Results tagged ‘ Jorge Posada ’

Ichiro outwits Wieters for Yanks’ first run

It is a good thing for the Yankees that Orioles catcher Matt Wieters never had Stump Merrill for a catching instructor. Merrill, who served in the Yankees’ organization for decades as a minor-league manager as well as the big club’s skipper in 1991 and ’92, was a former catcher who worked with backstops in spring training and the minors for many years. It was Stump who helped the transition from second base to catcher for a young guy named Jorge Posada.

I spent a lot of time talking baseball with Stump. One of his pet peeves was when catchers let base runners outfox them on tag plays at the plate. Stump used to say that it made no sense to chase a runner if the catcher missed the tag at first swipe and the runner missed the plate.

“Just sit on the plate and let the runner come to you,” Merrill said of his strategy. “If he wants to score, he has to try and get to the plate at some time.”

One of Merrill’s pupils over the years in the Yankees’ system was Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who is as smart about the game as there is in baseball. Buck’s catcher could have used that lesson Monday night in the first inning of Game 2 of the American League Division Series.

Fortunately for the Yankees, Wieters played into Ichiro Suzuki’s hands by lunging to tag the wiry outfielder, who used an assortment of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly moves to elude his pursuer and score the first run.

Suzuki appeared to be a dead duck as he tried to come home from first base on a double into the right field corner by Robinson Cano. Ichiro weaved his way around Wieters, then waited for the catcher to make a move toward him and reacted by swerving away from the catcher to slap a tag on the plate before he was tagged.

Anyone who has ever seen Suzuki’s stretching exercises realizes that he is half elastic. Trying to tag him in that spot was a waste of time. Had Wieters merely squatted on the plate, the game would have still been scoreless.

Yanks tie club mark with 4 homers in one inning

The Yankees got a break with the third of their four home runs in the second inning Monday night. There was no question about the legitimacy of the drives by Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson, but the blow by Russell Martin. . .well.

Cano started the onslaught with his 31st homer, a shot into the net protecting Monument Park in center field. After a one-out single by Nick Swisher, Granderson launched a 1-2 pitch from Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz into the second deck in right field inside the foul pole for his 41st homer. Martin next hit an opposite-field fly ball that landed above the auxiliary scoreboard.

It required a review by the umpires before Martin’s 21st home run became official. I found it hard to believe that four sets of eyes didn’t seen what my set did, which was that the ball struck the outstretched arm of a fan leaning over the top of the scoreboard. Fortunately for the Yankees, the umps saw it the way they did.

It all proved inconsequential because the Yankees kept scoring – five more times for a total of nine runs, the most they have had in one inning since July 30 last year when they scored 12 in the first against the Orioles. A sacrifice fly by Alex Rodriguez, a two-run double by Cano and a two-run homer by Mark Teixeira (No. 24) in his first game back in three weeks from a left calf strain had them rolling to a 9-0 lead.

The four home runs tied the franchise record, accomplished twice before June 30, 1977 at Toronto and June 21, 2005 at Yankee Stadium against the Rays. Cliff Johnson hit three home runs in the ’77 game, an 11-5 Yankees victory, two in the eighth inning, along with Thurman Munson and Lou Piniella. In the ’05 game, a 20-11 Yankees victory, Gary Sheffield hit one of his two home runs in the eighth inning, along with A-Rod, Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada.

Well, now, isn’t that grand?

The Yankees have had a grand old time this year hitting grand slams. They lead the major leagues in home runs with the bases loaded with nine, which is one shy of the franchise record established in 1987 and equaled in 2010 and ’11. The Yanks have led the majors in grand slams in each of the previous two seasons and have combined for a big-league high of 29 over the past three seasons. That is more than double the next best teams; the Red Sox, Marlins, Cardinals and Rays have 13 apiece.

Nick Swisher’s salami Monday night was his second this year as he joined Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson with multiple slams. The Elias Sports Bureau reports that this is the second time in franchise history that three different players have had multiple grand slams. The other year was 2010 when Alex Rodriguez had three and Cano and Jorge Posada two each.

