Results tagged ‘ Jorge Posada ’

How appropriate; Jeter wins his last Stadium game

So it turned out what Derek Jeter needed most in his final game at Yankee Stadium was Mariano Rivera. Then again, if Mo had been available to close out Thursday night’s game, it might not have had the dramatic finish it did.

Appropriate is the key word to describe the finish of the Yankees’ 6-5 victory over the Orioles in the Captain’s last appearance in the home pinstripes. All week long Yankees manager Joe Girardi was asked what gesture he was contemplating for Jeter’s farewell. The skipper kept saying he would consult with Jeter, who did the one thing he has always done over 20 seasons in the major leagues — play the game until the last out.

Who else was better to win Jeter’s Stadium finale than Jeter? He fought back emotion in the last two innings after the Yankees had grabbed a three-run lead but reverted to the cool demeanor that has defined him to be in place to get the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was achieved with his familiar inside-out swing, a single to right field that delivered pinch runner Antoan Richardson to the plate to end as astonishing an evening as there ever has been at either Yankee Stadium.

David Robertson, who succeeded Rivera as the Yankees’ closer, had a nightmare of a ninth inning by giving up a two-run home run to Adam Jones and a solo shot with two out to Steve Pearce that tied the score and threatened to ruin the night for Jeter. Rivera as well as other old teammates Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Tino Martinez and Gerald Williams and former manager Joe Torre were in attendance as well as Derek’s parents and his sister and nephew among a crowd of 48,613, the largest this year at the Stadium.

The blown save actually created the possibility that Jeter could be the hero. He had already contributed to the Yankees’ attack with a run-scoring double in the first inning and an RBI fielder’s choice in the seventh when the Yankees went up by a 5-2 score.

Imagine if Girardi had sent Brendan Ryan out to play shortstop in the top of the ninth to let Jeter get a standing ovation leaving the field? What a revolting development that would have been.

Two minor-league call-ups helped frame the bottom of the ninth for the Yankees. Jose Pirela led off with a single past third base. Richardson ran for Pirela and was sacrificed to second by Brett Gardner. I will not use the phrase “those remaining in the crowd” because I doubt anyone left the game before it ended. Up came Jeter to another crescendo of cheers. That was nothing compared to what came next. Jeter’s single was worth the price of every expensive ticket, the hottest one all year in New York.

His current teammates mobbed Jeter on the base path between first while his former comrades looked on approvingly. Hugs and high fives abounded. Jeter walked around the infield waving his cap in acknowledging the fans in every section of the Stadium.

He then walked slowly to the shortstop position, the only one he has ever played on a major-league diamond, and squatted in an almost religious gesture. He said afterward that he will not play shortstop again. He will go to Boston for the Yankees’ final three games of the season and out of respect for Red Sox fans plans to play but as a designated hitter only.

Jeter’s last season was nowhere near his best, but at 40 playing one of the game’s most demanding positions he stayed healthy and made it through 143 of the team’s 159 games. His hit gave the Yankees victory No. 82, guaranteeing them a winning season for the 22nd consecutive year. Jeter never had a losing season in the majors. The Captain also saved his best for last. In his final home stand, Jeter batted .353 with five runs, four doubles, one home run and nine RBI in 34 at-bats.

His Stadium numbers are also impressive. Jeter played in 1,390 regular-season games in the Bronx — 1,004 at the old Stadium and 386 at the current Stadium. He combined to hit .313 with 1,012 runs, 273 doubles, 30 triples, 138 home runs, 666 RBI and 193 stolen bases in 5,514 at-bats.

It is hard to believe that this tremendous career has come to an end. I was able to get a quiet moment with DJ before the game. I am not going to Boston and wanted to say my goodbyes and tell him how much I enjoyed watching him play and thank him for his cooperation over the years.

It was also the end of an era. Jeter, Posada, Pettite, Rivera and Bernie Williams are the only players I have covered in a 40-year career as a baseball writer from their first day of spring training to their last game at Yankee Stadium. They are the Core Four Plus One. Jeter’s retirement ends all that. But what an ending!

