Derek Jeter will begin yet another Minor League rehabilitation assignment on Thursday, joining the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders for their 7:05 p.m. ET home game against the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Jeter is recovering from a Grade 1 strain of his right calf, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Jeter is slated to play five innings at shortstop. Jeter worked out in Tampa, Fla. again on Wednesday and ran the bases, according to Girardi, who said that he expects Jeter will play at least two games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
“As I’ve said, we’ll just go day-by-day and see how he responds each day,” Girardi said.
It is possible, but not a sure bet, that Jeter could re-join the Yankees on Saturday at Tropicana Field.
Ichiro Suzuki collected two hits in the first game of Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader, giving him 3,999 career hits when you combine his Japanese and Major League totals. We all love round numbers, and so obviously his next hit will be a big one.
“I’m trying to get a hit every time and I’m excited to get up there to do that,” Ichiro said.
Ichiro isn’t in the Yankees’ lineup for Game 2 against lefty Mark Buehrle, which gives us a little more time to examine this. How exactly to interpret the accomplishment is up for debate, and even Ichiro himself isn’t quite sure how to view it.
(This is nothing new. Here’s a 2008 Seattle Times article that wondered how to handle Ichiro’s 3,000th hit.)
What is certain, though, is that 4,000 hits is a remarkable feat – as Derek Jeter said recently, “That’s a lot of hits, man. It’s pretty impressive. I don’t care if it’s 4,000 in Little League. It shows how consistent he’s been throughout his career.”
Now, no one is saying that Ichiro is challenging Pete Rose’s 4,256, but that hasn’t stopped some voices from discounting the achievement. One common refrain has been that if Ichiro’s 1,278 hits in Japan should be counted in his hits total, then we should also be counting the Minor League hit totals of players.
That was something I looked into last week for this article, which has some fun comments from around the league. You might be surprised by the results:
The argument has been made that if Ichiro’s NPB stats are considered, then perhaps Minor League statistics should also be credited in considering hit totals. But to do so just further highlights the select group Ichiro is about to join.
For the purposes of this exercise, only three additional players would then reach 4,000 professional hits: Hank Aaron (3,771 in Majors; 324 in Minors), Stan Musial (3,630 in Majors, 371 in Minors) and Jigger Statz, an outfielder who tallied 737 of his 4,093 pro hits with four big league teams from 1919-28.
Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial (and, for good measure, a guy named Jigger Statz!). That’s pretty select company, no matter where your career started. Oh, by the way, Ichiro’s 2,721 big league hits also tie him with Lou Gehrig on the all-time list, and there’s no debate about that one.
Here’s Ichiro’s complete career hits breakdown entering Tuesday’s second game:
2,721 in American League
1,278 in Japanese Pacific League
156 in Japanese Western League (minors)
3,999 in U.S./Japan major leagues
4,156 in professional baseball
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go read up on Arnold “Jigger” Statz.
Alfonso Soriano said goodbye to his Cubs teammates on Thursday in Arizona, then boarded a red-eye flight here to New York. If the deal was 99 percent completed last night, as we hammered out in those stories from Arlington, it’s 99.99999 percent done as I type this right now.
The only remaining hurdle was Major League Baseball approving the transaction due to the money involved, and that’s just a formality at this point. Soriano is going to be in pinstripes this weekend, and the YES Network’s Jack Curry has already reported that Soriano will be issued his old uniform No. 12, having negotiated it away from Vernon Wells.
Update — it’s now 100 percent official. Soriano is batting cleanup for the Yankees tonight vs. Tampa Bay.
Yankees captain Derek Jeter made sure to point out he was not speaking for the front office this week in Texas (these days in Yankee-land, it’s best to parse your words carefully when speaking publicly, a fact Jeter knows very well) but he also left little doubt that Soriano would be welcomed back into the clubhouse quite easily.
“Everybody knows how I feel about Sori,” Jeter said. “I said it when we traded for Al — he’s someone that you develop a relationship with and you miss them when they leave. We had a great relationship. … He had a lot of power, stole a lot of bases. Sori did a lot when he was here. He was pretty exciting.”
