Results tagged ‘ Joe Torre ’

Sunday marks 66th Old Timers’ Day at Stadium

Nearly 50 former players, managers and coaches of the Yankees plus the widows of five of the most prominent team alumni will be on hand at the 66th annual Old-Timers’ Day Sunday, July 1, at Yankee Stadium.

Ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 11:15 a.m. with the traditional Old-Timers’ game to follow, both of which will be aired exclusively on the YES Network. The Yankees will then play the White Sox at 2:05 p.m., also on YES. General public gates will open to ticket-holding guests at 10 a.m. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 11 a.m. for the festivities.

The Old Timers are headlined by several members of past Yankees’ World Series championship clubs, including Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson and Reggie Jackson. Former Yankees and current YES Network broadcasters David Cone, Paul O’Neill and Lou Piniella will also be part of the program.

Also invited back are former Yankees managers Joe Torre and Stump Merrill. For Merrill, who currently serves as a Special Assistant to the General Manager, it will mark his first Old-Timers’ Day appearance. Gene Monahan, who retired at the end of the 2011 season after serving as a trainer in the Yankees organization for 49 years, will also make his Old-Timers’ Day debut.

Joining the Hall of Famers and former Yankees on the baselines will be the widows of five legendary Yankees—Arlene Howard, widow of Elston Howard; Helen Hunter, widow of Jim “Catfish” Hunter; Jill Martin, widow of Billy Martin; Diana Munson, widow of Thurman Munson and Kay Murcer, widow of Bobby Murcer.

Here is the full list of those scheduled to attend:

Luis Arroyo, Jesse Barfield, Yogi Berra, Ron Blomberg, Dr. Bobby Brown, Homer Bush, Jerry Coleman, David Cone, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, Cecil Fielder, Whitey Ford, Oscar Gamble, Jake Gibbs, Joe Girardi, Goose Gossage, Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Sterling Hitchcock, Arlene Howard, Helen Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Tommy John, Pat Kelly, Don Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Jill Martin, Tino Martinez, Lee Mazzilli, Stump Merrill, Gene Monahan, Diana Munson, Kay Murcer, Matt Nokes, Paul O’Neill, Joe Pepitone, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, Bobby Richardson, Mickey Rivers, Aaron Small, Mel Stottlemyre, Darryl Strawberry, Tanyon Sturtze, Ralph Terry, Joe Torre, Bob Turley, Roy White, Bernie Williams.

Nothing chicken-hearted about Yanks’ tough loss

For a while there, it looked as if Frank Francisco would not get into Friday night’s game. He is the Mets closer with the big mouth, the guy who before the Subway Series called the Yankees “chickens,” as quoted in the New York Post. Some of the Mets had fun with this, playing “The Chicken Dance” and other poultry-related tunes in the clubhouse before the game.

To their credit, the Yankees did not overreact to the charge, which Francisco based on his belief that the Yankee complain about everything. That’s rich. He plays for a team that tried to stick their own hero, third baseman David Wright, with an error on an official scoring change in an effort to get R.A. Dickey a no-hitter. Even Dickey was embarrassed by such a bush maneuver. Thank goodness Joe Torre, Major League Baseball’s vice president for baseball operations, upheld the original ruling.

The chances that Francisco would get into the game looked pretty slim after the Mets broke out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning and were up, 6-2, through seven. But Robinson Cano’s two-run home run in the eighth off Miguel Batista made it a two-run game, creating a save opportunity for Francisco.

The righthander had also said that he looked forward to striking out the side against them, which he apparently he did once some years ago. Francisco did manage to chalk up his 18th save in the Mets’ 6-4 victory, but there was nothing chicken-livered about the Yankees’ at-bats that inning.

Francisco got a huge boost from his center fielder, Andres Torres, who made a sensational running catch to rob Russell Martin of a potential extra-base hit at the start of the inning. The play loomed large when Francisco walked pinch hitter Raul Ibanez and gave up a lightning bolt of a single to left by Derek Jeter.

The one strikeout Francisco got that inning was indeed impressive, locking up Curtis Granderson on a 95-mph fastball. Francisco hit 95 on the gun twice more against Mark Teixeira, who made the last out on a pop to shortstop.

The Yankees’ third straight inter-league loss this week was particularly bitter because of the opponent, but Yankees fans can come away with some satisfaction that their team did not go down quietly. Plenty of other clubs might have folded up after trailing by five runs in the first inning, especially when opposing pitcher Jonathan Niese was throwing so well.