Jeter still playing despite retirement party

Gerald Williams, Cal Ripken Jr., Dave Winfield, Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter. (New York Post photo)

Gerald Williams, Cal Ripken Jr., Dave Winfield, Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter.
(New York Post photo)

Derek Jeter saved the best for last. Another ceremony at Yankee Stadium, this one to commemorate the 20-year career of the shortstop who now holds many of the legendary franchise’s records, was drawing to a close.

Microphone still in hand, Jeter began walking off the field and said into it, “We got a game to play.”

Perfect. Sure, it was nice to have his parents, his grandmother, his sister, his nephew and a slew of old teammates and pals on the field to celebrate his impending retirement. But the actual fact will not occur until the last game of the 2014 season. The Yanks had a game Sunday afternoon against a Royals team they are competing against for a post-season berth, and Jeter was in the lineup.

That is what Jeter has always been about. As his former manager, Joe Torre, said before the game, “Derek was always ready to play every day. A manager knew he could count on him.”

Torre was among those closest to Jeter back at the Stadium for the ceremonies, along with former teammates Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Mariano Rivera, David Cone, Bernie Williams, Gerald Williams, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui and Tim Raines; Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson; former trainer Gene Monahan; MLB Network broadcaster and former infielder Harold Reynolds and commissioner-elect Rob Manfred.

The Yankees had a few surprises for DJ by trotting out Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Dave Winfield and hoops legend Michael Jordan. The Steinbrenner family presented several gifts, including a Waterford Crystal tower with Jeter’s No. 2 atop it and a check for $222,222.22 donated to his Turn2 Foundation.

“It’s hard to believe 20 seasons have gone by so quickly,” Jeter said to the sellout crowd. “I want to take a brief moment to thank the Steinbrenner family and Mr. George Steinbrenner for giving me the opportunity to play my entire career with the only organization I wanted to play for.

“I thank my family and friends for all their support through the good times and more importantly through the tough times. All my managers, coaches, trainers and teammates current and former, I have been blessed to play with the best. I would not want to compete without you guys.

“Thank you fans for helping me feel like a kid the past 20 years. I got to be the shortstop of the New York Yankees, and there is only one of those. I have loved what I have done and loved to do it in front of you. From the bottom of my heart thank you very much.”

Not much syrup, all on the mark and to the point. This is the Jeter all of us have watched and heard for two decades. What began Sunday was not just the passing of 20 years but that of an era. The Yankees’ most recent dynastic run of championships started in 1996, Jeter’s rookie season. What is harder to believe is that one of these days he will be in one of those seats for guests at Yankee Stadium events.

Throughout all those World Series triumphs from 1996 through 2009 and up to today Jeter has been the constant thread. Sunday was chosen by the Yankees to celebrate that career, but as Jeter plainly put it that career is not over yet.

As team captain, Jeter is the first to break from the dugout onto the field at the start of home games. He went into his similar trot Sunday, but when he reached his customary position at shortstop and turned around he noticed that he was the only player on the field.

His fellow starters had stayed back so that their captain could take center stage in front of the fans who have adored him all these years. Jeet then made a come-on gesture with his glove for the guys to get out there with him. Another Jeter trait: he has never believe he could do it alone. Once again, he was saying, ‘We got a game today.’ “

Derek Jeter banner unveiled in Great Hall at Yankee Stadium

Derek Jeter banner unveiled in Great Hall at Yankee Stadium

O’Neill finds deserving spot in Monument Park

Paul and Nevalee O'Neill unveil Monument Park plaque (USA Today photo)

Paul and Nevalee O’Neill unveil Monument Park plaque (USA Today photo)

Chants of “Paul O-Neill” returned to Yankee Stadium Saturday as the popular right fielder dubbed “The Warrior” by the late George Steinbrenner was honored on the field before the game to mark the dedication of a plaque that will hang in Monument Park, the 29th in that special gallery.

I do not know how many people thought such a day was possible back in 1993 when O’Neill joined the Yankees. Several National League scouts I talked to that spring wondered if O’Neill had the temperament for New York or that he was too temperamental to succeed under the glare of the city and its omnipresent media.

