Good stuff from Pete Caldera today in the Bergen Record, who caught up with Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long via telephone:
Long said the Yankees will not have a set lineup going into Spring Training, instead using the exhibition season to determine what their best fits might be.
That means the Yankees should be open to thinking about Brett Gardner as the everyday leadoff hitter, moving Robinson Cano into the three slot, dropping Derek Jeter in the order and most of the other topics that have been thrown around during the Hot Stove season.
“I think we need to [experiment]. It’s important we throw all the options out there,” Long said. “I wouldn’t say we have a set lineup going into camp. We’ll toy with it.”
Long is meeting with Nick Swisher this week and has also been setting up sessions to work with Jeter in Tampa. He has already worked with Alex Rodriguez and says that he seems to be “on a mission” like he was before his 2007 MVP season. Curtis Granderson could also brush up with Long this month.
Robinson Cano said this year that it would be “a dream come true” if he is able to bring home his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award. That could happen today, as the American League winners will be announced this afternoon.
“As a player, you always want to win a Gold Glove or a MVP or a batting title,” Cano said. “You work hard and you want to be one of the best in the game. That’s one of the things that make you work harder every single day.”
Cano, 28, led the American League with a .996 fielding percentage at second base, committing just three errors in 776 total chances – the most chances among all Major League second basemen.
The All-Star also set a Yankees franchise record with 81 consecutive errorless games at second base, from April 23 to July 26. Over the last five seasons, Cano has posted a .987 fielding percentage, handling a Major League high 3,722 chances at second base.
“I thought he should have had it last year,” Yankees infield coach Mick Kelleher said. “This year, it’s his second very good year in a row. It’s not always about making errors. I happen to be working with him every day and that’s a pleasure. As you look around the league and view it, I haven’t seen anybody even close. I think this is his year.”
High praise from a three-time American League MVP:
“When you do things like he did tonight, that’s certainly the look and the taste and the feel of an MVP. That was a huge, huge hit against their closer, on the road, trying to protect first place. It doesn’t get any bigger than that.”
Meanwhile, if you’ve been breathlessly anticipating homer No. 600…
“The way I’m swinging now, it’s probably going to take a while. Everybody get comfortable. I’m just glad to be out there helping the team somehow. I scored a run. People are asking me about home runs. I’m asking for a hit-by-pitch, infield hit, bunt single, error. I’ll get on base anyhow. The home run will come.”
Some assorted notes from Yankee Stadium for this afternoon’s 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Kansas City Royals:
MAN ON A MISSION: 3B Alex Rodriguez hit his 599th career HR in Thursday’s win vs. Kansas City, and with his next home run will become the seventh player all time to reach the 600-homer plateau…will become the second player to reach the mark as a Yankee, joining Babe Ruth.
? Hit his first career HR (off Tom Gordon, 6/12/95), his 499th HR (off Gil Meche, 7/25/07) and 500th HR (off Kyle Davies, 8/4/07) against the Royals…is 3-for-4 with 1 HR – No. 500 – in his career against today’s starter RHP Kyle Davies…according to SABR’s David Vincent, no pitcher has given up multiple milestones of either a 500th, 600th or 700th homer…only two teams have allowed both a 500th and 600th HR – San Diego (Eddie Murray’s 500th and Willie Mays’ 600th) and Pittsburgh (Mike Schmidt’s 500th and Barry Bonds’ 600th).
UNDER THE SUN: The Yankees are 24-12 (.667) in day games this season, tying Chicago-AL for the second-best winning percentage in day contests this season…only Detroit (25) has more daytime wins in 2010…the Royals (.298) and the Yankees (.290) have the two highest batting averages in day games this season…the Yankees have hit 50HR (third most in the Majors) in 36 day contests.
SPREADING THE WEALTH: 2B Robinson Cano (67R, 66RBI) and 1B Mark Teixeira (71R, 66RBI) are one of two sets teammates in the Majors this season to each record at least 60R and 60RBI (also Texas’ Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero)…along with 3B Alex Rodriguez (50R, 78RBI) and RF Nick Swisher (61R, 56RBI), the Yankees are the only team to boast four players each with at least 50R and 50RBI in 2010.
