Showing posts with label Derek Jeter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Derek Jeter. Show all posts

Monday, September 8, 2014

Jeter Says Goodbye

Still a Class Act
(Photos by Gary Quintal)

Derek Jeter gives his preliminary goodbye in the Bronx

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 8- The assumption is Derek Jeter will be on the field at Yankee Stadium for the last time as an active player in three weeks because the Yankees in all probability will miss the postseason for a second straight year. So on Sunday afternoon the Yankees gave him a fitting and preliminary goodbye tribute.

You can say that the Yankees gave him an early 

goodbye retirement party in order to keep fans in the stands and to profit on Jeter commemorative patches, shirts, and anything that sells with his name. The good thing is the Yankees and their fans still have Derek Jeter for another three weeks.

And for the next 21 games, assuming Jeter plays everyday, he will still be here. As he did so many times over an illustrious 20-year career he answered every question. Jeter never turned down an interview for a daily newspaper reporter, or for that matter someone who was not seen often on the Yankees beat writing for a weekly publication.

And as much as we all want Jeter to reevaluate his decision about retiring from the game of baseball, one that that places him among the greats, it will become
more difficult to say goodbye.

Because it is always difficult saying goodbye to a New York sports icon, and Derek Jeter may have been more than that.

“Today you think about it about all the things that are being said, but today I was trying not to think about it,” Jeter said about closure from the game, and that there are still games to played with his team having an outside chance to be that second wild card team.

He added, “Fortunately there is a little more time.” The hope was always that this final season would result in the Yankees going to another postseason and to do it for the Captain.

But the Yankees from the onset of this season have
never been able to resemble a playoff team. As it was again on Jeter’s day, they failed to score runs and were shutout for a second time in three games by the central division leading Kansas City Royals.

Said Jeter about his day after he came off the playing field, “It was awesome, something I will always remember. The Yankee know how to throw big ceremonies. This is a day I will remember forever.”

He thanked the fans on the field and again when he met the media in the Yankees press conference room. Jeter has never been comfortable speaking about this farewell to baseball, but those extended family of fans made it easier.

“Anyone who is here today, anyone who is at home
watching, anyone who has ever been over the course, over the last 20 seasons, thank you very much. You guys have watched me grow up over the last 20 years. I've watched you, too. Some of you guys are getting older, too. I want to thank you for helping me feel like a kid the last 20 years.”

Jeter was surprised by a few of the dignataries that showed up for his day, including another world champion he has associated with over the years, Michael Jordan, who knows something about farewell tours, saying thank you to the hometown fans and about being a good teammate, and leader on numerous championship teams.

“I appreciate it. I did not go into any expectations,” Jeter said. This retirement tour of ballparks has been different from the one Mariano Rivera received last year. Jeter is an everyday player as Rivera continued to become baseball’s all-time closer.

Jordan offered some advice, along with Dave Winfield and another legend, Cal Ripkin Jr. who all have been a part of the Derek Jeter legacy in one way or another.

“He’s prepared for this, he chose to step away from the game,” said Jordan. “His knowledge of the game is strong, he’s going to sit down with his family and think his next step.”

Jeter wants to move on with his life beyond baseball. He will be financially secure enough that could one day keep him in the game of baseball as an owner or in another capacity. Whatever he does, regardless, it will be successful.

On the field an era is coming to an end. The Yankees “Core Four” of Jeter, Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte has come to an end and there may never be another four similar in the years to come.”

“It was very strange kind of a different situation with three weeks left, a unique situation kind of tough to explain,” Jeter said about the ceremonial day in his honor. “At the same time, I am still trying to play a game.”

And at the same time, and as the days dwindle to a precious few it will harder to say goodbye to Derek Jeter.

Comment Rich Mancuso: Mancuso

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bronx Set to Honor Jeter

Bronx Set to Honor Jeter
Boro Joins Yankees in Honoring the Captain 

By Howard Goldin

BRONX, NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 4- Prior to the start of the 2014 baseball season, Derek Jeter announced he would be retiring at the conclusion of the season. At each of the final stops of the Yankees at each ballpark, Jeter was honored with gifts from the opposing clubs and the cheers of the crowds. The time for the Bronx to salute its hometown hero of the Yankees is soon to arrive.