The Yankees are reportedly surrendering Class-A pitcher Corey Black in the deal, and the Cubs are picking up all but about $6.8 million of the approximately $24.5 million Soriano is owed through 2014, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. About $5 million of that is expected to count toward next year’s payroll for the Yankees.
“I’ve changed a lot,” Soriano said yesterday. “I have a lot of memories with the Yankees, and how those players treated me and how they treated people, and that’s what I took with me. Now, I go back, and it makes me more excited because I’ve learned a lot about baseball, and I learned a lot personally.
“Those veteran guys like Mariano [Rivera], Jeter, Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Bernie [Williams], those guys helped me a lot,” he said. “I used to be a rookie, and those guys treated me very well, like a professional, and that’s what I learned, and that’s what I tried to give wherever I go.”
At age 37, Soriano may not be as electric as he once was, but this is sure to be a popular move with the fan base. It also can’t hurt a lineup that has desperately needed some added production, particularly against left-handed pitching, an area where Soriano has actually done quite well this year.
“He’s been a productive player over his career, there’s no doubt about it,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said this week. “He’s been an exciting player, a guy that could steal 40 bases, a guy that could hit 40 home runs. He’s been a good player.”
At age 37, Alfonso Soriano may not be what he once was, but there’s little question that he could help the offensively-challenged Yankees. It’s not surprising, then, that the Yankees and Cubs are discussing a deal that would bring Soriano back to the Bronx.
The discussions are believed to be in the early stages, and nothing is imminent. The Yankees clearly would take Soriano, especially if the Cubs are willing to pick up a large chunk of his remaining salary, and Chicago would be looking for one or two Minor League prospects as they continue to sell off pieces of their team in advance of the July 31 Trade Deadline.
What would Soriano offer the Yankees? For one thing, a quality bat against left-handed pitching, something they sorely need. Here’s one notable chunk from the story posted above:
New York has been particularly vulnerable against left-handed pitching, one area at which Soriano has excelled this season, batting .280 (33-for-118) with six homers, 13 RBIs and an .820 OPS.
The Yankees’ team OPS against left-handers is .649, which ranks 28th in the Majors; only the White Sox (.640) and Nationals (.621) have been weaker against southpaws.
I could see a scenario where Soriano plays some outfield while helping to push the struggling Travis Hafner out the door. It is remarkable that there’s a situation where the Yankees might have Soriano and not Alex Rodriguez for the rest of the season, but that also would be premature. We’ll have more updates as this develops.
TONIGHT: Phil Hughes (4-9, 4.57 ERA) has the ball for the Yankees. Alexi Ogando (4-2, 2.93 ERA) is going for the Rangers. First pitch here at Rangers Ballpark is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET.
Here’s the Yankees lineup: Gardner 8 Ichiro 9 Cano 4 Overbay 3 Wells DH Nunez 6 Lillibridge 5 Mesa 7 Romine 2 Hughes RHP
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera spoke rather candidly this afternoon about Major League Baseball’s suspension of the Brewers’ Ryan Braun and the potential implications it may have for Alex Rodriguez.
Here is a quick transcript of Rivera’s thoughts:
On the Braun suspension: “If he has admitted that he did something wrong, he knows what the league is going to do. It’s not rocket science here. Hey, if you did something and you admitted it, who am I to say something different, you know what I mean? I just want to make sure that the game is played clean and should be the way it is.”
On if he is worried about A-Rod: “In a sense, I can’t say anything because I don’t know. I don’t know what happened with Alex. He’s my teammate and I have to support him 100 percent. I really don’t know until something different happens. We need to see where this goes. The good thing about this is we’re cleaning the game. That’s the way it should be. I think this is a message for whoever tries to do this again, that it’s going to be caught. It’s going to be caught.”
On if he would feel differently if a teammate admitted using, as Braun did: “I wouldn’t. Everybody does their stuff. I don’t know what the reason [is]. I’m sure they have reasons. You know if you do something like that, you know you’re going to get caught and you’re going to pay the consequences. Simple as that. If you did it and you don’t get caught, well, good luck. But if you get caught, and 99.9 percent of the time you’re going to get caught, you know that you’re going to pay the consequences.”
On if he would stand behind A-Rod if suspended: “Yeah, I mean, I have to support him. He’s my teammate. He’s my brother. Definitely, I don’t say if he did or didn’t do it. If it happens, I can’t throw him in the street, you know? He’s still my brother.”