Rodriguez is on the disabled list because of a fractured bone in his left hand. His teammates have picked up the slack in his absence. Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix and Casey McGehee have combined as third basemen in A-Rod’s time away to bat .375 with seven home runs in 64 at-bats.

The Yankees have seven players on the roster with at least 200 career home runs (Rodriguez, Swisher, Chavez, Andruw Jones, Mark Teixeira, Raul Ibanez and Derek Jeter). According to Elias, the only other team in major league history with as many 200-homer men on the same roster was the Yankees’ 2008 team with Posada, Jeter, Rodriguez, Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Ivan Rodriguez and Richie Sexson. The Yankees can break the mark this year if Granderson gets three more home runs. The center fielder has 30 this season and 197 for his career.

Stats LLC pointed out that the two pickoffs by David Phelps in Monday night’s victory over Texas were a first for a Yankees righthander in one game since Scott Kamieniecki June 18, 1991 at Toronto.

Injured starters should stay on turn

A couple of scary incidents during the Subway Series involving Yankees starting pitchers have proved not long-lasting. Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte were both hit by batted balls over the weekend against the Mets, but it appears that they will be able to stay on turn in the rotation.

Kuroda was struck in the left ankle Friday night by a line drive by David Murphy with the ball ricocheting to third baseman Alex Rodriguez for the last out of the seventh inning. That was also the final out for Kuroda, who limped off the mound and was seen leaving the clubhouse several hours later on crutches. He was able to go through his normal between-starts throwing regimen, however, and is expected to start Wednesday night at Atlanta.

Pettitte pulled a pitching no-no Sunday by reaching with his bare hand for a chopper toward the mound by Scott Hairston in the sixth inning. It was a stylish maneuver by Pettitte because the ball was actually behind him. It was also painful. Pettitte sustained a bruise that left him with a purple mark below the left index finger but no broken bones. He told reporters at Turner Field that he sees no reason why he shouldn’t make his next assignment Saturday at Washington, D.C.

Russell Martin’s game winning home run Sunday marked the Yankees’ second walk-off victory this season and their first game-ending homer since Sept. 8, 2010, against the Orioles, by Nick Swisher. The span of 641 days was the longest amount of time between walk-off homers for the Yankees since a span of 650 games between Sept. 18, 1991 (Roberto Kelly against the Brewers) and June 29, 1993 (Wade Boggs against the Tigers).

It was Martin’s fourth home run in the past six games, as many as he had over his first 44 games. Russell was the first Yankees catcher with a walk-off home run since Jorge Posada May 16, 2006, against the Rangers. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Martin became the second Yankees catcher since 1950 to homer twice in a game with one a walk-off. The other was Yogi Berra Sept. 16, 1955 against the Red Sox.

Brett reflective in congratulating Jeter

Derek Jeter continues to pass Hall of Famers as he climbs up the all-time hits list. The Captain’s leadoff single Sunday at Oakland was career hit No. 3,155 as he jumped past George Brett to take over 14th place.

Brett issued a statement, which was not only congratulatory and appreciate of Jeter’s standing but also somewhat somberly reflective of his own.

“I’m always kind of bummed out when guys pass you because you had your own place in the records book for a while, and I had that one there for a while,” he said. “But a guy like Derek comes around and passes you, really, I think it all depends on the type of person that did it. I have the upmost respect for him.

“I’ve only met him one time, very briefly, but for a guy to play as long as he has in New York, and I’ve never heard one bad thing said about the guy, he’s definitely a team player, he’s a clutch player. He has been the backbone of this organization for a long, long time and when a guy like that passes you, I’d like to shake his hand and look him in the eye and say congratulations.”

That is a major compliment from Brett, whose heyday with the Royals was back in the 1970s and ‘80s when they were as fierce a rival of the Yankees as the Red Sox in any era. They faced each other in four of five American League Championship Series from 1976-80 with the Yanks taking the pennant three times.