Jeter was a first round draft choice of the Yankees in 1992. He first played for the team in the majors in late May of 1995. His accomplishments on the field and the records he has compiled have made him one of the modern giants in MLB. Five years from this year he will be, without doubt, elected as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

On Sunday, there will be celebrations within and directly outside Yankee Stadium. The 161st Street area will be filled with happy baseball fans as the much awaited celebratory event that will precede the 1:05 p.m. game between the Yanks and Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium will be a sell-out. Although the details and the name of the on-the-field guests have not been announced, the excitement is building. 
Obviously, members of Jeter’s close-knit immediate family will be present to share the important day with him. All of his current teammates and many of his closest former teammates will also be in Yankee Stadium. It is likely the Core Four (Jeter, Andy Pettite, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera) will be reunited. Other special guests could be present. Every special event and ceremony at Yankee Stadium is given the meticulous care and effort of Senior Vice President of Marketing Debbie Tymon and her staff. This will, as always, ensure a memorable event for all present.

Earlier in the week, the Yankees announced a Jeter tribute patch will be worn by all players on the club from Jeter Day on Sunday through the last game of the season. The patches will be worn on the left sleeve of the jersey and on the cap. On Wednesday night, a Yankees spokesperson denied Jeter’s uniform number will be retired during the ceremony on September 7, but will be done at a later date. 

The 161 BID (161st Street Business Improvement District) under the direction of Dr. Cary Goodman, its executive director, has made plans for a Jeter Day street fair at 161st Street and Rivera Avenue between the hours of 3 -5 p.m. 

Neighborhood residents and fans unable to obtain tickets to the game can be near the Stadium. Goodman explained the plans, “We want all of his fans to have a chance to be part of this historic day. Derek Jeter has made great contributions to New York City beyond his athletic accomplishments. We want to thank him.”

At a morning meeting on Wednesday, Goodman spoke of some of the particulars planned for the special day, a block party with music by DJ Razz, a Jeterbug dance created and demonstrated by Oman and children from a Highbridge pre-school, free souvenirs for 3,000, free cake for 1,000, a huge “Thank You Captain” banner that can be signed by fans and the Jeter Meter on which fans can send messages to their hero. Many may also want to walk one block south to look at the Jeter mural that was painted this summer as one of the 161 BID beautification projects for the community.

To commemorate the importance of the day, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Congressman Jose Serrano and Councilmember Vanessa Goodman will read proclamations honoring Jeter at the block party. The day of September 7 on 161st Street is one that will be long remembered.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Yankees Headin’ Back to the Top?

Yankees Headin’ Back to the Top?
Fans Think So

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 20- A three-game sweep over Toronto has the New York Yankees feeling confident. And it should carry towards more momentum Friday night when the Baltimore Orioles come to Yankee Stadium for three more But the Blue Jays are a team the Yankees have to chase in the AL east and Thursday night they got closer to the first place Jays.

David Phelps continued to be a momentum builder on the mound, and the Yankees once again scored first and tacked on runs. The bullpen took over as the Yankees won their third straight, 4-2.

A week ago, the Yankees had that continued issue of situational hitting missing from the lineup. The captain, Derek Jeter, struggled and Carlos Beltran, one of their key off- season free agent acquisitions, was coming off the disabled list. The past three nights in the Bronx, and against a powerful Toronto lineup, the Yankees looked like a first place team.

They are now tied in the loss column with Toronto, 1/1-2 games from first place. Does a chase for first place in mid-June have anything to do with this resurgence, or is this just the part of a long baseball season?

 “There is a lot of meaning to these games,” manager Joe Girardi commented. His team has won seven of their past nine games. “We all understand that, and we know they understand that. When you face each other 19 times, you look to try to catch people, put some distance between some people and win series."

The Yankees swept a series for the fourth time this season. This one, though, had significance with a stretch of 15 consecutive games against divisional opponents. The Orioles will present a challenge and Tampa Bay, in the cellar, always does. These were the first place Blue Jays who have gone 3-9 over their last 12 games, and been on top since the 22nd of May.

"Hey, if you're going to play in prime time, you've got to perform on the big stage and we didn't do it," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "We're fully capable of doing it. We just didn't do it. It'll be definitely good to move on.”

