Results tagged ‘ All-Star Game ’
NEW YORK — During his two previous trips to the All-Star Game, Mark Teixeira’s favorite part was the clubhouse chatter prior to the actual exhibition, when the best in the business share anecdotes about their experiences and routines. He wasn’t sure those conversations would ever include him again.
After two seasons largely lost to injury, Teixeira’s health has returned, with his repaired right wrist permitting him to club doubles and homers with regularity. The Yankees slugger is heading to Cincinnati as a reserve for the July 14 Midsummer Classic, joined by Bombers reliever Dellin Betances and perhaps Final Vote candidate Brett Gardner.
“I think this is probably my most special of all,” Teixeira said. “I mean, I’ll always remember my first one. I didn’t know if I’d ever make it back to an All-Star Game. But just putting in the work and the dedication of saying, ‘OK, if I get healthy I know I can be the player I was in the past.’ That hard work paying off means a lot.”
Teixeira, who also represented the American League in 2005 and 2009, entered play on Tuesday leading the AL with 59 RBIs, ranking among the league leaders in slugging percentage (.532, seventh), walks (44, tied for fourth) and isolated power (.289, second). His 20 first-half homers were the most by a Yankee since 2012.
“I knew what I had to do to get healthy again, get stronger and get back to being physically where I wanted to be,” Teixeira said. “You don’t forget how to play the game. I’ve kind of always remembered how to hit, remembered how to play defense. Those things don’t leave you, but getting strong again was the big thing.”
Tabbed as an All-Star for the second successive season, Betances said that he might be more chatty in the clubhouse this year. As a first-time representative in 2014 at Minnesota’s Target Field, Betances kept his head down and listened while the AL celebrated Derek Jeter’s final appearance, but Betances might play a more key role for the squad in ’15.
“Anytime you get picked, especially by your peers, guys you play against, it’s exciting,” Betances said. “I’ve worked hard and just to be here playing with the Yankees is already a great feeling. When you get selected for the second time, it’s kind of surreal, to be honest with you.”
Royals manager Ned Yost has said that his working plan is to give the ball to Betances for the seventh inning. After not being called upon in the game at Target Field, Betances said that assignment sounds great to him, and that he looks at the selection as just one more rung in his career ladder.
“I’m never going to be satisfied, and continue to work hard,” Betances said. “It took me a long time to get up here. Obviously, the second time means a lot to me and my family, but I’ve got to continue to work hard. There’s other goals that I want to accomplish as a player. For us to get back to the playoffs is something that I’ve been focusing on more, as a team goal.”
NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez hoped a trip to Cincinnati would be a cherry on top of an eventful first half that has already seen him return from suspension to pass Willie Mays on the all-time home run list, collect his 3,000th hit and 2,000th RBI, but the Yankees slugger will instead watch the All-Star Game on television.
“I’m obviously disappointed,” Rodriguez said. “It would have been fun to go out and represent the American League, that’s for sure. But I know that while serving the suspension, the time off was very good for me. I hope the four days will be, too.”
Rodriguez finished fifth among AL designated hitters in the fan vote and was not voted in as a reserve by his peers. Royals manager Ned Yost, who is piloting the AL squad, said that he gave consideration to carrying Rodriguez but preferred a player with more positional flexibility.
“We talked about A-Rod a lot,” Yost said on ESPN. “You look back at this five-man vote and we have three infielders, two outfielders, and we felt that it was important that we don’t — we have Brock Holt that can play anywhere in the infield, but any other position we have a starter and a backup.
“In the outfield we have three starters and three backups. So I just felt very strongly that if we could get another infielder or another outfielder out of that five-man vote it would help us. That’s what went in that decision.”
Rodriguez entered play on Tuesday ranked among the AL leaders in OPS (.902, eighth), on-base percentage (.390, sixth) and walks (44, tied for fourth), batting .284 with 16 home runs and 47 RBIs. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he thinks Rodriguez deserved a nod.
“I do; I do,” Girardi said. “But every year there’s going to be players that are deserving that aren’t chosen just because of the way it’s done. I’ve been a big proponent of increasing the roster, but that hasn’t happened. I think you could make a great case for Brian McCann. It’s hard for me to figure out why he’s not there with the year that he’s had. Sometimes it works that way.”
