Results tagged ‘ Troy Tulowitzki ’

Just another All-Star Game for Jeter


MINNEAPOLIS — It was typical of Derek Jeter to take a matter-of-fact approach to the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field and not place any special significance of his last go-round among the top players of the game.

The FOX network that is broadcasting Tuesday night’s event had wanted to have a microphone on Jeter to record his throughs during the game. You know his answer to that, an emphatic no. Yankees fans would have been proud of Jeter’s appearance at Monday’s media session at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. While most players were dressed casually, there was Jeter in a power blue suit complete with tie. Classy, as usual.

“I don’t go into things with expectations,” Jeter told reporters. “I’m looking forward to playing the game, and I pretty much stopped it right there. I’ve always enjoyed All-Star Games, and I’ve always appreciated it, so I don’t think I’ll treat this one any differently. Everybody wants me to be so emotional all of the time, but I’m coming here to play the game, and everything else that comes with it, I don’t know.”

Opposing catcher Jonathan Lucroy of the Brewers for one cannot wait to see what the reaction to Jeter will be.

“When he comes to the plate, you know he’s going to get a two-minute standing ovation,” Lucroy said. “I was telling my wife, ‘What am I going to do? It’s going to be awkward.’ I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my hands. I may drop everything and start cheering myself.”

Jeter has been pretty coy about this farewell tour stuff, not wanting teams to over-do it. He’s a different sort from Mariano Rivera, who basked in the glow of his farewell tour a year ago. Jeter just wants to go about his business. There is still baseball to play this year. He is still wearing a Yankees uniform. He is still ready to contribute on a daily basis.

I cannot believe that some writers criticized American League manager John Farrell of the Red Sox for batting Jeter leadoff in the game, claiming the Yankees captain was not deserving due to his .272 batting average. Give me a break. Have these people no sense of propriety. Jeter earned the spot not just for this season but for all 19 years that preceded it.

I would like to remind these critics that Jeter has had one of the best All-Star careers in the game’s history. He took a .440 average into Tuesday night’s game with five runs, one double, one home run and three RBI in 25 at-bats. He was the Most Valuable Player of the 2000 game at Turner Field in Atlanta when he went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBI. Later that year, he was the MVP of the Yankees’ World Series triumph over the Mets. His All-Star home run came in 2001 at Safeco Field in Seattle.

Farrell is not alone in his admiration for Jeter. Listen to what two other managers, AL coaches Ron Gardenhire of the Twins and Terry Francona of the Indians, had to say about Jeter to USA Today:

“Although he has kicked our butt a lot of times and knocked us out of the playoffs, I admire him so much,” Gardenhire said, referring to the Yankees beating the Twins, 12-2, in postseason games with Jeter at shortstop.

Added Francona, “That’s the single high point of being here, to watch him in person. I am thrilled. He represents what is good about this game.”

Chiming in was National League shortstop Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies: “He’s everything I always wanted to be. He’s why I play shortstop. He’s why I wear No. 2. And to be starting across the side opposite side of him in his final All-Star Game will definitely be cool.”

It was also typical of Jeter when asked his favorite All-Star moment not to pick a game in which he starred. He picked the 1999 game at Fenway Park in Boston when he was 0-for-1. What made it special to Jeter was that the All-Century Team was honored before the game.

“All those great players on the field, and I get a tap on my shoulder,” Jeter recalled. “It’s Hank Aaron. He said he was looking for me because he wanted to meet me. He wants to meet me? That’s one of the best moments on the baseball field that stands out for me.”

In the same vein, commissioner Bud Selig commented on Jeter during his annual question-and-answer session at the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s All-Star meeting at the Marriott City Center Hotel.

“If you said two decades ago that this is the guy you wanted to be the face of baseball and being what this generation will remember, you couldn’t have written a script better,” Selig said. “I said to a friend of mine last night talking about Henry Aaron, ‘How lucky can you be to have an American icon like Henry Aaron?’ How lucky can this sport be to have an icon for this generation like Derek Jeter? He has just been remarkable.”