The Blue Jays move on. They will have time to figure out a way to break a 16-game losing streak at Yankee Stadium. Their next stint in the Bronx is scheduled at the end of next month.

The Yankees are looking at the positive side of things. The past three games everything came together, something they projected themselves to do with their off-season spending spree that surpassed $450 million in free agents. Brian McCann, the catcher, who had a go ahead home run the night before, realized the significance of winning three against the front runners.   

“We were able to score some runs,” he commented. “Swinging the bat better…It’s hard to pinpoint one thing. We’re putting together better consistent at bats. It’s big to win games. Obviously when you play teams in your division, you want to win.”

McCann is swinging the bat better. “We’re playing better baseball than we were the past couple of weeks,” he said. Jeter has been getting on base, a .405 clip in his last nine games and Brett Gardner, 1-for-3, Thursday night is batting .366, 15-for-41 over his last ten games.

"Big series for us," Adam Warren said. The reliever earned his second save of the season after retiring two Blue Jays’ in the ninth. The closer David Robertson needed a night off after pitching the first two games of the series.

 "It's nice to kind of see our team click a little bit and play some good baseball,” said Warren

These are words being said by a Yankees team that was looking for answers last week. That included the final two games out in Oakland that did not go their way. And, yes, everything is clicking, even with this contingency of a starting rotation because three quarters of the regulars are on the disabled list.

Aside from Masahiro Tanaka, and his 11-1 record, the manager is elated what he is getting from Chase Whitley and Vidal Nuno. Then there is David Phelps, (3-4) who tossed seven-innings and gave up two runs with a good back door cutter and curve, but allowed a home run to Melky Cabrera in the third inning.

“Refreshing to see guys like Chase (Whitley), one of the biggest things that motivated me,” Phelps commented. The sweep, it’s huge. We gotta win games against them.”

And winning games during this divisional stretch is what the Yankees did. Time will tell if this division will continue to be bunched with teams in September, and that also includes the Red Sox who may not be ready to give up their World Series crown.

We do know this though: Three games have sent a message that the Yankees intend to be a part of this equation by September.  

Comment Rich Mancuso: Mancuso

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Yanks Lose to Murphy's Law

Yanks Lose to Murphy's Law
Bombers Give Up 5 runs in 14th Inning
Jeter Goes 0-7

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 3- It took more than five hours and almost 500 pitches were thrown between the pitchers of both teams. The final out was recorded a few minutes before 1 a.m. Saturday morning with very few remaining at Yankee Stadium. It was one of those games in the Bronx that the New York Yankees want to forget after losing a 14-inning marathon to the Tampa Bay Rays, 10-5.

The starters, David Price of Tampa and Vidal Numo of the Yankees were long gone and of course did not figure in the decision. 

The Yankees will have to depend on Masahiro Tanaka to go deep Saturday because manager Joe Girardi used every available arm in the bullpen, except David Phelps. Instead it was rookie Chris leroux who gave up five-runs in the Rays’ 14th inning.

It was one of those nights into the early morning, in the Bronx, and the Yankees did have their chances leaving 13- men on base. The two teams combined for 38 hits, 20 coming from the Rays.

“It’s tough,” commented Girardi in a hasty and brief post game meeting with the media.”We had some opportunities later in the game. We weren’t able to get it done.” It was also the 1,000th game for Girardi as Yankees manager, the sixth manager in their history to reach that mark.

And this one will long be remembered by Girardi, and his team hopes to not let the loss linger with a few hours sleep. The Yankees squandered opportunities in the12th and 13th innings stranding runners on third with less than two outs, which promoted Girardi to say, “Days like this we gotta find ways to scratch some runs.”

And for the first time in his career, Derek Jeter had a 0-for-7 game at the plate. He’s gone hitless in a game 596 other games in his illustrious career, but nothing like this. It was that type of unusual game in the Bronx, and the longest game the Yankees have played against Tampa Bay.

“I don’t know man, it was just a weird game,” said Jeter.  “I don’t even remember the first four of them (at bats). No one wants to go, 0 for…what?” Regardless, Jeter’s hitless game will go in the record books but won’t be inscribed when his day arrives for induction in the Baseball hall of Fame.

