Results tagged ‘ Rick Cerone ’

March madness

Baseball in March. What a concept. The powers that be in Major League Baseball cannot seem to figure out a way to condense the regular-season schedule so that World Series games do not dip into November, so the season now starts at a time that used to be reserved for the winding down of spring training.

The weather was less than ideal for the Yankees’ season opener Thursday at Yankee Stadium. The first-pitch temperature was 42 degrees, and the wind was whipping the flags on the roof. Mike Mussina, who someone joked could probably still make the Yankees’ rotation, handled the duties of tossing out the ceremonial first pitch.

Not surprisingly, Derek Jeter received the loudest ovation from the crowd in pre-game introductions. The captain batted second in manager Joe Girardi’s first lineup of the season with center fielder Brett Gardner in the leadoff spot. This will be the look at the top of the order when the opposing starting pitcher is right-handed, as is Detroit’s Justin Verlander. Jeter will go back to leadoff and Gardner to ninth against left-handed starters. Nick Swisher will likely hit No. 2 vs. lefties.

Girardi made it clear before the game that Jorge Posada’s days as a catcher are all but over. Now a full-time designated hitter who batted seventh Thursday, Posada won’t be counted on to work behind the plate. Girardi, himself a former catcher, was asked if Posada would be considered an “emergency” catcher in the event that newcomer Russ Martin and backup Gustavo Molina get hurt in the same game.

“Well, we might put Jorgie out there before someone like [Eduardo] Nunez,” Girardi said, referring to the backup infielder.

Well, that’s pretty plain. It sounds as if Posada can throw his old shin guards away.

Wednesday night, the Yankees held their annual Welcome Home Dinner at the New York Sheraton, a splendid affair that was attended by all the members of the team as well as club executives and employees.

In the VIP cocktail hour before the game, Hall of Famer Goose Gossage signed autographs with fellow former Yankees Tino Martinez, Lee Mazzilli, Oscar Gamble and Rick Cerone.

Deborah Tymon, the Yankees’ vice president of marketing and the dinner’s organizer, was given a special award from managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner. Debbie said that the late George Steinbrenner told her when she began running the dinner to make sure the food and service was first rate but, most importantly, that the players get out early so they can get plenty of rest before the home opener.

The special moment of the night was the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, who was also at the Stadium bright and early Thursday to tour the clubhouse and wish the Yankees luck.

Also on hand was another Hall of Famer, Reggie Jackson, looking very fit after having undergone spinal surgery last September. Reggie suffered from spinal stenosis from straining his back while tiling an area in his home and last fall found it difficult to walk more than a few yards on his own power.

“I’m still having regular physical therapy, but I’m making progress,” he said. “It feels good to be back at Yankee Stadium.”