Gene Michael, the general manager at the time, swapped two-time All-Star outfielder Roberto Kelly for O’Neill, who had a .259 career batting average at the time and was known for his clashes with former manager Lou Piniella in Cincinnati. Michael certainly got the last laugh, didn’t he?

O’Neill absolutely blossomed in New York. Coming under the influence of Don Mattingly and Wade Boggs, O’Neill became a more selective hitter and in his second season with the Yankees won the American League batting title with a .359 average. He would go on to bat .303 over his nine seasons in New York and was a central figure in the Yankees’ four World Series titles in 1996, ’98, ’99 and 2000.

During the pre-game ceremony, O’Neill mentioned his daughter, Allie, was born the day before spring training began in 1996, “and to this believes she is the reason for our first championship.”

O’Neill was in the middle of those glorious seasons. There was his running catch on an aching hamstring for the final out of Game 5 of the 1996 World Series; his playing the clinching Game 4 of the ’99 Series 18 hours after the death of his father, Charlie; his 10-pitch at bat in drawing a walk off Mets closer Alfonso Benitez to start the game-tying rally in Game 1 of the 2000 Series, etc.

And, of course, Game 5 of the 2001 World Series, his last game at the Stadium, which he recalled in his speech.

“Now to you fans, a remarkable thing Nov. 1, 2001, Game 5 of the World Series out in right field and 50,000 people singing my name,” he said. “I want to thank you for one of the special nights of my life. Thank you, fans of New York.”

O’Neill’s sons, Andy and Aaron, were also on the field with their mother, Nevalee, and his mother, Virginia. Also participating were Michael, former trainer Gene Monahan, Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre and former teammates David Cone, Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera.

Two other former teammates, captain Derek Jeter and manager Joe Girardi, also made presentations to O’Neill on behalf of the team and the organization. Jeter presented a framed version of the plaque and Girardi a career milestone diamond ring with No. 21 in the center.

“The best thing that happened to all of us was playing for the New York Yankees,” O’Neill said.

The plaque reads:

PAUL ANDREW O’NEILL
“THE WARRIOR”

NEW YORK YANKEES
1993 – 2001

AN INTENSE COMPETITOR AND TEAM LEADER, O’NEILL WAS BELOVED FOR HIS RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF PERFECTION.

IN NINE SEASONS WITH THE YANKEES, HE WON FOUR WORLD SERIES AND MADE FOUR ALL-STAR TEAMS, COMPILING A .303 BATTING AVERAGE WITH 185 HOME RUNS AND 858 RBI.

WAS ALSO KNOWN FOR HIS STRONG ARM AND RELIABLE GLOVE IN RIGHT FIELD.

WON 1994 AL BATTING CROWN WITH A .359 AVERAGE.

DEDICATED BY THE
NEW YORK YANKEES
AUGUST 9, 2014

Fans responded to O’Neill’s energy, his blatant disdain for making an out, the all-out, full-throttle effort he gave on a daily basis.

Brandon McCarthy, who pitched well but ended up the losing pitcher in the Indians’ 3-0 victory, paid homage to O’Neill after the game. McCarthy was struck in the left foot by a batted ball but remained in the game. Asked if he thought he might have to come out of the game, McCarthy said, “This is Paul O’Neill Day, not a game to leave early day.”

I remember talking to O’Neill back when people were questioning whether this Ohio Buckeye could handle the pressure of New York where his sister, Molly, was already well known as a food writer for the New York Times.

“What a lot of folks didn’t realize is that it was actually easier for me in New York that it was in Cincinnati,” O’Neill said. “It’s tough to play in your home town. Right from the start, I was accepted here by the fans. I hope I gave back to them as much as they gave to me.”

I would say he did.

Paul O'Neill, Gene Michael, Gene Monahan, Joe Torre, Tino Martinez, David Cone, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada

Paul O’Neill, Gene Michael, Gene Monahan, Joe Torre, Tino Martinez, David Cone, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada

Tino turned out to be a legend, too

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The current issue of Yankees Magazine features an article I did on Tino Martinez, who was honored Saturday at Yankee Stadium with a plaque in Monument Park. Tino still couldn’t believe it until he finally got a look at the plaque itself.

