Results tagged ‘ Brett Gardner ’
The fuel for the Yankees’ recent winning streak can be traced to a moment of inspiration in a bathroom mirror at Tropicana Field. At least, that’s how Brett Gardner tells the story.
Gardner is leading the charge behind a sprouting band of mustaches in the Yankees’ clubhouse, most of which have been permitted to take root while the team has reeled off seven wins in eight games going into Saturday’s Subway Series game against the Mets.
“It’s been going a little longer than you would think,” Gardner said. “It takes me a while to get it going, but ever since Tampa we’ve just been playing good. I kind of stuck with it and some other guys followed suit.”
Gardner has convinced Dellin Betances, Jacoby Ellsbury, Chase Headley, Garrett Jones, Brian McCann, Esmil Rogers and Mark Teixeira, among others, to grow some facial hair as a show of team unity. The Yankees’ long-standing policy permits growth above the lip.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of thought behind it, to be honest,” said Gardner, who said that his is the result of eight days’ growth. “We can’t grow beards, but we can grow a mustache. CC (Sabathia) is like four years ahead of everybody.”
Most of the results have been patchy; Teixeira chuckled and said that his is coming in slowly but surely, while Gardner said that Rogers has produced the best results. Of his thin growth, Ellsbury said, “I’m just trying to stay warm.”
The Yankees agreed that Betances’ mustache was the weakest so far; suffice it to say, it will not remind anyone of Jason Giambi’s 2008 ‘Support the ‘Stache’ All-Star Final Vote campaign anytime soon.
“I have no facial hair; I’m still a baby,” said Betances, 27. “I’ve never tried to grow a mustache. Mine is the worst one.”
Gardner said that he is trying to convince Alex Rodriguez to join the mustache club, and asked reporters to apply some pressure. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Gardner has tried to rope him in as well.
“I thought about it,” Girardi said. “He has asked me about it, so we’ll see. I have to answer to someone at home.”
The frustration in the Yankees’ clubhouse bubbled over on Thursday morning as several position players held an informal meeting, challenging themselves to pick up the production with less than seven weeks remaining in the regular season.
“We talked about it before the game, that we needed to come out with a little more energy, and hopefully some emotion and play the way that we’re capable of playing,” Chase Headley said after the Yankees’ 3-0 victory over the Astros. “We understand that we’re a lot better offensively than we’ve shown.
“That was kind of the point, to come out with a little bit of fire and hopefully put some runs on the board. … Some of the position players got together and said, ‘Enough is enough, and let’s go.'”
The Yankees produced a three-run second inning against Houston’s Dallas Keuchel, which was enough support as Brandon McCarthy hurled a four-hit shutout. The chat wasn’t a cure-all, but the results were slightly better: in nine games since a 10-run outburst against the Indians on Aug. 8, the Yankees had averaged 2.22 runs per game.
“We just had a little meeting this morning and talked about some things, kind of cleared the air,” Brett Gardner said. “A lot of guys talked. It was good. Hopefully a game like today kind of gets us going a little bit and we can carry that momentum over into the weekend.”
Gardner said that the meeting could be a turning point for the Yankees, who have lost seven of their last 10 games and trail the Tigers by four games for the second Wild Card.
“I don’t think it ever hurts. At this point, we’re trying to mix things up a little bit,” Gardner said. “What we’ve been doing hasn’t been working, so hopefully we can take this momentum, carry it over into the weekend and play some better baseball.”
Headley said that the Yankees are feeling a sense of urgency, but not because of the Wild Card race. Coming off two losses to the sub-.500 Astros and with the White Sox due in town, the reality is that if they do not win their games, there will be no point to continue scoreboard-watching.
“It was just, let’s get on the same page and let’s go,” Headley said. “I know everybody wants to win, everybody’s working, everybody’s doing the right things. You need that little extra sometimes and I think sometimes those little discussions – I don’t know if you’d really call it a meeting – but getting those guys together and getting guys on the same page can go a long ways.”
Before Thursday’s game, manager Joe Girardi said that he continues to believe that the players in his lineup are good enough to turn the season around.
“The effort is there every day,” Girardi said. “[Wednesday] we had seven or eight guys hitting early trying to figure this out and get going. So I will be optimistic as long as they continue to prepare correctly and they work hard.”
Carlos Beltran sustained two small facial fractures in a batting practice mishap on Wednesday afternoon, but the Yankees are hopeful that the veteran switch-hitter will be able to avoid landing on the disabled list.
Beltran was scratched from the starting lineup for New York’s 5-4, 14-inning victory over the Indians after a batted ball ricocheted off a protective ‘L’ screen in an indoor batting cage, striking him in the face.
“You don’t expect that to happen when you’re practicing,” Beltran said. “I had a headache for the whole day. Now it’s getting better. Hopefully tomorrow it will get better and I could be back soon.”