Girardi is looking for Tanaka can provide some length, as he said, “Our bullpen’s a mess, no doubt about it.”  He used the entire bullpen, with exception of Phelps who is slated to start one of the games next week in Los Angeles against the Angels, and they threw a total of 182 pitches.

Jeter added, “Strange things happen, funny things happen.” And right now it is not funny for the Yankees who have to be concerned that numerous issues as they take a three-game losing streak into their game Saturday. One thing the Yankees don’t need is another marathon. The good thing, Tanaka is on the mound and he has been everything that was advertised in his first five starts.

Comment Rich Mancuso: Mancuso.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Yanks Shut Down

Yanks Shut Down

Rookie pitcher from Cuba leads Mariners to sweep over Yankees

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, MAY 2- Roenis Elias was not supposed to get the start for the Seattle Mariners in their three-game series against the Yankees in the Bronx. Felix Hernandez was supposed to close the three-game series the night before, but rain forced a postponement. The 25-year old left-hander got his opportunity Thursday night.

Perhaps, the Yankees would have preferred Hernandez because Elias, a defector from Cuba, in his sixth professional start gave the Yankees more than they were looking for as the Mariners swept the abbreviated two-game series, 4-2. After giving up a first inning home run to Jacoby Ellsbury, the first for the Yankees center fielder, he used a curve and fastball that were impressive.

He tossed seven-innings, struck out a career-high 10, allowing two runs and six hits. And only one run was earned due to a Mariners error in the third inning. Elias was impressive and the spotlight of pitching at Yankee Stadium added no added pressure. Of the 110 pitches he threw, 73 went for strikes.

The Mariners won their fourth straight at Yankee Stadium going back to last season. But the story was Elias who made an impression on Yankees manager Joe Girardi. The Yankees could not deal with the fastball and curve. After the sixth inning, they did not get a hit until pinch hitter Ichiro Suzuki got a two-out single in the ninth off closer Fernando Rodney.

"He was hitting his spots. He was getting ahead. He pitched a good game. He's got a good arm,” said the Yankees Derek Jeter about the rookie pitcher. "Sometimes pitchers are going to be better than you. He threw really well. He's not a typical lefty who tries to trick you. He gets it up there pretty good.”

Said Girardi: “He used his fastball and curve effectively…pretty good stuff.” After the Ellsbury home run, Elias, who spent last year pitching for Double- A Jackson with 14 of 22 quality starts, limited the Yankees to five hits.

“The adrenaline comes from the spotlight," Elias said through a translator. "I've never been to the stadium so it was good to come here and beat the Yankees. I've seen it on TV but never been here." Elias became the third rookie pitcher at Yankee Stadium to strike out 10 or more batters at Yankee Stadium.

The manager, Lloyd McClendon had Elias slated to pitch this weekend. The rain-out moved Hernandez to another day and Elias got his chance. He got the call Wednesday night from pitching Coach Rick Waits Wednesday night that he would get the ball.

“The young man threw a tremendous game,” commented McClendon. “We thought he'd be OK in this environment. The young man is tough."

Facing Derek Jeter and the Yankees, especially for the first time is a challenge. The fastball was clocked over 90 and the curve had the Yankees hitters fooled. Throw in the fact that the Yankees are having issues getting the timely hit and again they had to come from behind. Elias made sure to keep his composure.

All of the first 28 batters he faced saw strikes.

“You have to get ready mentally,” said Elias who uses the fastball as his number one pitch. “After a couple of innings I felt more comfortable and took control.

Girardi did not seem concerned that his offense went cold. “It’s early in the season,” he said. “Obviously consistency is important. It will come.” He has to be more concerned about the state of his starting pitching. Hiroki Kuroda (2-3) gave up four runs, three earned on seven hits in six innings. In his previous start, Friday night against the Angels, he gave up a career- high eight runs in 4.21 innings, in a Yankees 13-1 loss.

"I think it's a step in the right direction," Girardi said. "A lot of nights that's going to be good enough to win.”

But it was not good enough for the Yankees who welcome division rival Tampa Bay to the Bronx for the next three games. The rotation is struggling also with Ivan Nova disabled for the season and Michael Pineda serving a suspension and headed to the disabled list.

