Tagged: Ramiro Pena

A Day Of Firsts At Steinbrenner Field

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The 2010 Yankees got off to a sweet start, didn’t they?
* Impressive pitching by Gaudin, Mitre and Aceves.
* Nice catches in the wind by Hoffman and Gardner.
* Great seeing the Bombers again, period.
As with most early spring training games, there was sloppy play. And it’s hard to get a rhythm going when everybody’s being shuffled in and out like a game of musical chairs.
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But there were a few firsts that signaled a good omen for the season.
* A-Rod got the Yankees’ first hit of the spring.
* Pena smacked the Yankees’ first homer.
* Colin Curtis broke the 3-3 tie in the 9th with his three-run walkoff homer, enabling the Yanks to beat the Pirates 6-3. There was no pie, sadly.
Colin Curtis? Who’s he?
I would never have been able to pick him out of a police lineup, but he certainly got my attention today.
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He’s got a level lefty swing – almost Matsui-like – and he’s supposed to be a decent outfielder. Will he nudge Winn/Thames/Hoffman/Gardner aside any time soon? I highly doubt it; he’ll end up back in Scranton. But watch this video and tell me he’s not a terrific kid. He has a new fan in me, that’s for sure.

Is Brian Cashman “Hiking The Appalachian Trail?”

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Where is Brian Cashman? Has he disappeared? He traded Melky to the Braves for Vazquez, signed a few minor leaguers and then vanished in a cloud of smoke.
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While other teams are filling out their rosters, the Yankees remain without a bona fide left fielder (not counting Gardner), a dependable utility man (not counting Pena) and a strong bench (not counting…..anybody). I love that we’re stockpiling other teams’ castoffs for our farm system, but shouldn’t there be a little more activity as we head into spring training? Speaking of which, I’m going!
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I’ve been invited to appear on a baseball panel at the Blake Library in Stuart, Florida, on Saturday, March 13th. (If anyone is in the area, please come and hear me talk about the She-Fan book, this blog, the Yankees and God knows what else.) Then I’ll be heading to Tampa to see the Yanks take on the Astros at home on March 16th and the Phillies in Clearwater on March 17th. I’m looking forward to meeting Sue of Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts at the Phillies game, and hope to connect with others fans I’ve met via cyberspace.
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On a personal note, I’d like to wish my mother a Happy 93rd Birthday on Friday. As many people know, she came in second to Surf Dog Bill for the 2009 She-Fan Award for the Best Yankee Fan Video.
My mother is such a trooper. In the 1940s, she exhibited true she-fan boldness when she spotted Babe Ruth at a restaurant and walked up to him and got him to autograph her menu. She gave me the menu when I was in high school, and it’s one of my most treasured possessions.
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She was very upset when Melky was traded, but I think she’ll come to love Granderson. And she still has Jeter, her other favorite. Happy Birthday, Mom!!!!!!!
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Baby Bombers Rock!

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For the Yankees’ opener against the Royals, Girardi rested the vets and played the kids. I figured we’d get clobbered. Wrong. We did the clobbering. Well, the kids did.
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How? With the score tied 1-1 in the fifth, Ramiro Pena smacked his first major league homer. It was hilarious when, as per custom, he walked into the dugout and all the vets turned their backs and gave him the silent treatment.
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When the score was knotted at 2-2 in the sixth, it was Shelley who came through with an RBI single to put the Baby Bombers up 3-2. I guess he can hit major league pitching after all.
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Then we moved into the seventh inning, and the kids broke the game wide open. How?
Cervelli: doubled. 
Pena: singled in Cervelli.
Gardner: singled.
Melky: walked.
Cano: hit a grand salami.
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It was Robbie’s second career grand slam and it shut me up about his inability to hit with runners in scoring position. It was also his 25th homer and set a new Yankees record for players with 25 or more dingers in a season (there are five).
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The Yankees won the game 8-2, and it wasn’t all about offense, obviously. Chad Gaudin went six-plus and held the Royals to only four hits. I admit I wasn’t thrilled about him at first, but his last few outings have been more than decent and I think he could help the Yanks in the playoffs as a long reliever or emergency starter.
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Marte got Alex Gordon to foul out (wasn’t Gordon supposed to be The Next Great Thing?) and Aceves was perfect the rest of the way. And so the Baby Bombers picked right up where the guys who just won the division left off. Nice job, kids. You deserve a treat!
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A Tip Of The Cap