Rain delay washes out CC

The poor weather that has plagued the Yankees-Rockies series at Coors Field drenched CC Sabathia in Thursday’s finale. A 1-hour, 59-minute rain delay forced Yankees manager Joe Girardi to burn Sabathia, who was on quite a roll before the game was interrupted.

Sabathia had retired 11 consecutive batters beginning with a sacrifice fly by Carlos Gonzalez that tied the score at 1 in the first inning through the fourth. A first-inning single by Troy Tulowitzki, who returned to the lineup after not starting the first two games of the series with a groin injury, was the only hit allowed by Sabathia, who walked one batter and struck out two.

The Yankees had a 2-1 lead when rain forced a halt in play. Vernon Wells, who had three hits in Wednesday night’s 3-2 victory, kept up hit hot hitting with a run-scoring single in the first inning off lefthander Jeff Francis. Chris Nelson, whose return to Denver had been relatively quiet in the first two games (1-for-6), doubled and scored the go-ahead run for the Yankees in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Chris Stewart.

The lengthy delay not only caused the departure of Sabathia but also that of Francis, who came into the game with a 7.27 ERA and might have suffered more at the hands of Yankees hitters. Righthander Adam Warren took to the mound for the Yankees in the bottom of the fifth.

Robinson Cano achieved a milestone in the third inning with his 1,500th career hit, an infield single. He did even more damage when play resumed with his ninth home run of the season, a solo shot to right in the fourth inning off righthander Adam Ottavino, who replaced Francis.

That would be the Yankees’ last hit before Lyle Overbay doubled with two out in the ninth to end a stretch of 12 straight batters retired against two Colorado relievers.

The Yankees’ bullpen did its job as well. Preston Claiborne had another impressive outing as he stranded two Rockies base runners in the sixth and got a double play after giving up a leadoff hit in the seventh. The Rockies reached the rookie for two more singles, however, but for the rescue came David Robertson to strike out dangerous pinch hitter Todd Helton. Mariano Rivera made it 13-for-13 in saves with a scoreless ninth.

The series was characterized by good pitching overall. A total of 11 runs were scored by the two teams combined in the three games. This was not your father’s Coors Field.

Derek and the new kids on the block

We tend to think of Derek Jeter as a perennial kid. His enthusiasm for the game is infectious. But there is no changing the clock. The Captain is 38 years old, which is twice the age of one of the two baseball phenoms who have entered the major leagues this year, outfielders Mike Trout of the Angels and Bryce Harper of the Nationals.

Both were on display Tuesday night in Kansas City at the All-Star Game where few teenagers have had the opportunity to compete. Trout was at Yankee Stadium Friday night with the Angels for the start of a three-game, weekend series and invoked Jeter several times in talking about his “homecoming.” The New Jersey native visited the old Yankee Stadium as a youngster, but this marked his first time playing on the Bronx patch.

“I was a shortstop and always batted leadoff,” said Trout, who still bats leadoff but now plays center field. “I patterned myself after Jeter, the way he goes about his business and always hustling. I’m the same way. I think that’s the only way to play the game.”

Jeter has now reached the point where he was the role model for players coming into the game. It started six years ago with the arrival of Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who proudly wears No. 2 in honor of Jeter.

Trout noted that he was befriended by Jeter at the All-Star Game. While taking batting practice, he turned to the side and saw Jeter and White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn looking at him and making a gesture with their hands over their hearts.

“It was their way of wondering if I was nervous,” Trout said. “I was, but they helped calm me down.”

Trout has something else in common with Jeter. He is a winner. The Angels got off to a 6-14 start that cost hitting coach Mickey Hatcher his job. Since Trout was called up from Triple A and installed in the Los Angeles lineup, the Angels have gone 42-24 entering play Friday night.