They used their greatest ally – the long ball – to make a game of it. Solo shots by Alex Rodriguez in the sixth and Andruw Jones in the seventh plus Cano’s bomb in the eighth had the Mets reeling after they had failed to knock out Pettitte, who tagged on five shutout innings after the first.

Wright doubled in the Mets’ only run after that first inning, and he was doubled up after a diving catch by Jones off a Scott Hairston liner in the seventh. Yes, it was a tough loss for the Yankees, but they did not complain about it.

Bernie to manage in All-Star Futures Game

Former Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams will be back in baseball action during All-Star Game Week when he will serve as manager of the World Team against Hall of Famer George Brett, who will manage the U.S. Team, in the Futures Game July 8 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, two days before the All-Star Game.

“I am very excited to be managing the World Team in the Futures Game,” Williams said. “This game has grown in stature so much through the years, and it is remarkable how many of the young men who have played and starred in this game have become stars in the game today. That will be the case with hopefully many of the players I will have the honor of managing in Kansas City.”

Williams was a member of four World Series-winning teams in his 16-season career with the Yankees. The Puerto Rico native was a four-time Gold Glove Award winner and has more RBI (80) than any player in postseason history.

The Royals have not been the host club for an All-Star Game since 1973, which was the same year that Brett made his major league debut. The former third baseman won three batting titles in three separate decades and ranks 16th on the all-time hits list (3,154). Brett, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999, has spent 19 seasons as KC’s vice president of baseball operations.
Brett, a 13-time All-Star, also managed the Futures Game in 2005, and said last month that he’s looking forward to being a part of the All-Star Game again.

“I’m excited to share the city and stadium I love with today’s All-Stars and baseball fans around the world,” said Brett, who played in 13 All-Star Games. “It’s an honor to be a part once again of the Midsummer Classic and baseball’s special celebration.”

The switch-hitting Williams batted .297 with 287 home runs. He won won the American League batting title with a .339 mark in 1998. Williams has not managed at any level. He said that he played for two of the best in Joe Torre and Buck Showalter. Torre even let Williams manage one game down the stretch as part of a tradition in which he allowed players to sit in his seat.

“I got to help make out the lineup and go to the mound and make the pitching changes, and make some decisions like to hit and run or lay down a bunt,” Bernie said. “It was a lot of fun, but I also saw how hard it was to manage, where you have to be following every pitch, but also thinking ahead a couple of innings and worrying about every player on the other bench. So, I have a great appreciation of what it takes to manage every single day.”

Brett and Williams will have plenty of help from experienced coaches. Brett will be assisted by minor-league Duane Espy, Tony Franklin, Mike Jirschele and Jim Pankovits. The pitching coach for the U.S. team will be Tom Filer, who works in that capacity for Triple-A Indianapolis.

Williams will have minor-league managers Arnie Beyeler, Steve Buechele, Darren Bush and Turner Ward on his staff, along with Double A Akron hitting coach Rouglas Odor and Triple A Columbus pitching coach Ruben Niebla.

Williams has said that he may consider managing at some point in the future, but for now he is busy pursuing his musical passions as both a touring and recording guitarist. The Futures Game, a one-day celebration of the game’s coming generation, provided an opportunity to get back into the game.

“Being from Puerto Rico, I have a special appreciation how the game of baseball has grown to truly be a global game,” he said. “I know I will have the honor of managing players from many different countries. What really made me want to do this was after being invited, I was told that the players who will be playing in this game grew up following players like me in my era. While it makes me feel old, it also brought a smile to my face. This is a great showcase of the stars of tomorrow, and I am just thrilled to be a part of it and look forward to spending a couple of days with these kids.”

Buck: No. 1 and No. 1,000 in the Bronx

Yankees fans of a certain age may remember where they were on the afternoon of April 7, 1992. I know it was 20 years ago, but think about it. I recall where I was that day, at Yankee Stadium for Opening Day the season after the Yankees lost 91 games and replaced their manager, Stump Merrill, with the previous year’s third base coach, a former minor-league designated hitter and manager by the name of William Nathaniel Showalter, known by family and friends as Nat and within baseball as Buck.