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I’ve made no secret of my appreciation for Roy Halladay’s gifts, not even during his recent slump. It was only natural that he’d have a letdown after all the hoopla at the All Star game surrounding a possible trade.
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Toronto’s 6-0 win over the Yankees tonight belonged to him. It’s no mean feat to one-hit the best offensive club in the majors, and he made the Yanks look feeble at the plate, especially A-Rod, who came up with bases loaded and took a called third strike.
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If Pena, subbing for Jeter at short, hadn’t doubled, Roy might have had a no-no. But that was it for the Yankees’ offense. So congratulations, Doc, for giving your team a lift. As for the Yanks….
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Joba gave me a headache. A migraine.
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I mean, what happened to him? He was pulled after three innings – the usual these days, given The Joba Rules – but he never seemed comfortable, never dominated like he used to. The defense behind him was nothing to jump up and down about, either.
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Hinske’s a really good hitter off the bench, but in right field he gives me the shakes.
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But this game was all about pitching. After Joba gave up three runs, two earned, it was time to call up the kids.
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Melancon started out OK, then couldn’t find the plate. Mike Dunn, in his major league debut, really couldn’t find the plate. Edwar found too much of the plate resulting in Hill’s two-RBI double. And Albaladejo avoided damage in spite of getting hit in the face by a ball a few days ago and ending up with raccoon eyes.
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To sum up, it was a night for Halladay to celebrate and for the Yankees to say, “So be it. We’ll get ’em tomorrow.” Yes, I’m actually OK with losing a game to a guy who deserved to win it. I must be mellowing. Yeah, right.
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The Walk-Off Wounded

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I’m still basking in the afterglow of the Yankees’ 4-3 defeat of the Blue Jays – yet another game they won in thrilling, walk-off fashion. What’s not to love about this team? Sure, they frustrate me sometimes. AJ was throwing wild pitches like a madman. Pena allowed himself to be picked off first base. Matsui was 0-for-5. But I can’t argue with the way the 2009 Bombers nearly always find a way to escape the jaws of defeat.
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But as they head to Seattle to begin their long road trip, all is not well in Yankeeville. Not medically speaking. The sudden casualties?
* Jeter was hit on the foot in the first inning. Diagnosis? Contusion.
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* Posada caught a foul tip off the knuckle of his middle finger in the eighth. Diagnosis? Contusion.
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* A-Rod was drilled on his elbow in the 11th. Diagnosis? Contusion.
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* Mo complained of shoulder soreness. Diagnosis? “Crankiness,” according to Girardi.
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I decided to fly out to Seattle myself and harass Yankees head trainer Gene Monahan for answers. 
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Here’s our conversation.
She-Fan: Thanks for taking the time to chat, Gene. I’m really worried about Jeter, Posada, A-Rod and Mo. Can you update me on their conditions?
Gene: They’re suffering from contusions.
She-Fan: What IS a contusion anyway?
Gene: An abrasion. A trauma. An ecchymosis.
She-Fan: Please spare me the medical jargon and speak English, Gene.
Gene: Fine. They’ve got shiners. Black-and-blue marks.
She-Fan: What about Mo? Girardi said his shoulder was cranky. Can a shoulder even BE cranky?
Gene: That’s just Joe being Joe. Mo’s shoulder is crabby, not cranky.
She-Fan: That’s so funny I forgot to laugh. Why are the Yankees secretive with the media when it comes to injuries?
Gene: You’re not the media, She-Fan. You’re just a blogger.
She-Fan: And you’re not a doctor, Gene Monahan. You’re just a trainer.
Gene: Good point. Forgive me.
She-Fan: I’ll consider it if you make sure my boys are healthy.
Gene: I’ll do my best.

So there you have it. Gene Monahan had a bit of an attitude, but he said he’ll do his best. I just hope it’s good enough.
 

CC Ran The Bases And The Earth Moved

He threw 98 mph. He didn’t walk a single batter. And he struck out eight en route to the Yankees 9-1 victory over the Mets. He also had an RBI single and scored during the Mets’ error-filled meltdown in the second. I could feel the ground shake as he chugged home. He’s as big as The Fridge, isn’t he?
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Anyway, it was a masterful performance, marred only by Sheffield’s blast, and I hope he doesn’t catch the bug that claimed Jeter, the birthday boy, who was scratched from the lineup with a bad cough.
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Other than CC, the hero of the night was Brett the Jet, who is insanely fast and could probably win a race with this guy.
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Five-for-five with a homer, a triple and a stolen base? How hug-worthy was that?
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Damon continued to excel (great dive/slide on that catch of Cora’s pop up in the first). 
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Cano played good ball in spite of his various ailments. And Pena had a couple of doubles, subbing for Jeter. But how about A-Rod. He’s looked like a different player in the last few games. Maybe it’s the day off he had during the week or the hip that’s finally healing or the fact that Kate Hudson is following him around the country and bringing him luck instead of jinxing him.
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All I know is he made several nice plays at third and passed Reggie on the all-time home run list.
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I wonder why the Mets’ defense goes all loosey-goosey when they face the Yanks. That second inning was like a bloopers reel. Maybe it’s because of their lame old theme song. Here’s Bob Costas singing it. Not good at all.
P.S. I’m sad about Nady. I thought he’d have a big year for us. And now he’s done.
Goodbye, X-Man. It was fun while you lasted.
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The Yankees, The New Stadium, The Great Fans

I missed the game yesterday, since I was flying cross-country, but I’m glad I did. I mean, really. The Nationals? Losing the series? Getting shutdown by a rookie pitcher who had never won a major league game before? I say to the Yankees:

STOP THE MADNESS!