As for Robinson Cano, his return to the Bronx was met with boos from the Yankee Stadium crowd. And in two games, he went 2-for-9 with three runs batted in. His double and two RBI were the difference Thursday night.

“Both days felt good because both days we won, so it has to feel good," Cano said. "There weren't any expectations from the crowd today. I just wanted to go out and take care of business. You have to understand the fans, but it is not going to be a distraction for me."

But Cano and the Yankees were not the story this night. A kid from Cuba, named Elias, may have turned himself into a pitching sensation at Yankee Stadium.

Comment Rich Mancuso: Mancuso

Friday, April 11, 2014

One-Two Punch Sox Boston

One-Two Punch Sox Boston
Pitching, Hitting Takes Out Red Sox

By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 11- Michael Pineda made his second start of the year and his first at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night. His start on April 5 at Toronto was his first since September 21, 2011. His last victory in the majors came on July 30, 2011. A serious shoulder injury and surgery kept him out of the majors for the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
In each of his starts this month, Pineda pitched six innings and gave up only one earned run. He was given the loss on April 5 because the Yankees were shut out. The situation was different five days later. 
Yankee batters managed more than one hit in only two innings but made those hits count. Jacoby Ellsbury was safe on an error to begin the fourth frame. Carlos Beltran followed with a single to right, his fourth hit in the last two games. Ellsbury scored the first run in the game as the next batter, Brian McCann, broke a 0 for 14 streak with a run batted in single. McCann spoke about the hit, “I found a hole. I really needed that hit.” The second run crossed the plate on a double play on Alfonso Soriano.
The Yanks scored their final two runs in the next inning. With one out, Dean Anna hit his first major league home run. The 27 year-old was acquired from the San Diego Padres in a trade on November 20, 2013. The native of Illinois made his major league debut on April 4. He said, “Words can’t explain it.” He then tried to, “It feels really good to hit a home run at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox. He [Buchholz] threw a change-up [and] I hit it well.”
Asked if he felt like giving up after playing 554 minor league games before reaching the majors, the infielder remarked, “You just have to keep your head down and work, work, work.”
The second run scored that inning was by Derek Jeter, who doubled with two out. Jeter was driven in by a single from Ellsbury, in his first game against his former team. In a pre-game press conference, the new Yankee commented that playing for both the Red Sox and Yankees was “pretty special.”
The only Boston run was scored on a seventh inning lead-off homer by Daniel Nava.
The four runs for the Yankees were more than sufficient for the win because of Yankee pitching. Pineda’s six inning performance was impressive. He gave up one run and four hits, walked two and fanned seven. 
Yankee skipper Joe Girardi was pleased, “He pitched extremely well. He mixed his pitches, location was really good, he had command of the strike zone. We’re glad to have him back.”
David Phelps, the reliever who got the save with an outstanding 2.1 innings on the mound, also praised Pineda, “He [Pineda] did a great job carrying us. He keeps guys off balance.”
Girardi also gave credit to Phelps, “Outstanding performance on his part, got huge outs for us.”
CC Sabathia (Yanks) and Jon Lester (Red Sox) will be the starters of the second contest of the big rivalry on Friday night. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

One Last Time

One Last Time
Derek Jeter was the highlight for his final Opening Day in the Bronx

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, APRIL 7- Derek Jeter struck out in the first inning, his final Opening Day at bat in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium. He got cheers, and what else would be more appropriate. He has been an icon in the once “House of Ruth Built” across the street and at the new stadium since 1996, and cheers will continue until his final at bat in September.

Except, Jeter is one to not take the accolades for himself and as he said again early Monday, this is not about him. It’s about his teammates and the Yankees winning another championship. And the goal for these Yankees is to win one more this season for the Captain as Jeter wears the pinstripes for a final time.

“It’s pretty much like every opening day,” said Jeter. He said the fans always treated him with respect, they get excited and it is a big deal in New York.

He said there have been a lot of wild moments, and enjoyed each and every day in the Bronx. The fans have been special. They always knew Jeter had a priority when he took the field in the Bronx. They saw that in October of 2012, the night when his season ended abruptly against the Tigers in the American League Championship Series.