Not much was expected of the Yankees that season, and indeed they finished a mediocre 76-86. But they beat the Red Sox and Roger Clemens that day, 4-3, before a crowd of 56,572 with the final out recorded by Steve Farr on a foul pop by Jody Reed. It was Showalter’s first victory as a major-league manager and the beginning of a startling six-game winning streak. Not too many managers are 6-0 before they lose a game.

I was reminded of just how long ago that was Tuesday night when the same Buck Showalter was back in the Bronx at the helm of the Orioles and earned his 1,000th big-league victory, this time at the expense of the Yankees, 7-1. Particularly satisfying for Buck was that his pitcher, hard-luck Brian Matusz, ended a 12-game losing streak with his first winning decision in 11 months.

“I’m kind of embarrassed,” Buck said afterwards. “It’s all about the players. But I’d be lying to say that it wasn’t emotional. Not a day goes by in this game that doesn’t tug at your emotions.”

Showalter enjoyed winning seasons with the Yankees in 1993, ’94 and ’95, earning American League Manager of the Year honors in the middle season that might have landed them in the World Series had the event not been canceled by commissioner Bud Selig because of a strike. The Yankees did make the playoffs in 1995 but lost to the Mariners in a tightly-played Division Series, the first of its kind in the new alignment.

After turning down a two-year contract extension, Showalter left the Yankees and was succeeded by Joe Torre, who took the Yankees to 10 division crowns, six pennants and four World Series titles in 12 years. Showalter moved on to Arizona as the expansion Diamondbacks first manager and then to Texas where he earned a second AL Manager of the Year Award in 2004. In between job, he manned the desk on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight programs.

Showalter may have missed out on the Yankees’ glory years, but this was a glorious night for him and his team, which is 15-9 and challenging for the top spot in the AL East.

“The significance is more about this being a game we wanted to win and get close to doing something this year that will be great for our fans in Baltimore, a great baseball town,” he said. “I am appreciative that Mr. [George] Steinbrenner gave me my first opportunity to manage in the big leagues. I’ll never forget that.”

Beyond a titanic home run by Curtis Granderson, it was not much of a night for the Yankees, who got another lackluster start from Phil Hughes, who pitched into the sixth but gave up four runs, so his ERA came down only slightly, from 7.88 to 7.48, with his record falling to 1-4.

Battery creates positive sparks

Not that Yankees manager Joe Girardi would ever concede that he allow pitchers to have their favorite catcher, but backup backstop Chris Stewart was again behind the plate Sunday in a game started by CC Sabathia. It marked the third consecutive game Stewart has caught Sabathia. The Yankees have won all three games.

“We’ve been on the same page,” Sabathia said after his sturdy, eight-inning effort in a 6-2 Yanks victory over Detroit. “This is the second straight game that I didn’t shake him off. He has been calling great games. He also catches me on my throw days in the bullpen. It’s a good deal.”

Girardi didn’t get into the issue back in the 1990s when he was the Yankees’ regular catcher but manager Joe Torre allowed Jim Leyritz, then the backup, to work behind the plate regularly with Andy Pettitte. But then, even Girardi has succumbed to that situation when he had Francisco Cervelli work regularly with A.J Burnett the past two years.

Yet the skipper maintained that Sabathia and Stewart is not a permanent battery despite the success. Sabathia was 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA in his first two starts with regular Russell Martin behind the plate and is 3-0 with a 3.47 ERA in his three starts with Stewart catching.

“It has just kind of worked out that way,” Girardi said. “I think it’s easier for a backup catcher who is only going to catch once or maybe twice a week to work with only one or two starters.”

Sabathia’s performance was just what Girardi and the Yankees needed Sunday after the bullpen was spent from working 7 1/3 innings Saturday and 4 2/3 innings Friday night. Except for David Robertson, who pitched the ninth, the guys in the pen had a day off, thanks to CC, who scattered four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.

Prince Fielder homered off a hanging slider in the fourth inning, and Miguel Cabrera rapped a run-scoring double in the sixth. Considering the damage those two can do, Sabathia had a good day. The Yankees’ offense, which has bailed out so many starters this year with seven comeback victories, stalled for CC somewhat Sunday as 15 runners were stranded, but home runs by Curtis Granderson and Andruw Jones and two RBI from Alex Rodriguez proved sufficient support.

