Results tagged ‘ Yankees ’

Ellsbury reached out to Farrell

When free agents bolt for a new home — like Jacoby Ellsbury did back in December — you sometimes don’t hear about the good-byes they have with their former organization.

Manager John Farrell noted this morning that Ellsbury called him shortly after signing his mega-deal with the Yankees, and it sounds like it was a good conversation.

“He called after the deal was agreed upon and to his credit, he called to say thanks,” Farrell said. “I got the sense he was a little surprised it happened so fast and the magnitude that it happened. And I wished him well. We’re certainly going to miss him but now he’s on the other side. He handled it with a lot of class. He was very grateful for his time here  and he gave thanks to the way things unfolded last year.”

Farrell will see Ellsbury in person on March 18, when the Red Sox go to Tampa to play the Yankees. The Red Sox open a four-game series in the Bronx on April 10. But the more noteworthy meeting will come April 22, when the Yankees make their first visit to Fenway Park.

Red Sox weigh in on Jeter’s retirement

Sometimes you learn the most about a player from what his top rival thinks of him.

Several Red Sox players, and manager John Farrell, commented on Jeter announcing he will retire after the 2014 season.

John Farrell: 

“In some ways, bittersweet. I think we all have enjoyed watching him play, the way he’s carried himself, the way he’s performed in between the lines. And yet you realize that players don’t go on forever. I guess in a word, he epitomizes the word professional, in just the success he’s had and the way he’s conducted himself on and off the field in a city like New York and to do it in the style that he has — he’s synonymous with winning and just a Yankee legend.”

How about game-planning against Jeter?

“Oh, like many good hitters, you couldn’t take the same approach each time.You had to find ways to stay ahead of him and his thought process. He was just a model of consistency. When you think of the guy, he’s 10th on the all-time hit list, he’s 120 to becoming the number six guy. All things wrapped up in one, you’re talking about elite performance, durability, long-term career, multi-world champion. He sets the bar for the way guys go about their game.”

Jeter’s last regular season game will be at Fenway Park.

“If it wasn’t in New York, maybe it’s fitting that it’s in Boston given the number of series he’s played both regular season, postseason — he was in the middle of a rivalry for 20 years. “

Clay Buchholz:

“A little bit surprised, but the guy has done about as much as he can do in this game and … First-ballot Hall of Famer. Growing up idolizing him as a player, he was the ideal shortstop, it was fun to get to pitch to him a couple times I got to. And also fun to watch what he could do.”

“He was as down to earth as down to earth gets. For somebody to be the captain of that team and that franchise for as long as he was there, being able to keep everything on an even-keel, do everything as a professional, it was pretty special.

“He was obviously always a threat first pitch of the game — you saw him a number of times hit the first pitch of the game out of the park. Oo I had to spot up pitch  and hopefully get him to chase something out of the zone. That’s what’s hard about him – everybody says his hole is down and away, but you see how many hits he gets to the opposite field, so he’s just a tough guy to pitch to overall, and just a really good baseball player.”

Farewell tour, “I have no idea. I’m sure it’s going to be really special. There wasn’t one person in the game that disliked him in any way. He’ll get the best of everything at every park he goes through throughout the season. It’s what he deserves too. I wish him the best of luck.”

Last regular season game for jeter at Fenway: “It’s going to be crazy. There’s not going to be any boos in the stadium. He’s going to be treated well in his farewell. It’ll be a special day for everybody.”

Interactions with Jeter:  “When they’re taking BP he’ll pass me, that’s basically how it’s been. The last couple years it’s, ‘Hey Buch, how you doing? Good start last night,’ or whatever. It’s never been sit-down dinner or anything but he’s always been really personable to me.”

DANIEL NAVA:

“His consistency speaks for itself. The type of he player he was to everyone, whether you were a rookie or 10-year vet. I know for me, he knew that was my first season in 2010, he said congrats and everything like that. It means a lot when it’s your first time. We had a lot of rookies on the team and they all said the same thing.”

“Clutch. As clutch as they come. I think everyone admires a guy like that, who can do what he does in the regular season and then obviously in the postseason on the biggest stage, and he did that consistently.”

“I think at least for my generation, that’s all you know. I’m sure prior generations can say the same about any great on any team, but certainly for the Yankees and a lot of guys that grew up watching Derek Jeter play for the extent that he’s played.