Jeter struggled to get up. The pain was etched in his face, but a broken ankle prevented the Yankees Captain from leaving the field on his own. The Manager Joe Girardi had to help Jeter off the field.

So, when the player introduction commenced, there was Derek Jeter. In the Yankees dugout, and just like every Opening Day he was nervous. It is part of being a ballplayer. The nerves will flow opening the home season, except this one was extra special.

“I think I’m curious how he’s going to handle it,” said Girardi before the first pitch. “Something like today, or the last time in a city maybe, I’m curious to see how he handles that. I’m sure he’ll take a moment to reflect on that but will it be visible that he’s reflecting on it?”

See, Derek Jeter has always been one to reflect on things, especially his marvelous career. But he never made it known how he felt. His teammates over the years have said, Jeter keeps it all inside, and perhaps that’s what made him so special. After all, this is New York. The spotlight and center of attention of the New York Yankees, that being Derek Jeter, is not supposed to have hidden feelings.

This is New York, and when you play here the entire world is tuned in.

"I think people are going to show him the appreciation no matter what happens just because of what he's meant,” said Girardi.  “You think about his rings, his World Series, All-Star Games, everything he's done and the way he's played the game, I don't think his stats will have a very big impact on how they show appreciation.”

“But the stats might have an impact on people letting him go away after this season in a sense. If he has a season like we know he's capable of, people are going to say 'why aren't you going to keep playing?’"

Jeter now has the most hits for a right-handed batter in American League history. He led off the bottom of the fifth with a double that almost cleared the left field wall for a home run. New teammate, Jacoby Ellsbury, followed with a run scoring single that gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead over the Orioles.

It was a typical Jeter swing. His head slide into second, something he could not do last year, showing no effects of an injury that kept him away from an opening day in the Bronx last year.

“I've always said that Yankees fans are the greatest fans in the world,” commented Jeter. “That is no disrespect to any other team or any other sport. That's just how I feel."

And with the “Core Four” together one more time, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, Jeter heard more of the ovations from a capacity crowd. He spent so much time in pinstripes, had those wonderful moments in the Bronx and there is no telling how many more of those moments will occur from now until late September.

For now, the Yankees and their fans will relish these final moments. It is a love affair that will never go away. Opening Day in the Bronx will just have to be a little different next April with Derek Jeter as a special guest at Yankee Stadium.

Comment Rich Mancuso: Mancuso

Monday, March 31, 2014


Return to Glory?
New Faces and Returning Faves Look to Bring Home Another Championship