A-Rod moved past Willie Mays on the career RBI list into eighth place with 1,904. Derek Jeter had two infield hits to flirt with .400 again at .396, and Robinson Cano showed signs of coming out of his early-season doldrums with two well-struck singles and an RBI.

On the downside, however, was an injury to Nick Swisher, who has been the Yankees’ most productive hitter (.284, 9 doubles, 6 home runs, 23 RBI) but had to come out of the game in the third inning after drawing a walk. An MRI revealed a low-grade strain of the left hamstring that will keep him out of action for several days.

The Yankees inserted Jones in left field and moved Raul Ibanez to right, an arrangement that may continue during the upcoming three-game series against the Orioles at the Stadium unless the Yanks dip into the minors for temporary help. Brett Gardner (strained right elbow) is not due to come off the 15-day disabled list until Thursday.

Posada leaves quite a legacy

Here is how some of the people who crossed Jorge Posada’s path feel about the former Yankees catcher who made his retirement as a baseball player official Tuesday:

Bernie Williams: “I want to congratulate ‘Jorgito’ on an outstanding career. He was one of the greatest catchers of his era, and one of the best Puerto Rican players to ever play the game. He was a great teammate, is a great friend and human being, and will always be a great Yankee. I was honored to take the field with him every day for so many years, and I cherish all the memories we have together, topped off by those World Series championships. Frankly, I can’t believe that ‘Jorgito’ is actually announcing his retirement before I do. Seriously, I wish him, Laura, and the kids happiness and success in their future. He will be missed by the Yankees family, all of his teammates, coaches, and most of all, the great Yankee fans.”

Andy Pettitte: “Jorge was obviously one of the heart and soul pieces of all those championships with us. Everyone brings their own style to the table but Jorge played with so much fire and intensity, and you have to have all the different mixes of personalities on a team to be able to win the way we did. The intensity that he brought on a daily basis to the field was just amazing to watch. He was one of the greatest teammates I’ve ever played with and a great friend and a great person. The fans loved Jorge because of the passion he played with. He didn’t try to hide it, and he didn’t make up excuses. He’s a stand-up guy, and if he wasn’t able to get it done, he would say ‘I didn’t get it done.’ He handled all the victories and all the success with class and never made excuses for anything. Fans love that. They love to see you be real and passionate. When you’re like that in New York, you’re going to be loved, that’s for sure.”

Tino Martinez: “Jorge was one of the cornerstones of all those championship teams, handling the pitching staff all those years. The way he prepared every single day assured that he became the best player he could possibly be. He’s going to go down as one of the greatest all-time Yankees. It’s very rare that somebody comes up through the minor league system with the Yankees and plays 17 years with the club. He did it the right way as a true professional, a great teammate and a great baseball player.”

Yogi Berra: “Jorge is a good kid, and he had a wonderful career. He has always been one of the toughest and most passionate guys on the club. The Yankees don’t win those championships without him.”

Alex Rodriguez: “Jorge has bled the pinstripes for a long, long time, and he played with a passion that certainly rubbed off on his teammates. To play the number of games that he did, at the level he did, year in and year out, at the toughest position on the field, is a credit to his commitment to his craft. He left everything out on the field, and that’s what made him special.”

Gene Michael: “I remember when we switched Jorge in the minors from second base to catcher. I always got reports of his improvement. Jorge was a worker – someone who was always in shape and who you didn’t have to worry about. Even from the beginning, I loved how selective he was at the plate, his power, his strong arm and the fact that he was a switch-hitter. In my tenure as general manager [from Aug. 1990 through Oct. 1995], I never talked about him in a trade. In the big leagues, he provided big time offensive production, and you never had to platoon him. He was tough, durable and the little things just didn’t bother him. He was a lot like Thurman [Munson] in that way.”

Gene Monahan: “Jorge Posada is far beyond your true, loyal Yankee. Jorge lives this team, organization and city. A family man unmatched, his love for family and team is shown every single day, and I’ve been there every step of the way to witness and testify to it. Jorgie’s sense of humor with his teammates and especially with me, in spite of countless painful days, has always been refreshing and energizing. He always helped us to excel, succeed and enjoy the game the way it’s supposed to be. His career blessed us. On Opening Day 2010, it was Jorge Posada who singlehandedly took his team and the entire Yankee Stadium crowd to a place that was humbling beyond expression, when he lovingly honored me. Every day for the remainder of my life, I will remember and reflect on his love, as he brought it out from our team and our fans. There is no real way to adequately express the emotion of that moment and what it meant to me.”

