Phil Coke and I are both lefties. He throws a baseball pretty well and sometimes I like to pretend I can. So when we bumped into each other in the Tigers clubhouse last night, he asked me how my mop-up relief appearance went in the media game at Fenway Park on Friday.
“I bet you didn’t do a damn thing I told you to,” he said.
He was probably right, I shrugged. With a 17-run lead, the last thing you want to do is walk someone, especially with two outs, and that’s what I did against the Boston media. As I told him, that’s why he’s wearing a big league uniform and I’m holding a notepad.
Coke is almost the forgotten ex-Yankee in that Tigers clubhouse, with most of the ink being spilled on Johnny Damon and Austin Jackson. But Coke is having a nice year for the Tigers so far, posting a 1.69 ERA in a team-leading 17 appearances, and he picked up a hold last night against the Yankees by recording two important outs in the eighth inning.
“It was fun,” he said. “I was hoping I was going to get a chance at [Derek] Jeter. But I understand playing the odds with righty-righty matchup, especially against a guy like that with that kind of a resume.”
So the job went to Ryan Perry, who got Jeter to line out to right on what might have been the play of the game. Coke played a role in helping the Yankees get to the ultimate goal last year, but he said his familiarity with the team didn’t help him much.
“It’s not really an advantage,” Coke said. “You still have to go out there and make pitches and be competitive. … I was a little bit excited. But by the time the door opened for me to come into the game, I was right where I needed to be.”