​The inscription reads:

CONSTANTINO “TINO” MARTINEZ
NEW YORK YANKEES
1996 – 2001, 2005

KNOWN FOR HIS POWERFUL BAT AND SUPERLATIVE DEFENSE AT FIRST BASE, MARTINEZ WAS A FAN FAVORITE ON FOUR YANKEES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS. HIT TWO OF THE MOST MEMORABLE HOME RUNS IN YANKEES POSTSEASON HISTORY – A GRAND SLAM IN GAME 1 OF THE 1998 WORLD SERIES AND A GAME-TYING, NINTH-INNING HOMER IN GAME 4 OF THE 2001 FALL CLASSIC. AMASSED 192 HOME RUNS AND 739 RBI IN SEVEN SEASONS WITH THE CLUB.

DEDICATED BY THE
NEW YORK YANKEES
JUNE 21, 2014

I was thinking after I finished the interview with him for the piece that I must have talked with Tino hundreds of times and thought I knew everything there was to know about him. But what I was not aware of until that interview was that Martinez wanted to succeed Don Mattingly as the Yankees’ first baseman.

It is always a tough assignment for a player to come to a new team and try to replace a legend. There is an enormous amount of pressure in that situation. This is not to say Martinez did not feel that pressure because he certainly did. He could have avoided it. There were other clubs interested, the Cubs and the Padres specifically, who coveted Martinez if the Mariners indeed were going to trade him after the 1995 season.

The Yankees were, too, of course, and Martinez told his manager, Lou Piniella, that New York was where he wanted to be. That was the part of which I was not aware beforehand. Martinez actually pushed for the trade despite knowing that a huge spotlight would be foisted on him as the man to follow Donnie Baseball.

Tino explains in the article that he had the utmost respect for Mattyingly, but that he was retiring as a player and his team needed a new first baseman. Martinez said he felt it would have been different if Mattingly had become a free agent and signed with another team. The pressure then would have beeb worse. But Mattingly’s retirement left a void, and Martinez was anxious to try and fill it.

He did all the smart things, beginning with not wearing Mattingly’s old uniform No. 23, the same numeral Martinez wore in Seattle. I think Yankees fans appreciated that sign of respect right from the get-go.

Martinez pointed out in the article and reiterated Saturday that he got off to a slow start in ’96 and that fans did not warm up to him immediately. But once he took off, so did the fans, whom he thanked Saturday.

His former manager, Joe Torre, and teammates Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Paul O’Neill and David Cone plus former trainer Gene Monahan took part in the pregame ceremony in which Martinez continued to express surprise that he was so honored.

From now on, whenever he comes to Yankee Stadium Tino can stop by Monument Park and see that the plaque is more than a dream.

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D-Rob injury takes some glow off home opener

All the positive vibes from the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over the Orioles in Monday’s home opener were tainted somewhat by a singular does of bad news. David Robertson, who has been anointed this year as the success to Mariano Rivera as the Yankees’ closer, is headed for the disabled list because of a Grade 1 groin pull. But there was no truth to the rumor that the Yanks would not let Mo leave the building.

Rivera was on hand with “Core Four” partners Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada to help make Derek Jeter’s final home opener a cozy afternoon. Jeter missed the 2013 opener while recovering from ankle surgery, so he was really looking forward to this day. The Captain had his share of ups and downs, but the 4-2 final was all he cared about.

“I’ll take the win,” Jeter said.

The victory would have to come without Robertson’s input. When the ninth inning arrived, Yankees manager Joe Girardi turned to Shawn Kelley instead. He came through with a 1-2-3 inning to record his first career save in what was also his first ninth-inning save opportunity as a major leaguer.

Robertson apparently hurt his groin during Sunday’s game at Toronto when he picked up his second save of the season but did not say anything to the staff until he came to Yankee Stadium Monday and complained of soreness. An MRI test revealed the strain. Girardi said he would likely mix and match with the closer role, but Kelley the hardest thrower in the bullpen could be the first choice during the period D-Rob is down.