For starters, give A-Rod a day off or three. The Yankees said, while he was rehabbing from the hip surgery: “We’ll probably play him sporadically, use him as DH every now and then, and rest him.” Hello? He hasn’t had a day off since the day he came back. As soon as Jeter’s ankle is OK, use Pena at third for awhile, would you please?
If Gardner has a concussion, even a mild one, don’t send him out there for any reason. And why no MRI?
Do something about Joba. Yes, he’s young. Yes, he’s still growing/learning/adjusting. But clearly, he’s struggling more often than not. Fix it!
Bring up Kei Igawa. No, that’s not a typo. You paid for him. He’s tearing it up in Scranton. Make him a long man in the pen and let him get major league hitters out.
That’s it for the moment. On to more pleasant things.
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There I am outside Stan’s Bar in the Bronx just before my signing on Wednesday. I’m wearing my Mariano Rivera jersey, of course.
The first person I saw was the lovely and talented MLBlogger Vanessa of “Flair for the Dramatic.” I turned the She-Fan Cam on her immediately. Note the subway noise – a little Bronx flavor.
Once inside the bar, the folks at Stan’s, who were fantastic, let Barnes & Noble set up their table and get the books all stacked and ready. It was quiet there at 3:30, but it wasn’t long before the joint was jumping.
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Here’s a pic of me with Vanessa, Serena (“Traveling Baseball Babes”) and Bernadette (“This Fan’s Life” and “Lady at the Bat”).
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Also stopping by and snagging a copy of the book were the daughter and sister of “Generation Third” Yankees blogger Chris.

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Then along came a she-fan named Samantha who wanted to buy the book AND be interviewed by the She-Fan Cam. I was happy to step outside and oblige. (Note: more subway noise.)
It was fun to meet the bloggers and commenters whose names I’ve been seeing for so long, including “Cheshirecat.”
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Not everyone wanted to buy the book. Here’s a guy who gave it a look, then said, “My wife hates baseball. She’d never read this.” LOL.
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At six o’clock, it was on to the new Stadium! I admit it was an emotional experience to pass the old place and see that the demolition has begun. Sob. But the new place beckoned.
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And I just couldn’t resist having Michael take a picture of me with “Jeter” in front of the team store.
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Now, it was time to go inside for the first time and watch the Yanks take on the Nationals. I have to say that the Great Hall took my breath away. It was that impressive with all the photos of Yankees legends – a cathedral indeed.
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I gave myself the tour and, although the stadium still has that “new car” smell with everything looking sparkling clean and polished, I thought it was beautiful. Plenty of time for the dents and dings that give a ballpark its character.
Michael and I scoped out the food choices, of which there are many, and decided to eat near our section, 323, up in the Terrace. We wandered over to a place called the Jim Beam Lounge and were told we needed a special ticket to get in. Huh?
“You have to be in section 323,” said the guy standing guard.
Obviously, we happened to land in the right section and got in to the restaurant. But still. Why limit people’s access?
There was a full bar and the Food Network concession. Michael ordered a truly delicious burger and fries – no greasy little patty on a crummy bun – and I had a really good grilled chicken sandwich with goat cheese and a spicy tomato sauce. I stopped at the bar and got a glass of red wine (yes, I know I’m a wuss, but I hate beer) and we put everything on a tray and started to walk to our seats…..until we were stopped by the guy at the door.
“You can’t take wine to your seats,” he said.
“Um, people can drink a million beers but I can’t bring this thimble full of wine?” I asked.
“Right.”
I don’t know if it was a city ordinance or just a Yankees thing, but it was annoying.
Our seats, on the other hand, were a joy – behind home plate to the third base side. And they were the cushy, padded ones just like they have down on the field level for the swells! I felt like I was sitting in a Barcalounger, and I made a discovery: It’s really nice to sit in comfortable seats!
Mostly, what struck me was that the field was gorgeous. Seriously. After all the negative things I’ve heard, I couldn’t get over what a great job the Yankees did in replicating and even improving on the old place. That huge, hi-def screen alone is worth the trip.
We had a surprise visit from Alex of the MLBlog “River Avenue” who showed up with the balls he’d managed to snag before the game.
The game itself was pretty discouraging, since the Yankees didn’t do anything to generate much crowd excitement. My friend Patty from the New York Times joined us, and I asked her if she thought the Yanks would make a comeback, among other things.
Patty was wrong and, although Gardner was at third with one out in the ninth and A-Rod was on first, Cano grounded into a double play to end the game. If A-Rod had only stolen second…
Oh, well. It was a great trip and I enjoyed being in the Bronx again. I’m hoping to come back later this summer and go to more games at the new Stadium. (I think I’ll stop calling it that; it’s the Stadium, period.) Yes, it’s pricey and there are adjustments to be made. But what an amazing place to watch baseball. I highly recommend it.