Beltran had some bruising on the bridge of his nose, but relatively little swelling. He said that the Yankees want to make sure that he feels fine on Thursday, and added that there is some concern about a possible concussion.
“I don’t know what the team’s going to do,” Beltran said. “With the concussion things, teams take that serious. Honestly, I don’t feel like I have that. But at the end of the day it’s not my decision.”
Derek Jeter replaced Beltran in the lineup and went 2-for-6 with a run scored. Beltran missed the first two games of New York’s series against the Indians with swelling behind his right knee.
“You can only change the lineup so many times and then you run out of people. It’s difficult,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He felt really good until he did that and then we had to send him for X-Rays and a CT-scan. I have to figure out what we’re going to do.”
Brett Gardner was held out of the Yankees’ lineup on Wednesday with what the speedster is calling a lower abdominal strain, an injury that bothered him during New York’s 5-3 loss to the Indians on Tuesday.
Gardner said that he was examined after the game, fearing a hernia. A doctor confirmed that was not the case, and Gardner said that he should be able to be in the lineup for Thursday’s series finale in Cleveland.
“It was bothering me during the game,” Gardner said. “I just really felt it yesterday. I actually had a bad stomach bug three or four days ago, so I didn’t know if maybe it had something to do with that. The more the game went on, the more I felt that it wasn’t necessarily my stomach.”
Girardi said that Gardner was dealing with dehydration over the weekend against the Twins. Gardner said that head athletic trainer Steve Donohue advised him to take a full day off without swinging or running.
“It’s a little strain or aggravation,” Gardner said. “I actually feel a lot better today than I did last night after the game, so that’s a very good thing.”
With Masahiro Tanaka on the 15-day disabled list, the Yankees’ starter for Sunday at Baltimore is now listed as TBA. Girardi suggested that Chase Whitley would be an option to draw the start, and that he could use his bullpen liberally in the game.
“It’s the last four days before the break and you’ve got a lot of days off,” Girardi said. “There’s a lot of different things. It’ll really depend on the next four days.”
Michael Pineda, one of the four members of the Yankees’ Opening Day rotation currently on the disabled list, is still just playing catch in Tampa, Fla. and is not expected to be big league ready until mid-August at the earliest. Girardi said that Pineda is scheduled to throw a bullpen near the end of this week.
On this date in 2011, Derek Jeter became the 28th player all-time to record 3,000 hits, accomplishing the feat with a third-inning solo home run off Rays left-hander David Price at Yankee Stadium.
Kevin Long emerged from the coaches’ room after Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to the Rays, prepared to face the music after the Yankees’ season-high fifth straight loss and their ninth in the last 11 games.
The Yankees were just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday, and though situational hitting has been one of their major concerns of the summer, it has been more difficult than anticipated to make progress in that department.
“You’re always focused on trying to do the little things, trying to score runs and trying to move runners and trying to get guys in,” Long said. “So that’s always a focus.”
Here is a rundown of the group interview that Long conducted in the Yankees’ clubhouse:
On the current issues with the Yankees’ hitters: “You’re obviously not scoring runs and you’re going to put some pressure on yourself. You’re going to try to do a little bit more. The guys are certainly well aware of what’s going on and they’re putting forth as much effort as they can. Just sometimes things don’t go the way you want them or you planned them.”
On being surprised by this, given the names in the lineup: “Yeah, it’s a little surprising. Certainly. You expect some of these guys in this lineup to perform, and at the end of the day and at the end of the year, you hope that those numbers are going to be where they should. I can tell you that they’re doing everything in their power to try to correct it. I’m doing everything in my power to try to correct it, and we’re just going to stay at it. There’s no simple formula. The work is positive and we’re working in the right directions. It’s just been tough.
What can a hitting coach do in this situation?: “You certainly can’t yell, scream or do any of that. It’s more about just staying the course and keep looking at video or maybe working on their swing or tee work, or doing flips or doing extra BP, all those things that you would normally do. Certainly that is something that we’ve really focused on and even you get away from that sometimes and you just see the ball. That’s all Beltran’s doing these last four games, and he’s been really good the last four games, so if he can continue to swing the way he has the last four. It looks like Brian McCann made a positive move today. You have to look at those things and you have to try to move forward on those, because we can’t get anything back that has already happened.”
On Yangervis Solarte needing to make adjustments: “When Solarte was swinging the bat well, he was very aggressive and he was swinging with authority. He’s just a little bit inbetween and a little bit unsure. We looked at his video and he’s a little hard to his front side and he’s just a little tentative. We’ll just stay at that.”
“I don’t think they’re pitching him any differently. He has taken some walks and for the most part swung at good pitches, but I’m sure he’s feeling it, just like a veteran would. He’s a rookie so someone like that will probably put a little more pressure on himself than maybe a veteran would.”