As we prepare for the second half of the season to begin, why not take one last look back at Mariano Rivera’s All-Star Game experience?
Check out this video from MLB.com featuring interviews with many of the American League and National League All-Stars, discussing their feelings on being a part of what turned out to be a very special event in New York, as well as their thoughts on Rivera’s illustrious career.
“You know what you’re going to get and you still can’t hit it. Think about that,” the Orioles’ Adam Jones said. “In life, if you know what you’re going to get and you still can’t do it — think about that. And he was great at it. Just one pitch, a cutter. You still don’t hit it. Still.”
And of course, we’ll never get tired of watching this:
Last night’s All-Star Game at Citi Field will be remembered as the Mariano Rivera game, as the moment when Rivera was given his well-deserved and authentic outpouring of admiration.
Whether you were clutching a sweaty ticket in the field-level seats, wearing a uniform in either dugout, watching at home on television or hammering away on a MacBook in the left-field press box, your emotions were likely the same as Rivera reached the mound with Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” filling his ears — chills.
Rivera looked around, realized he was completely alone on the playing field, and doffed his cap to all corners of the ballpark. He later admitted that he was fighting back tears, choked up with emotion as every player and coach bathed the retiring great in applause.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” Rivera said. “I wanted to come and do my job. When I was crossing the field, I got to the mound, and then the song — I heard that song in another stadium, that was great. And when I got to the mound, I saw both sides, both teams in the dugouts, and it was amazing. It almost made me cry, too. I was close. It was amazing, a scene that I will never forget.”
People will argue, of course, that it would have added to the moment if Rivera was entering for the ninth inning and not the eighth. Tigers manager Jim Leyland had his reasons, fearing a late lead change that would have made the bottom of the ninth impossible, and I’m sure it’ll be a great debate for years that Leyland could have changed his mind after the American League went up by three runs.
I also don’t believe it really matters in the grand scheme of things. The All-Star Game stopped, very appropriately, to honor and respect Rivera on one of the biggest stages imaginable. Once play resumed, Rivera set down the NL in a clean 16-pitch inning, the AL held on for a 3-0 victory and Rivera received the All-Star Game MVP award.
If the Yankees don’t make it to the World Series and it turns out that this was Rivera’s farewell to the national audience, it was a wonderful way to say goodbye.
Here is how some of the players from both sides will remember the night:
Pedro Alvarez, Pirates: “Him coming in, I grew up watching the guy pitch, and he’s such an exemplary player and person. To be able to share that moment with everybody else here was pretty, it’s going to be unforgettable, that’s for sure. It takes a very special person for something like that to happen.”
Bruce Bochy, Giants manager: ”It was moving. What he’s accomplished in his career and the person that he is, I can’t say I know him, but I’ve heard enough about him that he’s such a class person and a great ambassador to the game. For him to get honored like that was moving, a very special moment, and our players, you know, they showed their respect and appreciation and so it’s a really neat deal, which he richly, richly deserves. So that was a neat moment.”
Allen Craig, Cardinals: “That’s one of the moments I’ll never forget. That was probably one of the coolest at-bats I’ve had in my career. I just thought it was extremely special that the stars kind of aligned for me to have a chance to face him. I respect him so much and the career that he has had. The more that I play in this game, the more I respect guys who have longevity and continue to produce like him. It’s just an amazing thing. I was honored to get the chance to hit against him. It was cool.”
Michael Cuddyer, Rockies: ”No question. He’s the greatest of all time. Anytime you’re in the midst of history like that, you’ve got to appreciate it. Even if it is a competition, you appreciate what he’s done for this game, for this profession, the way he’s carried himself and handled himself and the way he’s dominated.”
Chris Davis, Orioles: ”It was awesome. It was good to be on his side for once. Just knowing what he’s done in his career and what he means to the game, it was special to be a part of it. I was glad he really took his time and let it all sink in. Obviously it’s a tribute to what he’s done in his career, and what we all think about him.”
Prince Fielder, Tigers: “It’s pretty cool, because ’96 I was there in the clubhouse for his first World Series. So it’s pretty cool to give him the ball, especially since I was a kid when he won his first World Series.”