Robertson a candidate for top union honor

Yankees relief pitcher David Robertson is one of six finalists for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, which has been presented annually since 1997 by the Major League Players Association. The award, named after the first executive director of the union, goes to a player elected by his peers as the one who best combines on-field performance with community service.

Thousands of baseball fans participated in an Internet poll on between Sept. 9-12 to determine which six players, one from each division, inspire others to higher levels of achievement by on-field performances and contributions to their communities.

From the list of 30 players, Robertson was selected to represent the American League East. The other finalists are White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko (AL Central), Rangers designated hitter Michael Young (AL West), Mets third baseman David Wright (National League East), Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright (NL Central) and Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (NL West).

These six players will have their names placed on the 2011 Players Choice Awards ballot to determine the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award winner. The 2011 Players Choice Awards mark their 20th anniversary. The 1992 winners were Dennis Eckersley (AL) and Barry Bonds (NL). The Players Choice Awards also honor the outstanding player, rookie, pitcher and comeback player in each league, as well as the overall Player of the Year. 2011 Players Choice Award winners in all categories will designate charities to receive grants totaling $260,000 from the Major League Baseball Players Trust that has contributed more than $3 million to charities around the world.

No Yankees player has won the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award. Center fielder Curtis Granderson was honored in 2009, his last season with the Tigers. Another Detroit player, Brandon Inge, won last year. Ballots are being distributed to players Tuesday and Wednesday.

After watching tornadoes tear through Tuscaloosa, Ala., and spending an off-day touring the damage first-hand, Robertson was determined to help his hometown rebuild. In May, he and his wife established the David and Erin Robertson Foundation to raise relief funds and lend support to local charities helping those affected by the storms, with Robertson personally donating $100 for every batter he strikes out this season through his High Socks for Hope campaign.

Yanks win one for Geno

At the risk of sounding corny, the Yankees just could not lose Sunday. What a downer that would have been on one of the best Old Timers’ Day celebrations in the 65-year history of this classic event.

And yet for a while it looked like a loss was definitely possible. Rockies starting pitcher Juan Nicasio was perfect through 13 batters making a 3-0 lead seem insurmountable. Then two of the current Yankees who seemed to enjoy the Old Timers’ Day festivities more than most got the Yankees back into the game with back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning to tie the score.

“We couldn’t let Tino have the only homer of the day for us,” Nick Swisher said, referring to the two-run shot Martinez had off David Cone in the two-inning Old Timers’ exhibition.

Swisher followed a single by Robinson Cano drilling a 3-1 fastball to right field for his ninth home run and was still shaking hands in the dugout when Jorge Posada went yard for his eighth on a 1-2 heater. Suddenly, the game was tied.

“We didn’t want to let the Old Timers down,” Swish added.

The second of two home runs by Ty Wigginton returned the lead to Colorado in the sixth, but Alex Rodriguez singled in a run to extend his streak of RBI games to six in the bottom half to knot the score again.

As Derek Jeter, absent on his 37th birthday while rehabilitating his strained right calf in Tampa, Fla., likes to tell new Yankees, “Wait for the ghosts to come out around here.”

How else to explain that Troy Tulowitzki, at Jeter’s shortstop position and wearing DJ’s No. 2 for Colorado, misplayed a grounder by Russell Martin for an error (only his fourth in 75 games) that led directly to the go-ahead run in the seventh on a single by, yep, Jeter’s backup shortstop, Eduardo Nunez?

Swisher, Posada and Mariano Rivera, who struck out the side in the ninth for his 20th save, had been particularly active during the Old Timers’ Day celebration, which got especially emotional with the tribute to Gene Monahan, who is beloved by the players he has kept on the field for 49 years as the Yankees’ athletic trainer.

Geno, as he is known, is a shy man who is uncomfortable in the spotlight, but since announcing that this would be his last season the Yankees have endeavored to let their fans know just how important he has been over the years to the organization. And what better day to do so than the annual reunion of Yankees players from seasons past.

“It was a great day,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who put the perfect end to the afternoon by calling on the current squad’s old timer, Rivera.