As he did all day, Jeter tried to put a positive spin on the news.

“It’s better to have it happen at the beginning of the season rather than at the middle or at the end,” he said. “I’m sure he’s disappointed, but from what I understand he’ll be fine.”

Jeter’s day was one of mixed results. He struck out twice and grounded into a double play, although a run did score on the twin killing. No RBI, but to DJ a run is a run. His only hit, a double to left leading off the fifth inning, contained its share of drama as well as the Captain jogged a bit going down the first-base line before he had to step it up and leg out a double on a close play at second base.

“I thought it was a home run at first and then that it might go foul because the wind was tricky,” Jeter said with a sly grin. “I knew then I had to pick up the pace. Hey, I was safe. It would have been really embarrassing if I was out. Some guys got on me until they hit some balls into that wind.”

Jeter was also amused that fans near the dugout cheered him right after he hit into that double play. “I guess they appreciated that I hustled,” he said, “and we got a run.”

It always comes back to that for Jeter; what his play means to the team. For the sellout crowd of 48,142 at Yankee Stadium, it was a treat to be able to cheer for the Captain once more as a new season at home got underway.

“It felt like my first home opener,” Jeter said.

Yogi would not miss DJ’s last home opener

Although he was not part of the Opening Day festivities, Yogi Berra was not going to let Derek Jeter’s final home opener go by without coming to Yankee Stadium to wish the captain good luck in his farewell season.

The Hall of Famer and three-time American League Most Valuable Player, who has thrown out many a ceremonial first pitch at the Stadium, is confined to a wheelchair these days, but the 87-year-old legend was in good spirits as he entered the hallway to the Yankees’ clubhouse just as Jeter was heading out to the field for batting practice.

“Hey, kid, you ready for one more big year?” Yogi asked Jeter.

“I hope so,” DJ said. “Thanks for coming. It means a lot to us. I’ve got to go stretch now. You want to come with me?”

Yogi’s pre-game stretching days are well behind him, but as Jeter pointed out his presence is greatly appreciated by Yankees players. Yogi lost his lifetime partner, Carmen, last month to a long illness, so it was good to see him out and about in the venue that continues to embrace him.

Berra was among several popular former Yankees on the scene for the first home game against the Orioles. Jeter and best pal Jorge Posada did the duty of catching the ceremonial first pitches tossed by the other half of the “Core Four,” Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte.

Even before the game, it was a home opener to remember.

‘Core Four’ will ring in Yankees’ home season

The “Core Four” will get the Yankees’ home schedule started Monday at the 112th home opener.

Yankee Stadium gates will open to fans for the 1:05 p.m. game against the Orioles beginning at 11 a.m. Festivities are slated to start at approximately 12:30 p.m. with the introduction of both teams on the baselines. The Yankees ask their fans to please budget ample time when planning their trip to the Stadium and urge their fans to use public transportation.

Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera will throw the Opening Day ceremonial first pitches to Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. Pettitte and Rivera, who each will also be honored with the “Pride of the Yankees Award” at the 35th Annual Homecoming Dinner at the New York Hilton Midtown following the game, will become the 13th and 14th former Yankees player to receive the Opening Day honor. Posada threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Yankees’ 2012 home opener.

Jeter, of course, will continue to work when the game begins as he continues his 20th and final season as a player. The Captain batted .250 with one RBI on the six-game trip through Houston and Toronto.

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Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada
(bleedingyankeeblueblogspot)

Kelli O’Hara, a Tony Award nominee and co-star of the Broadway musical The Bridges of Madison County, will sing the national anthem. In addition, a giant American flag will be unfurled by 75 West Point Cadets.

During the seventh-inning stretch, James Moye of the Broadway hit Bullets Over Broadway will perform “God Bless America.”

Following Opening Day, the Yankees will continue their nine-game homestand with two more games against the Orioles, a four-game against the Red Sox (April 10-13) and a two-game, inter-league series against the Cubs (April 15-16). The homestand will feature special pregame ceremonies and giveaways, as well as unique events:

Thursday, April 10 – Yankees vs. Red Sox, 7:05 p.m.