Joe Torre: “Jorge Posada has been a winner during the season, the postseason and in the clubhouse. He is a loyal and devoted Yankee and is a champion in the game of life. I will always treasure the time I spent with him.”

David Wells: “Jorge was exceptional behind the plate. He gave you so much in terms of his target, working the umpires, and with the level of communication that he had. To me, the pitcher has to be comfortable and in-sync with the catcher. He fought with me, worked with me, and knew the counts. If I didn’t see something that he did, I would shake off his sign, and he would just put down the same sign again. Whenever that happened, I realized that he knew something I didn’t. It speaks to the trust I had in him. He always wanted the pitcher to feel as comfortable as he could. That’s why in my mind, he was the greatest catcher.”

Mike Piazza: “I’d like to congratulate Jorge on a fantastic career. As two catchers playing in New York at the same time, I was able to get to know him over the years and appreciate everything he brought to the table. He was a general behind the plate and delivered in the clutch when it mattered most. I wish him well on his retirement.”

Jason Varitek: “After hundreds of head-to-head games during the regular season and the postseason, I can’t say I respect and admire anyone at our position more than I do Jorge. The hard work and preparation he put into catching is a huge reason he has five championships on his resume. He is a true grinder.”

Arlene Howard (widow of Elston): “Jorge has carried on the tradition of great Yankees catchers most notably Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard and Thurman Munson. Jorge has lived up to the tradition of great Yankees catchers.”

Paul O’Neill: “Jorge was one of my most favorite teammates of all time. He was into winning. He was mentally tough, physically tough, and he was never scared. It means a lot that he is retiring as a Yankee. As the seasons go on, I think people will realize how important he was to the team, and how big a role he played in the Yankees’ success over the years. He was a great teammate and a fun guy off the field. I had a lot of fun with Jorge. I have all the respect in the world for him. He is going to be considered for the Hall of Fame, and any time people talk about you that way, it tells you what type of player you are.”

Al Leiter: “Jorge was an unbelievable competitor, one of the fiercest competitors I’ve seen in a long time. He was always tough to face when I was pitching. He made me work hard, like when he drew a leadoff walk against me in the 2000 World Series [I still think I got him on that 3-2 pitch!]. On the flip side, I loved having him as a teammate in 2005. He had a special drive and a special will to win, which is a throwback to the old days. You always knew what to expect with Jorge. He wasn’t flashy. He was just immensely talented and a great leader.”

John Flaherty: “Jorge was the ultimate teammate, someone who always put the team before himself. He wasn’t a vocal leader; rather, he let his actions speak for themselves. It was an honor sharing the Yankees clubhouse with him, and my time with him was made even more special since we were both catchers. He handled himself with such class on the field and in the clubhouse. When I think of what the New York Yankees represent, I think of Jorge. Class. Humility. Tough as nails. Fierce competitor. That’s Jorge Posada.”

Derek Jeter: “I know how he feels, I know how much he cares. That’s what people are going to miss. I think that’s what the fans are going to miss. You can’t fake it. The fans appreciated him so much because he cared about winning, he cared about doing his job.”

Mariano Rivera: “It’s hard, playing with teammates like that and they’re retiring. That’s telling you one thing: your time will come. Bernie and Andy and now Jorge. . .it was a blessing to me to play with all these men that I love.”

Protest comes too late for Yanks

Former Yankees manager Joe Torre, now Major League Baseball’s vice president for baseball operations, acknowledged Thursday that the umpires made the wrong call in the third inning Wednesday night at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium that credited Royals designated hitter Billy Butler with a home run. The run proved crucial as the Yankees lost, 5-4.

What was left unsaid was what Torre would have ruled had Yankees manager Joe Girardi lodged a protest over the umpires’ call. The only satisfaction Girardi got was that the umpiring crew at least reviewed the play on video replay, which did not help because they upheld the original ruling.

Girardi’s reputation as a clean Marine kind of guy worked against him here. He took crew chief Dana DeMuth at his word that he knew the ground rules. It turns out that DeMuth completely misinterpreted the ground rules. Right after the game, umpiring supervisor Steve Palermo met with the four umpires at the scene of the crime, a clear indication that something was amiss.