Carlos Gomez, Brewers: ”It gave me [goosebumps]. When I see Mariano, I continue to clap. Because a guy like that, like a gentleman, like a great person and a fantastic ballplayer and real professional, it’s a guy that everywhere you see him, on the field and off the field, you’re going to tip your cap. He deserves it, now and when he’s retired.”
Torii Hunter, Tigers: “He deserved it. We understand, as players and competitors, what he’s done in this game. We know how hard this game is, and for everything that he’s done in this game, that was well-deserved. We’re looking at greatness. We can tell our grandkids, ‘Hey, I went to the All-Star Game with this guy, I played against him,’ and that’s the living proof right there before your eyes. It’s sad, but at the same time you’re happy for him.”
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: “It was cool, man. I’m glad I got to be here to see that. That was such an awesome thing for him to get to do and for us to be a part of. I was just happy to see it.”
Jim Leyland, Tigers manager: “The night was full of emotion, and to be honest with you, this is one of the toughest games I ever had to manage, because you have all these different scenarios that might happen. Really, the show tonight — even though we won the game, and a lot of guys did a very, very good job. I don’t want to slight anybody — but this was really about trying to manipulate so we got Mariano at the right time.”
Joe Mauer, Twins: “I didn’t know that was going to happen. We were kind of like, what’s going on? Coming in the eighth, your initial reaction is like, why isn’t he pitching the ninth, but you understand the situation and that was a nice moment. … I got to close out an All-Star game with him in ’06, so that’s something I’ll always remember. We got some pictures and stuff like that. And it was my first All-Star Game, so that was pretty cool.”
Mark Melancon, Pirates: ”I was actually getting loose while he was throwing, getting ready to go in. It was cool. In 2009, I came up with the Yankees and got to be in the bullpen with him. I got goosebumps as he was walking out the gate. Just a really special moment.”
Joe Nathan, Twins: “We definitely wanted to see him in the ninth, but you want to guarantee that he goes in and has his moment. Regardless of what inning he got to pitch tonight, that moment was pretty cool. Pretty cool for us as players, pretty cool for the fans, and I’m sure it was absolutely amazing for Mo. Obviously it would have probably been even better in the ninth for him, but we got him in the game, we got him his moment and we got a win.”
Salvador Perez, Royals: “Seriously, I got a little nervous. As soon as I saw him coming to the mound, I said, gosh, it’s unbelievable. Last All-Star Game that Mariano Rivera pitched, I will catch. That’s awesome.”
Sergio Romo, Giants: “Wow. Extremely humbling just to meet him. For me to shake his hand and let him know how much I respect him, then for him to come back and say, ‘Thank you, Romo.’ Wait. You know my name? Wow, what a feeling just to know that I’m visible to a person like that, someone I feel is a hero in the game, a guy who I personally look up to. Why not try to be like the best example, who is Mariano Rivera. I saw it live. Very special.”
Chris Sale, White Sox: “The bigger picture is just being a part of a game that Mariano was a part of. Mariano Rivera is the best in every aspect of pretty much everything. So just being a part of a game that he’s a part of meant the world to me and I’ll never forget it. … I don’t think I’ve ever had a baseball experience like that in my entire life. Being able to witness the greatest of all-time, ever, was a very humbling experience. It’s something I’ll never forget. Ever.”
Mike Trout, Angels: “It was probably the most memorable moment I had, besides playing and starting, just to see him come out to the field. It was pretty special.”
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: “Obviously he deserves everything he got, the MVP and all that, the standing ovation. But when you’re sitting there trying to score runs off the guy and you’re clapping for him, that makes it a little difficult. That was kind of a situation I’ve never been faced with.”
Justin Verlander, Tigers: “What a class act. Listening to him talk, it’s something I’ll never forget. I got a Rivera jersey signed. I got a Rivera All-Star jersey. I thought about a Yankee jersey, to give him that, but this is an opportunity that I’m a teammate of his, I’m here with him.”
Ben Zobrist, Rays: ”Those moments, it’s hard to put into words. A guy like that who’s played as long as he has and had the impact that he’s had on the game. But you could just see in his face how genuine he is, how humble he is. We were able to share that moment with him, and that’s the last one that he’s going to have at the All-Star Game. It’s certainly a special thing for us to be able to be here with him.”