Mark Rivera, longtime Billy Joel band mate and music director for Ringo Starr, will sing the national anthem.

Friday, April 11 – Yankees vs. Red Sox, 7:05 p.m.

Magnetic Schedule Night, presented by AT&T, to all guests in attendance.

Saturday, April 12 & Sunday, April 13 – Yankees vs. Red Sox (1:05 p.m. and 8:05 p.m., respectively)

Calendar Day/Night, presented by Subway, to all guests in attendance.

Monday, April 14 – Tuesday, April 15
The Yankees and Major League Baseball will co-host the third annual MLB Diversity Business Summit, an event that provides attendees with unique access to executives from MLB, all 30 MLB clubs, as well as those from MLB media entities.

Tuesday, April 15 – Yankees vs. Cubs, 7:05 p.m.

As part of the Jackie Robinson Day pregame ceremonies, Nelson Mandela will be honored with a plaque in Monument Park.

Wednesday, April 16 – Yankees vs. Cubs, 7:05 p.m.

Yankees Peeps Collectible Night (Yankee Stadium Exclusive), presented by Peeps Brands, to first 10,000 Guests 14 and younger.

For information on parking and public transportation options to the Stadium, please visit yankees.com and click on the Yankee Stadium tab at the top of the page.

Politics does not belong in 9/11

For Bobby Valentine to politicize Sept.11, 2001 is amazingly in awful taste. The greatest single tragedy in the history of New York City should not be something that somehow got thrown into the Yankees-Mets rivalry.

Valentine’s comments on WFAN Radio Wednesday, the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, had absolutely no basis in fact. His suggestion that the Yankees were derelict in devoting time and funds to the recovery efforts in the aftermath of the destruction of the Twin Towers was astoundingly off-base.

I covered that story on a daily basis during that time when I was the national baseball columnist for the Hartford Courant and was well aware of what representatives of both clubs did to show their support of the recovery efforts. There is no question that Valentine, then the manager of the Mets, flung himself into those efforts.

The parking lot at Shea Stadium was set up as a supply station immediately after the attacks because the Mets were out of town. Valentine and many Mets players, including current Yankees broadcaster Al Leiter, spent hours of their own time loading and unloading supplies from and on to trucks. And it was Mets shortstop Rey Ordonez who came up with the idea of wearing hats bearing logos of the New York Police Department, Fire Department and Emergency Services.

I was also at Shea the night baseball was first played after the attacks and watched one of the most moving ceremonies before the Mets and the Braves took the field after embracing each other in the center of the diamond. Mike Piazza’s game-winning home run off Atlanta reliever Steve Karsay became one of the game’s most significant moments.

That said, the Yankees certainly did their part as well. I remember Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens, Chuck Knoblauch, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, Jorge Posada and other players visiting firehouses and hospitals all over the city. The Yankees also had an emotional ceremony prior to the first game at Yankee Stadium after the attacks.

Somehow Valentine missed all that. Here is what he said on the radio Wednesday:

“Let it be said that during the time from 9/11 to 9/21, the Yankees were AWOL. You couldn’t find a Yankee on the streets of New York City. You couldn’t find a Yankee down at Ground Zero, talking to the guys who were working 24/7. Many of them didn’t live here, and so it wasn’t their fault. And many of them did not partake in all that, so there was some of that jealousy going around. Like, ‘Why are we so tired? Why are we wasted? Why have we been to the funerals and the firehouses, and the Yankees are getting all the credit for bringing baseball back?’ And I said, ‘This isn’t about credit, guys. This is about doing the right thing.’ ”

How hypocritical. As the Yankees proceeded past the end of the regular season into postseason play all the way to the World Series, they brought attention to New York’s recovery while the Mets’ season was over. We all remember the lump we had in our throats when President Bush threw that strike of a ceremonial first pitch at the Stadium. But it was not about the Yankees any more than it was about the Mets. It was about people of all stripes working together to bind the city’s and the nation’s wounds.