But since Girardi did not protest the upheld ruling before the next pitch, the Yankees had no recourse after the fact. They were left merely with the empty satisfaction of knowing they were correct in their objection to the call. You can be sure than a Billy Martin or a Lou Piniella would have protested the call on the spot. Girardi would have been wise to listen to his own first base coach, Mick Kelleher. He had been at the plate meeting before the first game of the series when ground rules at Kauffman were discussed and that issue specifically was addressed by Killer, who was told that a ball had to clear the green barrier to be considered a home run.

So what can the Yankees do about it now? Nothing. The best thing is to look ahead, not back. Yes, it was a one-run loss in a game in which the opposition got one more run than it should have. The Yankees had plenty of chances to win the game, but their starting pitcher, Bartolo Colon, struggled, and their hitters were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Jorge Posada kept his bat on the shoulder in making the last out of the game with the bases loaded.

That game is history. The Yankees need to regroup Thursday night in Minneapolis. There’s a good chance whoever was representing the Yankees in the pre-game meeting with the umpiring crew was paying extremely close attention to the ground rules at Target Field.

HOPE Week honors Tuesday’s Children

Mariano Rivera, Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes, Cory Wade and Steve Garrison along with former Yankees manager Joe Torre honored Tuesday’s Children by surprising them Tuesday at the Beekman Beach Club at the South Street Seaport for lunch, games and a ride on the Delta Baseball Water Taxi.

The boat ride took them past the Statue of Liberty and on to Yankee Stadium where the recipients were the team’s special guests for the game against the Mariners. The event was a continuation of HOPE Week.

Tuesday’s Children was founded in the year after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 to promote healing and recovery. The organization established a unique mentoring program. Serving greater New York’s tri-state region, its mentorship program supports relationships between affected children and adult role models who themselves have lost family through tragic circumstances. More than 175 children have participated in the program, including 50 who are currently part of active mentoring relationships.

The relationships support the emotional and social growth as mentors share coping skills and act as a shoulder to lean on. The pairs meet at least twice a month. The get-togethers are informal, involving anything from going to the movies, playing at a park or just hanging out in the house.

During Tuesday’s beach party, Keith Pryde of Middletown, N.Y., was honored as Tuesday’s Children’s “Mentor of the Year.” He was matched with Robert 10, in February 2008. One year earlier, Keith lost his sister in the April 2007 Virginia Tech campus shootings. His mentee, Robert, was born a month before his father, a foreign exchange broker at Cantor Fitzgerald, was killed Sept. 11. Keith and his fiancée, Rebecca, are engaged to be married in September 2012, with Robert set to serve as their ring bearer.

Commissioner comes to Jeter’s defense

PHOENIX – Derek Jeter’s name has been bandied about quit a quite a bit at the All-Star Game, and it has not always been flattering. Several team officials and a few players have commented that Jeter should have come here for the game even if he did not intend to play. The situation got to the point that commissioner Bud Selig felt it was necessary for him to nip it in the, well, bud.

The commish made his annual appearance at the Baseball Writers’ Association of America meeting Tuesday afternoon at the Sheraton Phoenix Hotel for a question-and-answer session with the writers and addressed the controversy surrounding Jeter, who decided not to come here so that he could use the time to rest his right calf to be ready for the second half.

“There isn’t a player than I’m more proud of in the last 15 years than Derek Jeter,” Selig said before taking questions. “He has played the game like it should be played. He is even a better human being off the field than he is a great player on the field. I know why Derek Jeter isn’t here, and I respect that. I think I would have made the same decision Derek Jeter did.

“He has brought to this sport great pride. He has been a role model. He has earned it, and he keeps earning it. Any suggestion that I or anybody else around here is unhappy with him not being here is false. I am proud of what he has done. I told him that Saturday when I spoke with him on the phone [after getting his 3,000th hit], and I have told him that quite often.”

Sitting at the front table while Selig spoke was the vice president of baseball operations, a fellow named Joe Torre, who was Jeter’s first manager with the Yankees, and nodded with approval at the commissioner’s every sentence.

I was glad to hear Bud go on the record about this matter because some of the talk the day before during the workouts was a bit nasty. More than one player suggested that Jeter was not grateful to the fans for voting him into the American League starting lineup when he didn’t really deserve it. For all we know, DJ’s choice not to play could have been one way to assure that the Indians’ Asdrubal Cabrera got to start the game.

