Results tagged ‘ Sparky Lyle ’
Yankees manager Joe Girardi took a lot of heat in the media for the way he managed the ninth inning Thursday night against the White Sox, who pulled out a 4-3 victory on Dayan Viciedo’s three-run home run off David Robertson. I do not think all the criticism is warranted.
One area in which Girardi has showed real expertise as a manager is handling the bullpen, which is a far easier job we all know when Mariano Rivera is around. Mo has been out of the picture since early May and yet the Yankees have thrived largely because of their relief work. Rafael Soriano, an experienced closer, has done a good job spelling Rivera and the other relievers have responded well to Girardi’s mix-and-match system.
Boone Logan and Cody Eppley did great work getting out of an eighth-inning jam Thursday night to bail out Ivan Nova. Had Soriano been available, he surely would have worked the ninth with the Yanks ahead, 3-1, and been in line for a save. The righthander had pitched four of the previous five days and was not sharp in his last outing, so Girardi decided to let Eppley start the ninth against a right-handed batter, Alex Rios, who singled, and bring in lefthander Clay Rapada to face the left-handed batting A.J. Pierzynski.
Girardi looked pretty smart when Pierzynski hit a dribbling roller back to the mound that had “double play” written all over it. Then Rapada threw the ball wide left of Derek Jeter covering second base and into center field, and suddenly Girardi got a whole lot dumber. That forced him to bring in Robertson, who gave up the Viciedo bomb on a 1-0 fastball.
Why didn’t Girardi simply let Robertson start the ninth inning? That is what a lot of reporters wanted to know after the game. Truth be told, so did Robertson, at least judging from his body language in the clubhouse after the game. Girardi explained that Robertson missed considerable time this year because of injury and he is being cautious with him.
To me, that is a reasonable explanation. Besides, if Rapada doesn’t throw away two outs, there is probably no need to have a conversation about all this. Managerial moves are judged positively or negatively based on execution. Rapada’s lack of it is what cost the Yankees in that inning, not the bullpen manipulation by the manager.
The home run allowed to Viciedo was the first go-ahead jack allowed by a Yankees pitcher in the ninth inning working with a lead since the Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki hit a walk-off, two-run homer off Rivera Sept. 9, 2009 at Seattle with the Yanks leading 2-1. It was the first such homer with the Yanks leading by at least two runs since Marco Scutaro’s three-run walk-off homer off Rivera April 15, 2007 at Oakland with the Yankees up, 4-2. The previous time an opponent hit a go-ahead homer when down by at least two runs in the ninth or later at Yankee Stadium was the Red Sox’ Bob Montgomery July 28, 1972 off Sparky Lyle in the first game of a doubleheader with the Yankees ahead, 5-3.
Gene Monahan, the last link to the first season George Steinbrenner took control of the Yankees, will retire as the club’s long-time head athletic trainer at the end of the season. This is Geno’s 49th season with the Yankees as the longest tenured employee in the organization. He began as a batboy and clubhouse attendant in 1962 as a 17-year-old high school senior in the Yankees’ first spring training in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., his hometown.
Monahan, 66, talked with general manager Brian Cashman, manager Joe Girardi and other team officials about his decision in recent weeks and made the announcement official in an impromptu meeting with the players before Tuesday night’s game against the Royals at Yankee Stadium.
He had gathered the players together to alert them to upcoming skin and oral cancer screenings and then added, ‘Oh, and by the way, this will be my last year with the team.”
That was so typical of Monahan, an admitted introvert who remained in the background except when doing his job – to keep players healthy over the course of the grueling, 162-game schedule. He followed the advice he received years ago from the Yankees’ legendary equipment manager Pete Sheehy – “Keep your ears open and your mouth shut.”
“I got a huge wakeup a year ago, and it had a profound effect on me,” said Monahan, who battled throat and neck cancer that is now in remission. “I realized there are other things in my life that I need to do – to spend more time with my kids, with my extended family. I need to have a dog, a house, a garden, a backyard, and maybe a pickup.”
Geno, as he was affectionately known over the years by managers, coaches and players, not to mention the principal owner, has lived in New Jersey most of the past 40 years but plans to move to North Carolina where he bought a house. That is in the heart of NASCAR country, which is appropriate for Monahan, a passionate auto racing enthusiast.
Monahan spent 10 years working in the Yankees’ minor-league system and graduated from Indiana University as a certified trainer along the way before he was named the team’s head trainer in 1973, the year a group headed by Steinbrenner bought the team.
“The Boss and I came on the scene together,” Monahan said. “We taught each other a lot of stuff. I was always grateful to him for the opportunity. I can’t thank him anymore, but I let his family know that all the time.”
Monahan said he made a point of not getting too close to players because they were all important to him, but he made special mention of a few over the decades – Bobby Murcer, Sparky Lyle, Thurman Munson and Jim “Catfish” Hunter. Monahan served under 16 managers from Ralph Houk to Girardi and including Billy Martin five times and Bob Lemon, Gene Michael and Lou Piniella twice apiece.
The announcement of Monahan’s retirement at season’s end comes the day after the May issue of Yankees Magazine hit the newsstands that features my profile of Monahan. Geno and I spent a couple of days together at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., back in February. The eldest son of a family of eight that migrated south from Pennsylvania, Monahan got a taste of baseball as a teenager and never looked back.
The normally reticent trainer let his hair down a little bit in the interview and takes us through a fascinating career on the front lines of a storied franchise that made a stirring comeback to major prominence during the Steinbrenner era. Look for Alex Rodriguez on the cover and enjoy a trip down Geno’s memory lane.
Monahan is the longest-tenured head athletic trainer in the majors, having worked in that capacity for the past 39 years. In December, he was honored along with longtime assistant Steve Donohue as the Best Athletic Trainers in Major League Baseball in 2010 by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainer Society. Other recent commendations include the 2009 Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award from the National Athletic Trainers Association and induction into the New York State Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame in 2007. Monahan and Donohue were also honored with Major League Baseball’s Athletic Training Staff of the Year Award in 1990.
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement, “Gene Monahan embodies all the very best virtues that this organization strives to uphold. His devotion to his craft, passion for the game of baseball and tireless work ethic are only a few of the qualities that have made him a bedrock within this franchise for nearly 50 years. Gene has made a lifetime’s worth of sacrifices and contributions in order to best serve the Yankees, and our entire organization will always be grateful.”