“Bobby Valentine should know better than to point fingers on a day like today,” Yankees president Randy Levine said. “[Sept. 11] is a day of reflection and prayer. The Yankees, as has been well documented, visited Ground Zero, the Armory, the Javits Center, St. Vincent’s Hospital and many other places during that time. We continue to honor the 9/11 victims and responders. On this day, he would have been better to have kept his thoughts to himself rather than seeking credit, which is very sad to me.”

Yankees add pitcher, drop Francisco

The cleaver finally came down on Ben Francisco, the least productive of Yankees hitters this season. Francisco, who was used at designated hitter and in the outfield, was designated for assignment Sunday as the Yankees needed to create roster space for pitcher David Huff, whom they claimed off waivers from the Indians. Francisco batted .114 with one home run and one RBI in 44 at-bats and never seemed to get untracked.

Huff gives the Yankees another lefthander to work out of the bullpen with Boone Logan and as a long reliever, which may be important these days with starters Hiroki Kuroda (bruised right calf) and David Phelps (bruised right forearm) on the mend. Huff has an unsightly 15.00 ERA in three appearances this season. Yankees fans may recall that Huff was beaned by a line drive to the box by Alex Rodriguez in a 2010 game at Yankee Stadium.

He told reporters before Sunday’s game at St. Petersburg, Fla., “The last time I talked to you guys was the day I almost had my head taken off. I’m just super excited to be here, and I’ve got to embrace it.”

The Yankees’ 4-3, 11-inning victory Saturday night in which they trailed, 3-1, with two outs in the ninth inning was the first time they won a game in which they had two outs and the potential tying run not yet at bat since a 9-8 walk-off victory June 5, 2008 over the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, won on a pinch-hit home run by Jason Giambi. It was also the Yankees’ second victory this season when trailing after eight innings. They had just one such triumph last year (1-58) in the next-to-last game of the season Oct. 2 against the Red Sox at the Stadium.

The return of Brennan Boesch from Triple A Scranton gives the Yankees their best pinch hitter back. They are hitting only .167 with two home runs and five RBI in 24 at-bats in the pinch. Boesch as a pinch hitter is 3-for-9 (.333) with one of the homers and four of the RBI. His most recent pinch hit was an RBI double as part of Saturday’s ninth-inning rally.

Of the Yankees’ 60 home runs, 20 have tied the game or given them a lead with six of those coming in the seventh inning or later. Lyle Overbay’s 11th-inning, go-ahead homer was the first extra-inning jack by a Yankees hitter to give them the lead in a road game since April 11, 2012 by Nick Swisher at Baltimore. Overbay became the second Yankee to do so at Tropicana Field, joining Jorge Posada Sept. 14, 2010, a 10th-inning solo shot off Dan Wheeler in an 8-7 victory.

Mo sets club durability record

Mariano Rivera’s first appearance of the 2013 season Thursday night set a club record for years with the Yankees. This marks Mo’s 19th season in pinstripes, which breaks the tie he had shared with Yogi Berra (1946-63), Mickey Mantle (1951-68) and Derek Jeter (1995-2012). Once Jeet comes off the disabled list, of course, he will go back into a tie with Rivera.

Next in line with 17 seasons with the Yankees are Lou Gehrig (1923-39), Bill Dickey (1928-43, ’46), Frankie Crosetti (1932-48) and Jorge Posada (1995-2011). With 16 seasons apiece are Whitey Ford (1950, ’53-67) and Bernie Williams (1991-2006).

Rivera’s save to preserve the 4-2 victory over the Red Sox for Andy Pettitte also made it 18 years in a row (1996-2013) in which Mo has saved at least one game, tying the major-league record with John Franco.

In the major-league opener Sunday night between the Astros and the Rangers, Houston center fielder Justin Maxwell hit two triples to become one of only six players in history to triple twice in a season opener. One of them was the Yankees’ Tommy Henrich in 1950, his final season. “Old Reliable,” as Henrich was known, had more triples (8) than doubles (6) or home runs (6) that year. Henrich hit 73 triples over his 11-season career (he lost three full seasons to military service during World War II) and led the league twice, with 14 in 1948 and 13 in 1947.

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