There is nothing new about players passing up the All-Star Game for health reasons. I have been around Derek Jeter for 16 years and know how much he enjoys going to the All-Star Game and all the festivities around it. He has always considered his Most Valuable Player Award from the 2000 game at Turner Field in Atlanta one of the top moments of his career (although not as much as his World Series MVP the same year in the Yankees’ triumph over the Mets).

Jeter just got over a three-week recovery period from a strained calf muscle. He is 37, not 27, and has been under a ton of pressure to get over the 3,000-hit hump at Yankee Stadium rather than disappoint his fans by reaching the milestone on the road. This was all pretty draining, so cut him some slack. DJ would rather sit out a game that doesn’t count in the standings than not be as close to 100 percent as possible in a Yankees regular-season game.

One player here told me one of the reasons some players were sniping at Jeter is because they wanted to get autographs themselves from the newest member of the 3,000 Hit Club. At All-Star Games, players are signing all kinds of things, from baseballs to pictures to gloves to bats, you name it. There are quite a few items that are signed by every player on a league roster, which are a lot more valuable if a player who just reached 3,000 career hits is on there.

An All-Star who summed up the situation best was White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, who said, “I promise you his injury is not 100 percent. Nobody ever comes back from an injury in the middle of the season at 100 percent. It’s never gone. So he’s playing with it, I guarantee you that. It is one of those things where I understand people voted him in and wanted to see him, but if there is any guy in the game who bought a rain check for one of these, he’s the one. Let’s move on and not make such a big deal about it.”

And believe it or not, Yankees fans, another of the Captain’s major supporters was Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. “If he’s not here, there’s a good reason for it,” Big Papi said.

I wrote the other day that what Jeter and Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodriguez were doing by not coming to the All-Star Game while nursing ailments was justified. As for coming out here just to wave to the fans, well, that would have been nice (except for A-Rod, who would have to leave a hospital bed), but what would be the point?

In an indirect way, Mo’s decision allowed AL manager Ron Washington of the Rangers to make an All-Star of David Robertson, which was fitting. A lot of the people who were criticizing Jeter had no explanation for why CC Sabathia was not an obvious choice for the AL staff based on his pitching in the first half. You can’t have it both ways, guys.

Cano’s ‘Derby’ win a family affair

PHOENIX — The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry extended to the All-Star Home Run Derby Monday night at Chase Field. Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano beat Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in the annual power-hitting event, 32 home runs to 31.

It got pretty dramatic. In the first round, Gonzalez hit nine home runs and Cano eight. Cano hit 12 in the second round to Gonzalez’s 11, so each had 20 going into the final round. Gonzalez, whose pitcher was Indians manager Manny Acta, banged out 11 in the third round, which placed quite a challenge to Cano.

Cheered on by Yankees teammates Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin and David Robertson and with his father, Jose Cano, pitching to him, Robinson more than met the challenge by slamming 12 home runs, the most in any final round, to come out on top. It was quite a display by someone who has only the third highest home run total on his team.

“It means a lot to me,” Robinson said. “To be in the big leagues, I get to face him back home in the offseason. He is the kind of guy who is always there for me, not only as a dad but also a friend. Who better deserves than him to be there for me to throw BP?”

The American League dominated the competition, which made AL captain David Ortiz of the Red Sox look like a genius since he picked Gonzalez and Cano for the competition. The AL outslugged the National League, 76-19. It was a bit weird in an NL park that the captain of that league’s quartet, Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, was booed throughout the contest because Diamondbacks fans were upset that he did not choose local favorite Justin Upton to take part.

The senior Cano, 49, who also pitched batting practice to Ortiz, was signed by the Yankees in 1980 but eventually released. He wound up pitching in the major leagues in 1989, for the Astros appearing in six games, including three starts, and had 1-1 record with a 5.09 ERA.

Robinson Cano’s performance just might make AL manager Ron Washington of the Rangers re-think his batting order. Cano is scheduled to bat eighth for the AL. Granderson will bat leadoff.

Cano is the third Yankees player to win the competition, joining Jason Giambi in 2002 at Miller Park in Milwaukee and Tino Martinez in 1997 at Jacobs (now Progressive) Field in Cleveland.

Joe Torre, the former Yankees manager who was the AL manager at the All-Star Games in which Tino and the Giambino won the Home Run Derbies, presented the award to Cano in his new role as vice president for baseball operations.


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