Rodriguez’s past performance-enhancing drug use surely was a factor in some of the voting, but two other players with ties to the Biogenesis case, the Mariners’ Nelson Cruz and the Cardinals’ Jhonny Peralta, were named All-Stars.
Cruz is the AL’s starting DH via the fan vote, while Prince Fielder of the Rangers was tabbed as the AL’s backup DH. That left no room for Rodriguez, in Yost’s view.
“I think the fans made a very wise choice and I think Yost had a very difficult decision,” Rodriguez said. “You can’t go wrong with Prince. He’s had a phenomenal year and he’s also a big comeback story, so I’m happy for Prince.”
Though it might have contributed to him spending the All-Star break in Miami rather than Cincinnati, Rodriguez lauded Girardi’s decision to use him as a full-time designated hitter, saying that it has helped to keep his bat and body fresh through the first half.
“I knew I was a long shot. I gave myself a long-shot hope,” Rodriguez said. “There are so many great players in the American League and I’m only a DH. For a long time, I was at shortstop and third base and there were multiple ways of getting in. I’ll be watching, I’ll be cheering and I hope we get home-field advantage.”
NEW YORK — The brainstorming sessions started in the Yankees’ offices shortly after Brett Gardner was named as one of the five candidates for the American League Final Vote on Tuesday, with officials tossing around some creative ways in which the outfielder could campaign for a ticket to Cincinnati.
Gardner had a front-row seat to watch Nick Swisher’s over-the-top push to the All-Star Game in 2010, and though it was ultimately successful, it’s also not a recipe to fit all personalities. Gardner would prefer to let his numbers do the talking as he looks for his first career All-Star selection.
“You guys know me. I’m more of a low-key guy,” Gardner said. “I know the team’s going to do their part and hopefully some of my teammates step up. I don’t even have a Twitter account. I know they’re going to try to get me some votes. I’m going to focus on playing, helping us win games, and we’ll see how it turns out on Friday.”
Gardner hopes to join Swisher and Hideki Matsui (2004) among Yankees players who have made it to the All-Star Game via the Final Vote ballot. He has been given the Twitter hashtag #VoteGardy, but for now, the promotional rubber bald caps – just one of the team’s rejected ideas to pump the vote – will remain in storage.
Gimmicks may not be necessary. The 31-year-old Gardner is tied for third in the Majors with 60 runs cored, ranks fourth in the AL with 15 steals, is tied for fifth with 21 doubles and ranks ninth with a .373 on-base percentage. Entering play on Tuesday, he was the only AL player batting at least .295 with nine homers and 15 steals.
“I voted last night,” Yanks’ All-Star reliever Dellin Betances said. “Whatever we’ve got to do to get him in, he’s done a hell of a job. Obviously Jacoby (Ellsbury) went down for a while and he’s been in the leadoff spot doing everything he can, playing every day, stealing bases, robbing base hits, starting things up for the rest of the lineup. He’s done it all. I think we’ve got to get him in somehow.”
“I hope the New York fans come out. I would love to see Gardy make it,” Yanks’ All-Star first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “It would be really cool to have him with me there, and with Dellin, to represent the Yankees. So hopefully Yankee fans will come out to support him.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he believes Gardner is a deserving All-Star, and that it is “refreshing” to see his on-field performance to comprise his entire candidacy.
“This is a guy that wants nothing to do with self-promoting himself, making the All-Star team,” Girardi said. “He’s not going to be a part of a campaign, he’s just going to go out and play; go out and help us try to win.”
Some were surprised that Gardner was in a situation where he needed to lobby for more votes – his numbers compare favorably to the AL’s starting left fielder, Alex Gordon of the Royals. Gardner said that he hopes the Yankees’ widespread fan base and the New York media spotlight will help his cause.
“I do play for the Yankees. That’s got to count for something, right?” Gardner said. “That’s just the way I want it and like it, and is kind of the way I’ve always been. I’m not going to change who I am for this Final Vote deal for these couple days.
“I’m just happy; honored to be a part of it, happy to be mentioned alongside all these great players. If it works out I’d obviously enjoy going to Cincinnati next week and being a part of it.”