“We were teasing Mo during the ceremony that he should come out there with us,” Girardi said.

The looks on the faces of the Yankees were precious as Monahan’s grown daughters and fiancée came on to the field to hug him during the ceremony.

“That was a big surprise,” Posada said. “He didn’t know they were coming. He lost it after that. Gene probably didn’t hear half the stuff that was presented to him.”

Monahan acknowledged that later, saying, “I’m just numb and quivering and can’t feel my feet, if you want to know the truth.”

Okay, Gene, so here’s the list of gifts you received:

• A letter of congratulations from commissioner Bud Selig.
• The Stadium frieze from your original Yankee Stadium locker, presented by assistant trainer Steve Donohue.
• Two seats from the original Stadium, presented by Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage.
• A Thomas Kinkhade painting of the original Stadium, presented by Yankees general partner/vice chairperson Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal.
• Toro TimeCutter lawn mower and a supply of Scotts products, presented by the Stadium grounds crew.
• Round-trip travel for two for a weekend in Las Vegas to see Garth Brooks and a personally autographed Stetson hat from Brooks, presented by Ron Guidry and Bernie Williams.
• Round-trip travel for two and VIP package to NASCAR Championship Weekend and an autographed NASCAR helmet from Kevin Harvick, presented by Martinez.
• Perillo Tours 15-day Alpine Wonders Tour for four, including airfare, presented by Posada and Rivera.
• 2012 Ford F-150 fully loaded Harley Davidson Edition pickup truck, presented by the 2011 Yankees team.

That was quite a haul.

Posada and Rivera also lent Geno a hand in his throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Old Timers’ Day game. Posada put on catcher’s gear for the first time this year and Rivera gave the trainer some tips on throwing the cutter. Monahan did not disappoint. He threw a strike.

Now how could the Yankees possibly lose on a day like that? So they didn’t.

Winning pitcher still best way to describe CC

The question came to CC Sabathia, and he could have shattered the walls with a certain answer, if he cared to. But it is not his way to be angry or critical, so Sabathia responded in kind, without malice or disdain.

The question offered by a reporter was, “What does it mean to be the first pitcher this year to win 10 games?”

CC didn’t hesitate and said, “I’d like to say it’s a big deal, but it isn’t, really.”

Perfect. Sabathia seems to know that you can’t have it both ways. Last year, he led the American League in victories with 21, but come time to vote for the Cy Young Award Sabathia ended up losing out to the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez and his 13-12 record. Baseball writers defended the decision because Fernandez had scant run support yet ranked very high in some other statistical measures for pitchers.

There is even a segment of the baseball press, those who digest the gourmet stats, that believes pitching victories have no meaning whatsoever. If so, then why all the fuss about Sabathia getting to 10-4 Saturday at Yankee Stadium in the Yankees’ 8-3 victory over the Rockies? If winning games does not matter anymore, why bother even asking the question?

Truth be told, CC, there are some of us in the press box who still value the art of pitching your team to victory. As Roy Halladay, who owns two Cy Young Award trophies put it so well last winter, that is still part of the job description. Sabathia would prefer to stay neutral in the debate, and I don’t blame him.

Praise is due the big guy, but it won’t be long that you’ll be hearing from the stat geeks than any pitcher can win 10 games with the run support Sabathia gets. That’s coming next, you watch.

Oh, yes, the Yankees have scored runs in bunches behind Sabathia, whose support of 7.67 runs per game is tops in the majors. The Yankees have scored in double figures in six of his 17 starts with CC getting a ‘W’ each time out. It should be noted, however, that the Yankees have been shut out twice with Sabathia on the mound.

A year ago, Hernandez had the worst run support I have ever seen a quality pitcher have in all my years of covering big-league ball, which is more than I care to (and can’t always) remember. That King Felix put the record together than he did was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, but I am not prepared to let a freak season become the game’s standard.