Last reg. season game against Red Sox: “I haven’t gone that far down the schedule yet. It’s going to be a special day. I hope for his sake his last game would be at home in front of the Yankee faithful, but either way it’s probably fitting that it’s either at home for the Yankees or against the Red Sox.

MIKE NAPOLI:

“After the year he had last year, battling injuries, trying to come back, I don’t know. He knows his body best. It’s kind of sad to see this is his last year, but, my God. I mean, growing up, looking at a professional athlete, you’d probably want to take a good look at his career and how he handled it.”

“Just the way he went about his business. He played for a big-market team that won five championships. He came to work every day and handled himself well. It’s sad to see him go.”

“I got to talk to him at my first All-Star game. If I don’t really know you, I’m not going to go up to you and try to talk to you or anything. But I definitely watched the way he played and the way he went about his business.

“It’s crazy. The run they had. You looked at the Yankees, you looked at those guys.”

Last game against Red Sox, “Someone like that, one of the greatest Yankees, to be on the field with him for his last game would be pretty cool.

Facing him, “I was hoping he’d get himself out. I remember calling the game the way he stayed inside the ball. Hopefully he was getting himself out, rolling over a pitch or popping something up. He’s always a tough out. You knew he was going to give you a tough at-bat every time up.”

Damon can relate to Ellsbury’s likely move to Bronx

Eight years after Johnny Damon left the Red Sox for the Yankees, another center fielder who led off for a World Series championship team in Boston is about to do the same.

This time, it is Jacoby Ellsbury. It is a story Damon can relate to better than anyone else. I caught up with Damon on the phone a little while ago.

“The good thing is Jacoby brought two World Series championships to Boston and he’s a heck of a player. It just seems like he’s finding a way to stay healthy and he’s going to be awesome for New York. Unfortunately for Boston fans, this is kind of what happens sometimes. As much as your heart belonged to Boston and everything, it comes down to being a business. Unfortunately we’re part of that.”

Ellsbury was a first round pick by the Red Sox in 2005, Damon’s last year in Boston. They were always compared as players, though Damon probably had a little more power while Ellsbury possesses more speed.

“I feel like I was part of the Jacoby Ellsbury business. If they signed me, maybe they would have traded Jacoby. Or Jacoby may not have gotten that shot in Boston,” Damon said. “Things work out for a reason. Unfortunately some fans don’t see it that way. Jacoby has always been compared to me, in a way, since he was signed. So this is just that other comparison. I wish him the best and, yeah, it’s pretty crazy.”

Damon’s power benefited in New York, with the easy pull shots to right and right-center. He hit 77 homers over four seasons in New York, compared to 56 over that same time-span in Boston.

“Oh, I think it’s going to play great for his swing,” Damon said. “He has power and still has a lot of good years left in him. And the thing is, New York needed to do it. They’re not looked at as one of the elite teams. With that signing, it puts them right back into the race again. I thought maybe a month ago, a scenario would play out but I thought maybe Boston would do what they could to sign him.”

Damon hopes Ellsbury doesn’t get quite the same backlash he did from Boston fans.

“I think it depends on what people make of it. Jacoby just helped the team win another World Series,” Damon said. “They’re going to be grateful for that. But the Boston fans are notoriously hateful to Yankee players. The way that Jacoby plays, he’s still going to have the respect throughout the league. The fact is, he hustles, and that’s what Boston wants – somebody who cares about the game and somebody who would run into walls and who would take accountability, and that’s the guy. Yeah, it’s going to be tough at times but he’s a good enough player that the fans are still going to respect what he gave to Boston and what he’s going to give to New York.”

What is it like adjusting to the New York market after playing in Boston?

“I actually thought going to New York was easier to deal with just because there’s so much going on because baseball isn’t the New Yorkers’ everything. They’ve got so many sports teams to follow, they’ve got Broadway, they’ve got actors and actresses, Wall Street, all that stuff. everybody can kind of do their thing. In Boston, it’s great, people invite you to dinner every night. People pay very close attention there, I would say more of a percentage of people. “

And Damon ended the conversation with this.

“And hopefully he enjoys both places as much as I have.”

