason Hammel and Jeff Niemann. The Rays' answer was no, and Tampa subsequently wound up dealing Hammel to Colorado for minor-league pitcher Aneury Rodriguez on April 5. Rodriguez went 9-11 with a 4.50 ERA, with 111 strikeouts and only 59 walks over 142 innings pitched (27 starts), for Double-A Montgomery this summer.

 Maybe the Royals should zero in on second baseman Placido Polanco this winter on the free agent market. The Tigers' infielder is batting .337 (66 for 196) with 10 doubles, a triple, two homers and 24 RBI in 45 career games at Kauffman Stadium. The .337 average is seventh among active major leaguers at the K.

 Only two AL pitchers since 1988 have won 12 or more games in a season before turning 21: Seattle's Felix Hernandez and, now, Detroit's Rick Porcello. In Motown, Porcello's 12 wins is the most in one season by a Tiger 20 years old or younger since Dave Rozema won 11 in 1977 before he turned 21 that Aug. 5.

 Boston general manager Theo Epstein's line about the possibility of Curt Schilling running for Senate in the spot vacated by the late Ted Kennedy, that Schilling "would be good at filibustering", is one of the summer's classics.

 Bob Watson, vice-president of major league baseball's on-field operations, is recovering from back surgery this week.

 Hilarious piece on a new Jeter "movie", Pride of the Yankees 2, from my buddy Jim Caple.

Likes:
Looking forward to reading Cardboard Gods: An American Tale Told Through Baseball Cards by Josh Wilker, due out next spring. Anybody who's ever read Wilker's Cardboard Gods Web site knows the guy can write. I read the Prologue and an excerpt written around the Rudy Meoli Topps 1975 No. 533 card and the book, part-memoir, part-Valentine to baseball, and based on what I've seen written about it, it looks like a winner. ... Here's a New York Times piece on Wilker. ... St. Mary Catholic Central High School (Monroe, Mich.) gained a nice bounceback win over Riverview last week and travels to Flat Rock to face the Rams on Friday night. Nice job so far by Coach Jack Giarmo's Falcons.

Dislikes: I'm already stocked up with reasons enough, but Ellen DeGeneres signing on with American Idol gives me one more reason not to watch.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Back then it was beautiful
The boys were sweet and musical
The laser lights looked mystical
Messed up stuff felt magical
Girls didn't seem so difficult
Boys didn't seem so typical
It was warm and white and wonderful
We were all invincible"

-- The Hold Steady, Joke About Jamaica

 

 
 
 
 
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