Encouraging signs from the rest of the lineup?: “Obviously, the top three have been pretty good all year, Jeet, Gardner and Ellsbury have swung the bat well. Ichiro has been pretty consistent all year. Teixeira has hit some home runs, driven in some runs. I think the biggest two we’re talking about is if McCann can do what he did today and Beltran — that’s four good games in a row where he’s really had good quality at-bats.
“We’ve kind of changed his routine and changed what he’s done as a DH to try to help that process become really active with him inbetween innings. Walking around, talking about things instead of just sitting in the video room and maybe thinking about an at-bat. So that’s been one adjustment that I think has moved in a positive way for us. So again I just hope that he continues on what he’s doing and McCann today was very positive.”
On Brett Gardner hitting for more power: “Gardy’s made adjustments every year he’s been in this league. He’s basically picked up where he left off last year. He’s an extremely confident individual who continues to get better and better, he’s a very aggressive hitter in the zone. He’s not late. He attacks fastballs and he doesn’t miss them. I think the consistencies of his mechanics in his swing have enabled him to this little power surge that we’ve seen.”
Ever think that maybe this is just what you have?: “It’s about winning games, and we need to do whatever we can to win games. Obviously offense has been an issue all season. These guys understand it, I understand it. We’ve got to turn it around somehow and you’ve got to believe the guys that are in the room, they’re the only guys that can turn it around. Again it’s not from lack of effort, it’s not from not wanting to do it, it’s just one of those things where we need these extra 80 games for guys to prove themselves. McCann is on a mission, Beltran is on a mission. Everybody needs to pick it up a little bit, including the Gardners, including the Ellsburys, and then these guys that have underperformed — they need to pick it up as well.”
On his early expectations for this offense: “I don’t know — obviously more than what we’ve done. Are we capable of scoring 4-5 runs a game? I would say so. Even when we had the powerful offenses, I would think four runs a game was kind of that mark that you shoot for. Jeet said it a bunch of times: let’s win innings, try to score every inning. You start there instead of trying to maybe put up a four spot or five spot all in one inning.”
On drastic changes: “Oh, we’ve done all kinds of stuff. You always make adjustments and always make changes. Nobody here probably even saw what Brian McCann did today. If you just look at his stance, look for a toe tap today and see if you see one. That’s one of those things where if you look at video, you can say see, ‘Whoa, he did make an adjustment.’ You’ll see those adjustments from guys as they go along. They’ll continue to make those adjustments to try to help themselves be more consistent.”
I need to pack up the ornaments and stow the Christmas tree away for another year; space is, as always, at a premium when you live in New York City. This is a long way of saying that I know we’ve got some catching up to do, closing the book on the holidays and trying my best to stop writing 2013 on all of my checks.
Here’s what’s cooking:
We’ll have new Hall of Famers to celebrate this afternoon at 2 p.m. ET, but I wouldn’t expect any of them to be wearing Yankees caps in Cooperstown. Mike Mussina has a strong case and I think that he’ll eventually get in, as voters consider the fact that he won 270 games while pitching in the American League East in a performance-enhanced era of slugging. All that time, his strongest supplements seemed to be either Mountain Dew or something covered in chewy nougat.
There’s plenty of analysis of his pitching career in the link I posted, so let me just share an anecdote here. Remember when Joe Girardi tried to ban sweets from the clubhouse in 2008? No one howled louder, or more often, than the Moose. I remember him sneaking in a few Krispy Kreme doughnuts and devouring them at his Yankee Stadium locker with satisfaction, something that still makes me laugh to this day. I believe the voters will eventually come around on Mussina, but not on the first ballot.
Who’s on third? I don’t know.
No, really. I don’t know. If we time-warped to April right now, I suppose the Yankees would have to go with Kelly Johnson at third base, but that’s a depth chart that still looks very much incomplete. They’d like to find someone to platoon with Johnson, and Mark Reynolds would make a lot of sense for that (Michael Young, I suppose, but less so). That market seems to have been slow-moving. I don’t expect Alex Rodriguez’s suspension to be completely thrown out by independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, not with the fireworks of last month, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see it be knocked down from 211 games to a lower number. That announcement could come any day now.
Gardner scores a Thurman
Brett Gardner is among those who will be receiving Thurman Munson Awards on Feb. 4 in New York; former Yankees David Cone and Jim Kaat are also on the list. In this awards and dinner season, you’ll also want to consider attending the New York BBWAA dinner on Jan. 25.
In case you missed it, former Yankees pitcher Darrell Rasner spoke to WFAN’s Sweeny Murti this week about his experiences pitching with Masahiro Tanaka. The Q&A is definitely worth your time. You can expect the Tanaka sweepstakes to heat up very soon, though I suspect the bidding might go all the way down to the Jan. 24 deadline.
I never knew I needed to have an 1989 Topps Jake Taylor card, but I do.
And a friendly reminder, as I stare out the window and consider if it’s worth upgrading to a North Face jacket: Yankees pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Feb. 14.