I have come to know George very well from our time together at the annual induction weekend at Cooperstown, and I know his feelings about Jeter and his close pal, Jorge Posada, are genuine. At the same time, there was a sense from Brett that falling down that list is tough to take. I think we can all understand that.

I remember when I covered mostly National League ball in the 1980s, and it seemed that Pete Rose was breaking one of Stan Musial’s records every year. Musial was always gracious in his comments about Rose, yet there was a tinge of remorse when Rose replaced “The Man” as the player with the most hits in NL history.

Stan took his time giving his thoughts that night and said to writers, “I know records are meant to be broken, guys, but I must admit that I really liked this one.”

Elston Howard, historic Yankee

Jorge Posada’s appearance at Yankee Stadium Friday to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the home opener led to some discussion in the press box about how the former All-Star catcher might do five years from now when he will be eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot. I suspect he will get some decent support but ultimately will fall short, although I would be very happy to be wrong about that.

It made me think about Elston Howard, another perennial All-Star catcher for the Yankees as well as the 1963 American League Most Valuable Player. Howard never did get elected, but to his credit he remained on the ballot for the full 15 years of eligibility. And in thinking about Howard, it so happens that Saturday marked the 57th anniversary of his first major-league game, which was a significant day in Yankees history because he was the first African-American player in the club’s history.

Howard broke in with the Yanks April 14, 1955 at Boston’s Fenway Park. It was the team’s second game of that season. They had clobbered the Washington Senators, 19-1, the day before in the home opener, but Howard did not get into the game. He didn’t start the game against the Red Sox, either.

Remember, Yogi Berra was the Yankees’ regular catcher in those days and that year would win his third AL MVP Award. Howard was primarily an outfielder at that time (he would later play some at first base) and caught in only nine games in 1955 – four as a starter.

Yankees manager Casey Stengel inserted Howard into the game as a defensive replacement for left fielder Irv Noren in the sixth inning. Howard batted against Boston righthander Willard Nixon, the winning pitcher in the Red Sox’ 8-4 victory, got his first hit and run batted in when he singled in Mickey Mantle from second base in the eighth inning.

Howard played in the first of his 10 World Series that year and unfortunately made the final out of Game 7 on a grounder to Brooklyn Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese. Ellie and Pee Wee share a dubious distinction as the players who were on the losing side most often in World Series play – six times. Howard did get to play on four World Series champions whereas Reese only had that 1955 ring.

Berra and Howard shared catching duties in 1958, ’59 and ’60 before Ellie took over as the regular in 1961 and hit .348 while Yogi went into a left field platoon with Hector Lopez. In 1963, Howard had career highs in home runs (28) and RBI (85) and batted .287 to earn MVP honors.

As it turned out, Howard’s last game was also at Fenway Park – Game 7 of the 1967 World Series. The Yankees had traded him to Boston Aug. 3 that year, and he played a big part in the Red Sox’ “Impossible Dream” season as they won their first pennant in 21 years but lost to the Cardinals in seven games in the World Series.

Ellie eventually returned to the Yankees as a long-time coach before his death in 1980 at the age of 51. His uniform No. 32 was retired in 1984 on the same day the Yankees also retired No. 9 for his old teammate, Roger Maris.

Posada family handles first-pitch chores

It was a family affair as Jorge Posada threw out the ceremonial first pitch Friday at the Yankees’ home opener. Posada, who was honored Thursday night with the Pride of the Yankees Award at the team’s 33rd annual Welcome Home Dinner Thursday night at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, trotted to the mound at Yankee Stadium with his son, Jorge Luis, while his father, Jorge Sr., positioned himself at his son’s former spot behind the plate.

With the Yankees’ starting lineup standing behind him encircling the mound and the remainder of the team standing in front of the dugout, Posada threw a ball probably too high for a strike but definitely over the plate to his father, who used a regular fielder’s glove instead of a catcher’s mitt to haul it in. The appreciative crowd on a sun-splashed afternoon cheered mightily with a chant of “Come back, Jorge” coming from the right field upper deck.