By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, MARCH 31- As the college basketball season reaches its apex, the Final Four, the Major League Baseball (MLB) season is ready to begin in full force. Each team, except the two teams who began the season earlier in March in Australia, have a mark of 0-0.
Hopes are high in the Bronx as there are always expectations among Yankee fans that the team will reach the World Series or, at the least, qualify for the playoffs. 
Great changes have been made since the conclusion of the 2013 season. Iconic figures have departed. Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in MLB history, retired. Andy Pettitte, a mainstay starter for 15 seasons with the Yankees, especially effective in the post-season, retired. 
The controversial third sacker who has blasted more than 600 home runs, Alex Rodrigez, was suspended for the entire 2014 season by the Commissioner of Baseball. Robinson Cano, considered by many observers to be the best second baseman in the majors, signed a 10-year contract for $240 million with the Seattle Mariners. Starter Phil Hughes and reliever Joba Chamberlain signed with other teams as the Yankees showed little interest in signing them.
Last year’s injury riddled team finished the year with an 85-77 record and did not qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2008. The 2013 Yankees consisted of many reserves who were inserted into the starting lineup in the place of injured star players.
Stars always counted upon for consistency are returning from serious injuries. First baseman Mark Teixeira played only 15 games in 2013 after having suffered a wrist injury that required surgery. The team captain Derek Jeter played only 17 games last year after repeated ankle injuries. Jeter announced that 2014 will be his final season in the majors. He, obviously, will be making his usual supreme effort to lead his club to a successful year. 
Four off-season free agent acquisitions with a combined cost of nearly $500 million are expected to strengthen in the club in a number of areas. For the first time since Jorge Posada was behind the plate, the Yankees have an outstanding offensive and defensive catcher with leadership qualities in Brian McCann. With an impressive Spring Training showing, Francisco Cervelli beat out Austin Romine and J.R. Murphy to be the back-up catcher.
Jacoby Ellsbury, formerly of the Red Sox, will be the lead-off hitter and center fielder for the team. Although he was out two weeks with an injury in March, the Yankees are hopeful he will play a full injury-free season. 
Veteran Carlos Beltran will fill the position in right field. The former Met had envisioned playing with the Yankees years ago. If he remains as he has been the last few years, he will help the Yankees at bat and should also be a boon to the team in the clubhouse. 
Brett Gardner, on the big club since 2008, recently signed a four -year extension for $52 million. Gardner, who has a similar skill set as Ellsbury, will fill the other outfield corner in left.
Veteran Ichiro Suzuki will serve as the fourth outfielder. Alfonso Soriano, who had an excellent season after signing with the Yankees last year will move from the outfield to be the designated hitter.
Kelly Johnson at third and Brian Roberts at second will join veteran Yankees Teixeira and Jeter in the infield. While they cannot be expected to replace Rodriguez and Cano at the plate, the experienced major leaguers should be more than adequate in the field. 
The ace of the starting rotation, CC Sabathia, is hoping to rebound after a poor year. He has again lost weight, which could either be positive or negative. He appears to recognize that he needs to adjust to the loss of velocity on his fastball. 
The second starter, Hiroki Kuroda, is coming off a disappointing second half of the 2013 season. The 39 year-old can benefit the Yankees by helping major league rookie Matsahiro Tanaka adjust to the majors and the United States. 
The three young starters had outstanding springs. Tanaka was 2-0 with an excellent ERA in his appearances. Ivan Nova also pitched well. Michael Pineda, after missing two seasons with injuries, was recently named the fifth starter by Joe Girardi after an impressive Spring Training. 
The key relief spot, closer, filled nearly perfectly by Marian Rivera will be given to David Robertson. Last year’s eighth inning specialist is hopeful of being as successful as he was on 2013 in his new role. The Yankees passed on signing several respected closers to replace Rivera. 
Shawn Kelley and newcomer Jacob Thornton are expected to take over the eighth inning responsibilities. Other returning relievers include David Phelps, Dellin Betances, Cesar Cabral, and Adam Warren.

Will the 2014 version of the Yankees be sufficient to carry them into the playoffs? No one yet knows. Yankees personnel and fans certainly hope for and expect success. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Always the Captain

Always the Captain

Jeter on Season: It’s not about me

Derek Tried to Focus on Yanks’ Season Rather than Retirement

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 20- Derek Jeter will be missed by the New York Yankees and their fans when his wonderful career concludes this season. Others will also miss his presence, including members of the media. And there are many reasons why the media will miss Jeter.

Derek Jeter was not a friend to the dozens who followed and chronicled his career on the field the past 20 years, rather we referred to Jeter as the professional who answered every question and never ducked an issue. He appreciated this end of the baseball business, and that was displayed again Wednesday at his retirement press conference down in Tampa Florida.

This was the start of Jeter’s retirement press tour. Time and time again, he will answer similar questions as he makes the final rounds around ballparks the Yankees visit. He was patient and understanding.

Then, there was this comment showing his concern to the media: “You can go off to work if you have to.” A few seconds after commenting about his retirement decision, Jeter momentarily took notice of some reporters leaving the pavilion at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Jeter once again, as he has been so accustomed to doing, did not want to be the center of attention. He was the story, and he will be this Yankees 2014 season. But, Jeter also is aware that the media has a job to do. With those words, to those few leaving the press area, Jeter was handling business.

This is spring training, about the New York Yankees quest and hopeful return to the post season in October. This day, according to Jeter, should not be about him. However, that is the side of Derek Jeter that we have all come to know. It was again, more about the Yankees and not about Derek Jeter.

His comments were to the point:

“I feel the time is right. There are other things I want to do. Physically I feel great and I look forward to playing a full season. The thing that means the most to me is to be remembered as a Yankee. Yeah, I’m emotional. It’s kind of difficult because we still have a season to play.”0

He did not laugh. Jeter did not cry. He said it was not a retirement press conference. “I have feelings,” he said.