The afternoon of Derek Jeter’s final All-Star Game started with a ride in the back of a slow-moving pickup truck, waving to the crowds along the red-carpeted streets of Minneapolis as the vehicle rolled toward the players’ entrance of Target Field.
It concluded with the retiring Yankees captain doffing his cap to a standing ovation that lasted nearly three minutes, finishing 2-for-2 with a double and a run scored as the American League’s leadoff hitter before being replaced at shortstop for the fourth inning.
“Any player that says they don’t want to go to an All-Star Game is lying to you,” Jeter said. “It’s something everyone wants to be a part of. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of a few of them and I’m happy that I had a chance to do it one last time.”
In February, when Jeter announced his intention to walk away at the conclusion of the season, he thought that it would be great to attend one last Midsummer Classic. Credited with his 14th selection and ninth fan-voted election, the Yankees captain rose to the occasion.
“You know what? He has a flair for the dramatic, as we know,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell, who piloted the AL squad in its 5-3 victory. “Two base hits and scores the first run; it worked out pretty well.”
Hearing some of the loudest ovations during pregame introductions, Jeter dirtied his uniform diving for Andrew McCutchen’s first-inning infield hit, then walked to the plate as the AL’s leadoff hitter in the home half of the frame.
As Jeter dug into the box, accompanied by a recording of the late Yankee Stadium legend Bob Sheppard, pitcher Adam Wainwright set his glove on top of the mound and stepped back. His hands bare, Wainwright led the rest of the NL squad in applauding.
“I just felt like that was what he deserved,” Wainwright said. “I wasn’t going near it. I’d still be standing there if the crowd kept cheering.”
Jeter tried to urge Wainwright to pick up his glove and start the game, but the Cardinals hurler refused, allowing the fans a few extra moments to cheer.
“I’ll always remember it,” Jeter said. “I have never faced Adam before, I haven’t really talked to him, and he’s one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. For him to do that during tonight’s game, it says a lot about him and how much of a class act he is.”
After a brief conversation with Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, Jeter jumped on Wainwright’s second pitch — a 90-mph cutter — for a double down the right field line, then scored the game’s first run on Mike Trout’s triple.
“He said congrats, and then, ‘What does this guy have? I’ve never faced him,'” Lucroy said. “It’s not like he needed to know. He hit a double right down the line.”
Wainwright later created a stir by saying that he’d intended to give Jeter “a couple pipe shots” down the middle to hit, a remark that he later backed away from.
“I should probably hush up,” Wainwright said. “I completely was trying to throw a strike. I was fine with him putting it in play. I did not think he was going to get a hit.”
The double was Jeter’s first extra-base hit in the All-Star Game since he homered in the 2001 contest at Safeco Field, and Jeter defused the controversy with a splash of humor.
“If he grooved it, thank you,” Jeter said. “You still have to hit it. I appreciate it, if that’s what he did.”
Jeter’s second at-bat came in the third inning against the Reds’ Alfredo Simon, working the count full before dunking a 3-2 pitch into right field for a soft opposite-field single, advancing to second base on a wild pitch before being stranded there.
“I tried to get him out, but if he got a base hit, it’s no big deal,” Simon said. “It’s the All-Star Game. I’m happy for him.”
Farrell had planned to have Jeter take two at-bats and then replace him defensively in the fourth, something that Farrell said he conferred with Joe Torre about over the last week.
Former teammate Robinson Cano brought Jeter’s glove and cap out to the field, and Jeter went through the motions of pre-inning tosses to first base until Farrell sent Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox out to take over.
“I wasn’t expecting it, but the manager came up to me and asked me to go into the game in the fourth inning,” Ramirez said. “It’s such a great honor to have that moment with an a legend of American baseball. I’m really proud to have had that moment.”
The strains of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” began to play over the PA system, and during an ovation of more than three minutes, Jeter tipped his cap numerous times — a uniform piece he’d later donate to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
“I thought it was great. I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Jeter said. “My back was turned and I heard Cano yelling, but usually when he yells I ignore him. Then I saw Ramirez coming out. It was a wonderful moment that I’m always going to remember. I appreciate John doing that for me.”