My Favorite Kind Of Game: A Blowout

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So weird. The Yankees couldn’t do a thing against Nieve, who probably doesn’t even bother to dream about the Cy Young Award, and yet they absolutely destroyed Santana, whose Cy Young dreams have long become a reality.
Johan didn’t make it out of the fourth during the Yanks’ 15-0 thrashing of the Mets, and gave up a career high nine earned runs.
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The Mets’ relievers didn’t have much either, as Jeter, Damon, Matsui, Melky and Cervelli (love this guy) just kept piling on.
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But the star of the day was AJ.
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Except for a lapse in the third (two walks, bases loaded with nobody out – yikes), he threw seven sparkling innings of shutout ball and looked more like the guy who tortured us as a Blue Jay.
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Aside from his throwing error, the Yanks were crisp on defense too. I loved watching Sheffield try to take Jeter out on that double play. (Nice try, Gary, except that you’re old in baseball years.)
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In the seventh, Pena was in as Jeter’s replacement at short and flashed leather.
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Robertson and Hughes did a great job in relief and spared me from having to watch Veras, Coke or Aceves create a hair-raising experience.
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And then there was the Bruney/K-Rod pre-game fracas. Bruney was stupid to open his mouth in the first place about K-Rod’s celebrations on the mound. K-Rod was stupid to confront Bruney during batting practice today and allow the exchange to be caught on camera. Just shut up and pitch, people!
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I’m in New York, so I got to watch the game with my family – all Yankee fans. It was a nice capper to the weekend in Westchester before I head into the city for the rest of my trip.
My 92-year-old mother thinks I act like a crazy person when I watch baseball, but she let me turn the She-Fan Cam on her during our visit. Here she is. Does she look 92? I don’t think so, either.

Check That….Three Walkoffs Are Better Than Two

I know the Yankees aren’t going to stage dramatic comebacks every day, but this run of victories sure is fun while it lasts. Today’s 3-2 win over the Twins in 10 innings starred yet another hero: Johnny Damon. But honorable mention has to go to:

* Pena, subbing for Cano at second, for saving a run in the first.
* A-Rod for getting the Yanks on the board with a homer in the seventh.
* AJ for pitching six-plus innings of really good ball.
* Bombko for not giving up any bombs with bases loaded and one out in the eighth.
* Tex for making that incredible stab in the eighth on Span’s grounder, then throwing out Cuddyer from his knees.
* Mo for coming back after two innings last night to hold the Twins scoreless in the ninth.
* Aceves for blanking the Twins in the tenth.
And now….onto the hero himself. Wow. Yay. Hallelujah.

No Sweat

I really liked the Yankees 8-2 win over the Blue Jays tonight. There was none of this whatsoever.
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I hardly ever just sit back and relax during a game. But this win was in the bag – or felt like it. The Jays’ supposed phenom, Scott Richmond, who was pitching for the Edmonton Cracker Cats until he was signed by Toronto, didn’t make it out of the second inning. Why?
Melky: double
Gardner: home run
Pena: triple
Damon: triple
Tex: double
A-Rod: walk
Cano: single
Here’s what was great about the offensive outburst….
* It came early.
* It came in bunches.
* It came against the type of pitcher we usually have trouble with.
* It came against a first-place team.
* It came from guys who were in the minors last year as well as marquee guys, including Damon, who continues to wield a hot bat – and a pair of happy feet.
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It also gave Pettitte some breathing room. What was up with his three walks in the first?
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No clue, but when I look at this photo I wonder why his arm doesn’t fall off. Ouwww.
Aceves did a good job when Andy was done after six, but Albaladejo?
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He took the mound in the bottom of the ninth, then walked Bautista and Scutero and gave up a single to McDonald, loading the bases for Rios. A conference ensued, and Girardi got Mo up, which was weird. Ultimately, Rios grounded into a double play and the game was in the books. But seriously, like Veras and Edwar, Alba cannot be trusted, besides which he suffers from thunder thighs.
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OK, they’re not that bad, but he should put himself on the Brian Bruney Diet.
After reading William C. Rhoden’s New York Times article about how old and decrepit the Yankees are, it was heartening to see so much production tonight from Gardner, Melky, Cano, Cervelli and Pena – none of whom is a day over 25. I’m not saying they’re the greatest players ever to put on the cleats, but they prove that the team isn’t quite ready for this.
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