Derek Jeter has been diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain of his quadriceps and will not play through the weekend, Yankees GM Brian Cashman announced today.
That will permit him to rest through the All-Star break as well, which the Yankees are hopeful will allow him to avoid going back on the disabled list.
Cashman said that would be the best case scenario, but also cautioned there is still a chance he’ll need to be retroactively placed on the disabled list after the All-Star break.
A Grade 1 strain is the slightest, or least severe, of the three possible grades.
It has been eight months and 28 days since Derek Jeter last played in a Major League game. That long wait, it appears, is about to be over.
Jeter has been added to the Yankees’ roster for Thursday’s 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium, ending his Minor League rehabilitation stint. The game will be Jeter’s first since he fractured his left ankle in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series last season.
Jeter had been scheduled to DH for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday, but the Yankees decided to push Jeter’s return up a day after Travis Hafner bruised his left foot hitting in the batting cages on Wednesday evening. Jeter played in four Minor League games, three at shortstop and one at DH, and went 1-for-9 with four walks and three strikeouts.
Jeter will serve as the Yankees’ DH against Kansas City’s Ervin Santana.
Here’s some commentary from Yankees manager Joe Girardi:
On having Jeter back: “It’s nice. It has been a long time. We were expecting it to be Opening Day but he had the setback where he had the new fracture. it’s really nice to be able to put him in the lineup.”
On expectations for Jeter: ”We’re not exactly sure. We always expect Derek to play at a high level. But the situation that happened last night with the two guys, one fouling a ball off his foot and the other guy getting hit by a picth, and not sure of the availability of them today, talked to Cash after the game last night, he called Derek to see how he was, and he said great, of course, and so wer’re going to use him as a DH today.”
On playing Jeter at shortstop: ”We might have to work to that a little bit, because he has not really been extended in the field, but the situation kind of called for it. It’s kind of the same thing that happened with Nunie in a sense. The situation called for it. There’s one thing that you can’t predict, you can’t predict what was going to happen last night with two of our guys, so I’m not so sure exactly how we’ll do it over the next few days, but we’ve got to be smart about it.”
Here’s Yankees GM Brian Cashman:
On Jeter’s readiness “He’ll finish his rehab off in the big leagues. The roster changes that occurred in the game last night made us do some adjustments along the way, obviously with Hafner going down primarily. Derek was scheduled to DH tonight in Scranton, so when we lost Hafner on a day-to-day situation, right away the thought popped into my head. Had a phone conversation with Gene Michael who was in Scranton. He said he’s moving around well. He looks really good. He hadn’t completed the whole profile we had setup for him in his rehab. I had been staying in touch with Derek. He feels good. The Gardner circumstance too so now Joe is in a situation approaching today in a day game where you lose Gardy as he’s day-to-day, you lose Travis, so Vernon Wells goes out into the outfield. It was just an obvious situation where he can DH tonight in Scranton or he can DH today in New York. Might as well bring him in and DH him in New York. I talked to Derek last night. Got him on the phone probably around 11:15, 11:30 as I was driving home. All I had to hear from him was, ‘Hey, I’m ready.’ And he said that. I said, ‘All right, well, head on back.’”
On Jeter’s excitement: “He’s not an excitable guy. Everyone knows this is where he needs to be, so I think he was just waiting. He knew the game plan, but I also talked to him earlier in the week and said it could be sooner. And it turned out that way based on the circumstances of last night’s game here in the Bronx.”
On expectations for Jeter: “I don’t have any. Bottom line is, Derek, he’s one of the all-time competitors. He’s healthy. He’s moving around well. He’ll have his days when he really helps us. He’ll have other days where obviously the opposing pitcher will dominate those at-bats. That’s the way this stuff works. He’s going to be competing on a daily basis against those opposing pitchers and providing the defense. More times than not, he’ll be extremely good for us. That’s just the nature of the beast. We’re better with him here, period. Regardless of what today’s outcome is. Given the circumstances that occurred yesterday, it’s just better for us to be in a position to run him out here today than hold him off. I know we have some weather issues that could affect us here as well as Scranton. I’d rather have him deal with sitting around and whether he’s going to play or not play in the Bronx vs. Scranton.”