And there have been times when we knew Derek Jeter had feelings. There have been the many times, and many more this final season when reporters await him by his dressing quarters. At the old and new Yankee Stadiums, the proper answer would always come from the Yankee captain.

Then there was this comment, so typical of what we always get to hear when Derek Jeter speaks.

“Every time the Yankees win,” he said about his favorite career moment. That had to be the toughest answer Wednesday, but one expected from Jeter. And if everything follows the Yankees illustrious history, the Yankees biggest win will come with a sixth World Series ring in the final season for Derek Jeter.

He said, “I think it would have been more of a distraction if I did not mention it,” referring to his retirement announcement on his social media Facebook page last week.

The point is, Derek Jeter has never been a distraction. He has done everything right as a New York Yankee and playing in the New York spotlight, well he handled that like a true professional.

He especially handled it right with the media. He will be missed. The good news is we get to enjoy watching Derek Jeter play one more season and like he said, baseball is fun to play.
Comment Rich Mancuso: Mancuso

Monday, July 29, 2013

Jeter's Back with a Bang

But Yanks Still have a lot of Work to Do

By Rich Mancuso

BRONX, NEW YORK, JULY 29- They needed the win, with or without Derek Jeter back in the lineup Sunday afternoon. The New York Yankees got the walk-off win in the ninth inning from Rafael Soriano. For the moment, as they depart for a road trip to Los Angeles, San Diego and Chicago, the Yankees are feeling good about themselves.

They could not afford being swept by first place Tampa Bay. And the feeling was, after that Derek Jeter home run in the first inning, this would be the game. One game, for the moment the Yankees felt good about themselves after their 6-5 win in the Bronx.

The right handed bat, one they have lacked, also returned. Alfonso Soriano in his third game back in pinstripes goes 4-for-5 and a home run. Indeed, the Yankees have a better lineup and much different with a healthy Jeter at bat and on the field. And with Soriano, the Yankees also believe they have the right handed bat they need.

“Being able to win one like that especially going on the road is important,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi who was the first to show a sign of relief when Jeter deposited a ball to left field off Mike Moore in his first at bat after his second stint on the disabled list.

It was nice to see Jeter smile going around the bases.

Girardi knows, as does every Yankees fan about the significance of Jeter in the lineup. He is the captain, and one of those right handed bats that have been missed which have made this an offensive strapped and incognito lineup.

“He’s a winner, his presence,” commented Girardi. “To get a big day from him and Soriano, to be able to do what we did today was important.”

And getting home runs, the first two for the Yankees in their last nine games, that was important. “It helps put some quick tallies on the board,” said Girardi. “It changes our lineup.” Yes it does. Instead of four or six left handed hitters in a row, the Yankees now have right handed bats in between.

“It’s was fun, I worked hard to get back on the field,” said Jeter who said the home run gave his team a run and possibly the jolt they needed. He did not have fun his first time back going down again, after three at bats in the Bronx and quickly hitting the disabled list a second time with a strained quad.

It was his first home run and run batted in, and as late in the season as it is, any contribution from the Yankees and the captain is an added improvement from what has been coming from this lineup.

“I said, thank God because I did not want to play extra innings because I was tired. I was happy for Sori,” said Jeter about the walk-off hit from his teammate.

Soon, Curtis Granderson will return and add to the list of welcome back from the walking wounded. The Alex Rodriguez soap opera will continue because Major league Baseball is expected to hand out suspensions of more players with the latest steroid scandal.

A-Rod is expected to get a healthy sentence, though the appeal process could get him back in the lineup and playing ball in the Bronx. And as much as the Yankees would rather have the A-Rod stigma go away, if he is healthy and productive, the complexion of the Yankees lineup changes as could the race in the American League east.

But Jeter and Soriano, hitting home runs in the same game as teammates for the first time since 2003, was the moment Girardi has been waiting for.

They are a rejuvenated team with additions in the lineup. At the same time the Yankees have a lot of work to do, as they dug a hole for themselves with the walking wounded and makeshift lineups Girardi has put on the field.

For now, as the Yankees depart on a long road trip they can feel good about things, seven games out of first place and in the wild card hunt. A major reason why, the Captain Derek Jeter is back in the lineup and healthy with 57 games left to play.

Comment: Rich Mancuso Mancuso