Posada turned to his teammates after his toss, and the first player he hugged was his successor at catcher, Russell Martin. Mariano Rivera was the first former teammate to greet Posada as he came off the field and then manager Joe Girardi, who had preceded him as the Yankees’ regular catcher.

“It seems a bit strange because I don’t consider him an old timer,” Girardi said.

Yanks first wore pinstripes one century ago

April 11 is an anniversary of sorts for the Yankees. On this date exactly 100 years ago, they wore pin-striped uniforms for the first time. An urban legend grew up that the Yankees went to pin-striped home uniforms in the 1920s to camouflage Babe Ruth’s girth, but that was just a myth.

Ruth was an athletic figure when he came to the Yankees from the Red Sox in 1920 and did not put on excessive weight until later in the decade by which time the pinstripes had become a major part of the team’s identity.

The Yankees were in their last year at old Hilltop Park on Manhattan’s upper west side and the last season in which they went by the nickname Highlanders when they displayed pinstripes for the first time April 11, 1912, four days before RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic.

Contrary to another myth, the Yankees were not the first ballclub to wear pin-striped uniforms. The Cubs had worn them as far back as 1907. The Yankees returned to plain white home unis in 1913, their first year at the Polo Grounds, but brought back the pinstripes for good in 1915 and have worn them ever since, adding the inter-locking “NY” logo in the 1920s. They were also the first baseball team to wear numbers on the backs of uniforms on a regular basis starting in 1929.

With the Yankees in Baltimore to complete a three-game series at Camden Yards, they could not celebrate by wearing pinstripes because they were wearing road grays, but they will show off the famous home uniforms Friday at Yankee Stadium.

Gates will open at 11 a.m. for the 110th home opener that will start at 1:05 p.m. with the Yankees against the Angels, featuring their prized, off-season acquisition – three-time National League Most Valuable Player Albert Pujols.

Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada will throw out the ceremonial first pitch following a rendition of the National Anthem by Jeremy Jordan from the cast of the Broadway musical Newsies and a Navy F-18 Super Hornet flyover. Another Broadway performer, Paul Nolan in the title role from Jesus Christ Superstar, will sing “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch.

The Yankees have a 72-36-1 record in home openers and have won 13 of their past 14, 18 of 20 and 24 of 28. They won a record 11 straight home openers from 1998 through 2008 and are 6-0 all time in home openers played April 13.

Yankees Homecoming Dinner April 12

Yankees fans interested in getting a close-up view of the team that will compete for the American League East title in 2012 should consider attending the 33rd annual Yankees Homecoming Dinner April 12 at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Manhattan on the eve of the club’s home opener against the Angels.

Players, coaches, ownership, front-office personnel and former Yankees greats will attend, with all proceeds from the event benefiting the New York Yankees Foundation. Recently-retired catcher Jorge Posada and longtime head athletic trainer Gene Monahan will be honored at the dinner.

Posada, who retired in January after 17 seasons with the Yankees, will receive this year’s Pride of the Yankees Award. During his time in pinstripes, Posada batted .273 with 275 home runs and played on four World Series champions.

Monahan, who retired following the 2011 season, began his 50-season career with the Yankees as a bat boy and clubhouse attendant during spring training in his hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 1962. At the time of his retirement, Monahan was the longest-tenured employee in the organization and the longest-tenured head athletic trainer in Major League Baseball.

There are several different table packages available, as well as two different individual-ticket options for the event, which begins at 5 p.m. with a cocktail reception followed by dinner at 6.

Prices range from $900 to $50,000, with all proceeds going to the charitable initiatives of the New York Yankees Foundation, which includes national charities, supports various national and worldwide disasters and local initiatives.