Derek Jeter DH, Curtis Granderson CF, Mark Teixeira 1B, Alex Rodriguez 3B, Robinson Cano 2B, Jorge Posada C, Marcus Thames RF, Colin Curtis LF, Ramiro Pena SS
RHP Sergio Mitre (0-1, 2.88)
Scott Podsednik LF, Jason Kendall C, Billy Butler 1B, Jose Guillen RF, Alex Gordon DH, Wilson Betemit 3B, Rick Ankiel CF, Yuniesky Betancourt SS, Chris Getz 2B
RHP Kyle Davies (4-6, 5.45)
Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano routinely puts on power displays during batting practice at Yankee Stadium – so much so that employees know the right-field seats are prime picking for souvenirs when Cano’s up – so I’m very curious to see how his swing is going to respond to the Home Run Derby on July 12.
It’s also very valid to wonder if his swing would be affected by the competition moving forward, which is something that will be discussed today when the clubhouse opens around 6:30 p.m. ET.
Here’s the official word from Major League Baseball:
Major League Baseball announced today that six All-Star players have committed to participating in the 2010 State Farm Home Run Derby.
The American League will feature Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers, Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees, David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox and Vernon Wells of the Toronto Blue Jays. The two National League participants thus far are Corey Hart of the Milwaukee Brewers and Matt Holliday of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Phil Hughes was a little bit off last night provided a few days off extra rest, as Cliff Lee and the Mariners beat the Yankees, 7-4, on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees also welcomed pitching coach Dave Eiland back after his lengthy absence for personal reasons.
It’s worth noting that All-Star balloting ends tomorrow, and while Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano are secure, the rest of the Yankees could use your help. Fans can vote up to 25 times using MLB.com, so do your part and make your voice heard.
If you were watching the telecast of Monday’s 11-2 win over the Indians, you might have seen Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano yukking it up in the dugout after belting back-to-back home runs off Chris Perez.
A-Rod’s explanation: “The other day he hit fourth and wanted to push me out of the way. I was just telling him, ‘It’s not quite time for that yet.’”
The Yankees hit back-to-back home runs for the second time this season (also Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson on Opening Day at Boston).
Nick Johnson left tonight’s game with soreness in his right wrist and all indications are that he’ll be placed on the 15-day disabled list tomorrow.
Johnson is leaving Boston and will be seeing team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad and hand specialist Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser in New York. Joe Girardi said that nothing is 100 percent just yet, but he expects there to be a DL move made. It’s the same wrist that Johnson had surgery on in 2008.
(If you want to look up Johnson’s complete and lengthy injury history, or any other player, check out BaseballInjuryTool.com
. Neat site.)
The Yankees are in desperate need of an infielder – at one point tonight, Girardi actually turned to Javier Vazquez and asked him, “You used to play infield, right?”
As for Robinson Cano, the news seems better. His left knee will be sore after it was hit by that 92 mph Josh Beckett fastball, but for the moment he’s being listed as day-to-day.
“It’s frustrating,” Cano said. “You don’t want to see your teammates get hurt. It’s the game of baseball. We hope nobody else gets hurt and we can play with our whole lineup from now on.”
Juan Miranda has big league power. He also has a man making $180 million blocking the way at his position with the Yankees. But for at least one night, Miranda got to show it off, slugging the first home run of his Major League career in the eighth inning Friday off Tampa Bay’s Dale Thayer.
The blast was of the tape-measure variety, estimated by the Rays media relations crew at 460 feet — making it the longest at Tropicana Field this season. HitTrackerOnline.com, which measures such things, actually places Miranda’s shot at 469 feet. That still makes it indeed the longest hit by anyone at the Trop in ’09, and also the Yankees’ longest of the season.
Robinson Cano had New York’s second-longest on June 29, a 451-foot shot, also at the Trop.
The Yankees now have hit 242 homers this season, tying a franchise mark set in 2004 with two games remaining.
With Jorge Posada’s 20th home run of the season in the ninth inning tonight off Toronto’s Jason Frasor, the Yankees now have seven players with 20 or more home runs.
That sets a new franchise record and ties a Major League record also shared by the 1996 Orioles, 2000 Blue Jays and 2005 Rangers (credit: Elias Sports Bureau).
The Yankees with 20 or more: Mark Teixeira-32, Johnny Damon-24, Alex Rodriguez-24, Hideki Matsui-23, Nick Swisher-23 and Robinson Cano-22. The old Yankees franchise record of six players with 20 or more home runs was set in 1961 and tied in 2004.