“When you’ve witnessed a guy have such a great career, there’s a moment of celebration, but I think we as fans know that every career can’t go on to infinity,” Farrell said. “There’s a point and time where things start to close out. He’s able to do things in such a class way that tonight was another example of that.”
With a TV cameraman capturing his movements for the home audience, Jeter hugged every person wearing an AL uniform, then took one final curtain call and watched the remainder of the game from the top step of the dugout.
“It makes me feel good. The All-Star Game is about everyone that’s here, not one particular person,” Jeter said. “I’ve always been uncomfortable, so to speak, when the focus is on me. I felt as though the focus should be on everyone that’s in this game.
“For the players to do what they did, you play this game and try to have respect for the game, for the players – both your teammates and your opponents – and for them to do that, that would be much better than if there was something that was scripted.”
Jeter finished his All-Star career with a .481 (13-for-27) batting average, which ranks fifth all time among players with at least 10 at-bats. At age 40, Jeter became the oldest player to have two or more hits in an All-Star Game. The previous oldest was Carl Yastrzemski, who was 39 when he had a pair of singles in the 1979 All-Star Game.
“You’ve got to be blessed,” Cano said. “Not everyone gets that kind of ovation. Seeing it, I played with him a long time, and I know what kind of person he is and what kind of player he is. He deserves it and I’m happy for him.”
Lauded on Tuesday by Commissioner Bud Selig as “the face of baseball,” Jeter said that he has appreciated everything in his career to this point. Nike aired a tribute commercial before Jeter’s first at-bat, with many celebrities and sports luminaries offering Jeter a literal tip of the cap.
“I’ll try not to mess it up over the next couple months,” Jeter said, with a smile.
The lights may be dark on Jeter’s All-Star career, but there are even more important games that Jeter wants to participate in. He will be back on the field with the Yankees on Friday in the Bronx, where he hopes they can begin a second-half surge toward October baseball.
“Even today, you try to enjoy it because it’s your last All-Star Game, but we have another game in two days,” Jeter said. “It’s kind of hard to juggle the two. I’m going to enjoy it, savor it, but the season still continues.”
You can sense a shift in the excitement level when Derek Jeter approaches, walking up the tunnel to the dugout, spikes clacking on concrete. The photographers begin throwing elbows and jockeying for position, reporters ready their microphones, and even some of the players seem to jerk their heads around and pay closer attention.
It’s still the American League and the National League, playing for home field advantage in the World Series, which is a big deal. Yet this sure feels a lot like a midsummer celebration that is going to revolve around Jeter, something that he still doesn’t seem sure about. To Jeter, they’ve all been special.
“I’ve always enjoyed All-Star Games,” Jeter said. “This is a game that I truly have always looked forward to. I’ve appreciated the time that I’ve had here. It’s kind of difficult to say I’ll try to enjoy it more because I don’t know how much more I can enjoy it.”
The media crush around Jeter’s table this afternoon made Dellin Betances shake his head and laugh. A first-time All-Star, this is all new to Betances, but even someone in their first hours on the floor can tell that there’s a different energy here.
“Oh man. Watching him in his last year, this is amazing,” Betances said, with a laugh. “I’m honored to be here. It’s a great experience getting to meet these guys and know them a little bit. For me, just being here with Jeet’s last year, I’m honored to be here.”
This Midsummer Classic, marking Jeter’s 14th All-Star selection and his ninth fan-elected start, figures to be different than those that preceded it. Jeter will be in the spotlight from the first pitch on, with Red Sox manager John Farrell slotting Jeter to lead off for the American League.
“It’s a rare and unique opportunity,” Farrell said. “At the same time, we are able to celebrate a player who is not only a champion, but a guy that sets the bar that I think all players should aspire to.”
Here are some assorted reactions from All-Stars in both leagues about Jeter’s final trip to the Midsummer Classic:
Mike Trout, Angels: “I would just turn on the TV and knew he was the best player. Just the way he carried himself; he isn’t out there talking smack, he’s just letting the championships speak for him.”
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: “It’ll be neat. Jeter’s been my role model, watching him as a kid, competing against him, seeing him from a young player, to now an older player playing in his last All-Star game, it’s going to be an honor. It’s something I’ll always remember, taking the field and playing against him.”