“The Yankees Homecoming Dinner welcomes the team back to New York and is the celebration of a brand new baseball season,” Yankees senior vice president of marketing Debbie Tymon said. “With the entire team present you’ll welcome home Yankee heroes, but you’ll also get to know new members. It’s a great celebration of baseball and the primary fundraiser of the New York Yankees Foundation. It’s a great time that raises a lot of money for good charities.”

Table package options include:

• The $50,000 “Champions Package” includes a premier table for 10, early entry to the pre-dinner reception with the Yankees at 4:30 p.m., 10 tickets for the home opener, four tickets for the 2012 Old Timers’ Day game July 1, an invitation for four to be the Yankees’ personal guests in a party suite July 30 against the Orioles, a commemorative Posada collectible piece for each of the 10 guests and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a boy or girl between the ages of 7-14 that begins with an on-field visit prior to a game.

• The $35,000 “Grand Slam Package” includes a premier table for 10, early entry to the pre-dinner reception with the Yankees at 4:30 p.m., 10 tickets for the home opener, four tickets for the 2012 Old Timers’ Day game July 1, an invitation for four to be the Yankees’ personal guests in a party suite July 30 against the Orioles and a commemorative Posada collectible piece for each of the 10 guests.

• The $15,000 “Home Run Package” includes a prime table for 10, invitations for 10 to join the reception with the Yankees at 5 p.m., 10 tickets for the home opener, four tickets for the 2012 Old Timers’ Day game July 1, an invitation for two to be the Yankees’ personal guests in a party suite July 30 against the Orioles.

• The $8,500 “Slugger Package” includes a table for 10, invitations to a pre-dinner cocktail reception with Yankees legends and 10 tickets to the home opener.

Individual ticket options are:

• The $1,500 “MVP Ticket” includes one ticket to the dinner, an invitation to the reception with the Yankees at 5 p.m. and a ticket to the home opener.

• The $900 “Designated Hitter Ticket” includes one ticket to the dinner, an invitation to a pre-dinner reception with Yankees legends and a ticket to the home opener.

For more information, contact the Homecoming Dinner office at 212-843-1758 or log on to http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/nyy/fan_forum/coming_home.jsp

Phelps wins Dawson Award

Prior to Wednesday’s conclusion of the Yankees’ Grapefruit League schedule with their victory over the Mets at Tampa’s Steinbrenner Field, the Yanks honored pitcher David Phelps with the 2012 James P. Dawson Award as the outstanding rookie in camp as voted on by writers covering the team.

Phelps, 25, had a 0-1 record with one save and a 2.08 ERA in seven spring appearances, including one start. The righthander pitched 17 1/3 innings and allowed six runs (four earned), 16 hits, including one home run, and four walks with 14 strikeouts.

In 2011, Phelps led all minor-league pitchers in the Yankees organization in ERA at 2.99 in his 7-7 season at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre where he made 20 starts and pitched 114 1/3 innings. Phelps was also the 2010 recipient of the Kevin Lawn Award as the organization’s minor-league pitcher of the year for compiling a combined 10-2 record with a 2.50 ERA in 26 outings, all but one as a starter, for Scranton and Double A Trenton.

The Missouri native attended Notre Dame and was the Yankees’ choice in the 14th round of the 2008 First Year Player Draft.

The award was established in honor of James P. Dawson (1896-1953), who began a 45-year career with The New York Times as a copy boy in 1908. Eight years later, he became boxing editor and covered boxing and baseball until his death during spring training in 1953. In conjunction with the award, Phelps received an Elysee watch from Manfredi Jewelers.

The first Dawson Award winner was Norm Siebern in 1956. Tony Kubek won the next year and went on to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award that season. Another future AL Rookie of the Year Award winner who had also won the Dawson Award was Tom Tresh in 1962. Other prominent Dawson Award winners over the years include Roy White (1966), Willie Randolph (1976), Don Mattingly (1983), Al Leiter (1988), Jorge Posada (1997), Alfonso Soriano (2001), Hideki Matsui (2003) and  Brett Gardner (2009).

 

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