It is clear by now that the Yankees enjoy playing behind Sabathia, who earned his 50th victory in a Yankees uniform, in his 85th start. That matches what Chien-Ming Wang once did and is the best since Ron Guidry got to 50 victories with the Yankees in 1979 in his 82nd start in pinstripes. Playing behind Sabathia often puts the Yankees in such a comfort zone that they slug their way to victory.

“When you play behind CC, you’re not on the field very long,” manager Joe Girardi said.

The Yankees spent most of their time on the field at bat and scored eight more runs behind their ace. Alex Rodriguez, playing despite a sore right knee that has troubled him for a week, drove in three runs and scored another on a somewhat daring, hands-first slide into the plate in the third inning. A-Rod saw that the left fielder, Ryan Spilborghs, was fading toward center to make the catch on Nick Swisher’s fly ball and gave it a try. He went in on his hands, “because I wanted to give the catcher the least possible amount of body to tag,” Alex said.

Not a bad answer, actually.

Jorge Posada had three hits and an RBI in raising his batting average to .232. Rodriguez, Swisher, Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Francisco Cervelli had two hits apiece. Mark Teixeira knocked in two runs with his 22nd home run, taking over the team lead. The only 0-fer in the lineup, ironically, was by Robinson Cano, who made six outs in four at-bats and ended his consecutive game hitting streak in day games at 24 games. The Yankees remain lights out in the daytime at 21-4.

Sabathia, who lowered his ERA to 3.25, took a five-hit shutout into the eighth only to lose it that inning on a two-out, RBI single by Seth Smith, who was pinch hitting for Todd Helton. Sabathia was so dominating that Rockies manager Jim Tracy removed All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki after the seventh and pinch hit for Carlos Gonzalez and Helton in the eighth.

Talk about an early concession. But what else was there to do facing the daily double of the Yankees in broad daylight with CC Sabathia on the hill?

Burnett’s 4 K’s in 1 inning a 1st for Yankees pitchers

A.J. Burnett made Yankees history Friday night when he struck out four Colorado batters in the sixth inning. Believe it or not, he became the first Yankees pitcher ever to do that. Granted, it is a rarity, but it is hard to believe it had never happened before for a franchise that is more than one hundred years old.

For a pitcher to have the chance to strike out four batters in an inning means that one of them had to reach base on a third-strike wild pitch or passed ball. Since A.J. has had a special relationship with wild pitches over the years, he was an ideal candidate to be the first Yankees pitcher to pull off the oddity. Burnett’s 111 career wild pitches rank second among active pitchers behind only Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who has 124.

In fact, it marked the second time in his career that Burnett had four K’s in an inning. He also did for the Marlins against the Mets July 5, 2002, which was the first of two seasons in which he led his league in wild pitches with 14. The other was in 2009 with the Yankees when he had 17. A.J. was second in the American League in wild pitches with 16 and is leading this year with 12.

No. 12 came after Burnett got called third strikes past Chris Iannetta and Carlos Gonzalez. Chris Nelson reached first after Burnett’s third strike to him went all the way to the backstop. It gave Burnett a shot at a franchise first, which he accomplished by striking out Todd Helton swinging.

Unfortunately, that was the highlight of the night for Burnett, who gave up solo home runs to Jason Giambi and Troy Tulowitzki and two more runs on infield outs 6 1/3 innings in a 4-2 loss. It might have been worse except that the Rockies stranded 11 runners.

Alex Rodriguez drove in both Yankees runs with Curtis Granderson scoring each time, but the Yanks had only two hits after the second inning. Rockies righthander Ubaldo Jimenez, who was the National League’s starting pitcher in last year’s All-Star Game, struggled early this year but picked up his second straight victory. Jimenez, who had an 11-game winless stretch in April and May, scattered four hits and four walks over seven innings.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi correctly assessed before the game that Colorado could benefit more than any other NL club in inter-league competition because of the presence of Giambi as its designated hitter. In addition to his home run, Giambi also singled twice and walked.


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