Johnny Cueto, Reds: “It’s amazing actually seeing him right now. I think he can still play. He wants to go home and be with his family. He deserves to retire. I think he’s one of the greats of all time.”
Victor Martinez, Tigers: “You know what, I think I’m going to cross the line a little bit, but I think Major League Baseball needs to do something with those kind of players like him. They don’t come around often, and he should go to the Hall of Fame as soon as the season’s over. I have a great amount of respect. He’s a guy I always looked up to. He plays the game the right way.”
Todd Frazier, Reds, on standing next to Jeter as a 12-year-old in 1998: “I’m just looking around like a kid in a candy store. I talked to him three years ago. We worked out together in Florida for a little bit. I said, ‘Do you remember that?’ He started laughing. He said ‘Holy cow, don’t tell anybody.’ That’s just the way he is. He’s a happy-go-lucky guy and I can’t wait to see his final All-Star game playing against him.”
Terry Francona, Indians manager: “That’s one of the things I’m looking forward to the most the next couple of days, to see how he is received. He embodies so much about what is good about game. To be able to watch him in person, I’m really looking forward to that. It’s kind of an honor to compete against him and his team because of the way he goes about things.”
Jon Lester, Red Sox: “It will be pretty cool. I don’t want to age him too much but watching him grow up, obviously the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry and having to deal with him all the time … I’m just glad he’s finally done so I don’t have to face him anymore. It will be a cool experience to be a part of this and he deserves everything that he gets and hopefully he won’t get hounded too much and he can actually enjoy it and have fun and really take away some memories from this for him.”
Max Scherzer, Tigers: “It’s going to be awesome. Last year I got the experience of being here with Mariano for his last All-Star Game, and that was an unbelievable experience. The All-Star Game is already cool enough, but to have a legend go out just made it even better. When that happens on Tuesday with Jeter, what he’s meant to this game is only going to make it that much more special for everybody involved – fans, players, everybody. We’ll always remember this.”
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: “He’s kind of been the face of the game for the past 18 or 20 years. It’s always good when you have a guy like that; LeBron in the NBA, we had Brett Favre, now there’s Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers (in the NFL). To have a guy like Jeter, he embodies all that baseball is. He’s a winner, he’s a great player. I can’t have any more respect for a guy. We’re going to miss him and it’s exciting to be here for his last All-Star Game.”
Robinson Cano, Mariners: “I can’t wait for that. He’s a guy I love. The way he was with me when I was in New York, he was a great teammate; one of the best, maybe the best ever that I’ve had. I can’t wait to be able to spend time with him today.”
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: “It’s going to be great. I had the chance to do it last year with Mariano. It’s going to be a great experience. I look forward to today and tomorrow to talk to him, try to steal something from him so I can be a better baseball player.”
Ron Gardenhire, Twins manager: “He’s one of these guys who is what baseball is all about. He’s the probably the most professional guy. He’s in the community and has always handled himself really well. And also, he’s a winner. He’s brought championships to that baseball team over there and the whole package. He’s just a guy who makes everyone around him feel good. That’s what leaders do. We’ve had guys like that like Puckett. They always make everybody feel good around you.”
Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins: “It will be very special, his last one is going to be awesome. Hopefully there is something dedicated to him and acknowledging him. I was able to play against him in Panama and see that whole atmosphere and just the respect. It’s unmatched. It will be cool to be on the same field again and be a part of it.”
Tyler Clippard, Nationals: “I was in the Minor Leagues at the complex there in Tampa, and as a young kid, probably about 18 or 19 years old — watching him walk around, very much in awe just because it’s Derek Jeter. I think I asked him for his autograph and he was very cordial, very nice about it. It made me feel like I was part of the team, even though I was just a Minor League kid.”
Henderson Alvarez, Marlins: “The fact that I get to be on the same field as Derek Jeter who is here for his last is something that makes me overjoyed, something that is important to me. I just anticipate enjoying it and soaking it all in.”
Mark Buehrle, Blue Jays: “It’s been cool. He’s owned me over his career, so I’m not too sad to see him go and get out of the game because it’s a hard at-bat. Obviously what he has done for baseball over the course of his career, he’s the top guy in Major League Baseball on and off the field. So it’s going to be sad to see him go.”