When Damon left Boston for New York, the Yankees gave him $52 million over four years. The Red Sox were willing to offer four years at $40 million.

In this case, the Red Sox likely weren’t going to go near the seven years the Yankees are willing to invest in Ellsbury.

Youk: I’ll always be a Red Sox

When the Red Sox open their season at Yankee Stadium on April 1, it will be a somewhat jarring sight to see Kevin Youkilis in Pinstripes, starting at third base.

For a few years, nobody was more representative of the Red Sox than Youkilis, with his grind-it-out style of play. But we all know how it ended.

Youk met with the New York media after arriving at Spring Training on Thursday. Here are some highlights.

On the lack of facial hair:  “Last year, I was with the White Sox. We had moustaches and then I shaved it off. I’ve been clean-shaven here and there over the years, but fully now for the rest of the year. I think I’m not the type of person who kept it well-groomed at all times, anyway, the length varied all the time, so. I’m not all that picky about my looks.”

Getting to know Yankees fans: “It’s funny, a lot of fans have been good. There’s been Yankee fans that yell at me and say stuff on the field, and there’s been Yankee fans that bought me beer at the Super Bowl last year when the Giants played. I was in line, and two Giants fans, they were nice to me, so, it’s kind of a heat of the moment thing on both sides. but when you’re out in public you don’t get it too bad. I’ve had it a couple of times when people yelled stuff.”

Feel like a Yankee? “Uh, yeah. Got the number in there, got the pinstripes. it’s definitely real. it’s going to be an enjoyable time this year. I’m just going to trying to go out there every day and play hard and try to win a World Series.”

Remembering the Boston years: To negate all the years I played for the Boston Red Sox, and all the tradition, you look at all the stuff I have piled up at my house and to say I’d just throw it out the window, it’s not true. I’ll always be a Red Sox, you know. Guys play on different teams and that’s a part of your history, that’s a part of your life and you can’t change that. it was great years in Boston. One bad half year doesn’t take away from all the great years I had there and all the good things I’ve been able to along the way and accomplish as a team, as an individual, it was great. I saw a Red Sox fan this morning and bought him a coffee and just talked. It’s part of your life. It’s not defining. I know the rivalry is so hyped up and all that, but as players, the fans are still going to like you or dislike you in the heat of the moment, but when all is said and done, I’m just another human being who’s going to go through those doors, and some other guy is going to go through them when I’m done.”

Reaction from Sox fans this season? “You never know. Some people will be appreciative and some people might, you know, in life some people see it in black and white and some people see it in grays, so, for me it’s, you hope fans appreciate it, but you also understand, hey, you’re playing on the team that’s the enemy in their eyes. they might cheer you the first at bat and boo you the next. But it all sounds the same. You just take it in stride.”

Damon gets his due

A very nice moment unfolded during the Mother’s Day home game against the Indians on Sunday, one that, in my humble opinion, was long overdue.

Between innings, as the Indians were getting ready to hit, the Red Sox placed one of their memorable moment montages on the scoreboard in center field. With Johnny B. Goode playing on the sound system, the highlights of choice came from Johnny Damon’s monster Game 7 against the Yankees in 2004. Damon had two homers — including a grand slam — and six RBIs in that game helping the Red Sox complete their historic comeback from 0-3.

After the highlight was over, the Jumbotron camera panned to Damon standing in the Indians’ dugout. The fans gave a nice applause and Damon actually stepped out of the dugout and waved to the fans.

It was a great moment — one that was not possible in 2006 when Damon took a better offer from the Yankees and left Boston.

Damon received boos at Fenway during his entire time in New York. When he came back with the Tigers in 2010, he had an injury and didn’t play. Last year, Damon was back in town several times with the Rays — another division rival — and continued to get boos, though not as hash as the ones he received in New York.

But with the Red Sox celebrating the 100th anniversary at Fenway this season, people can’t help but get a little nostalgic. One of the central figures from the most memorable season in team history is Damon, and I think fans are finally feeling that again. There were two players who drastically changed the culture of the clubhouse in the middle of the last decade. They were Damon and Kevin Millar. Players like that loosened everyone up and played a huge role in the success of the team. And while Millar was a nice player for those teams, Damon was one of the most valuable. He always played, no matter what injury he had. He worked great at-bats. He came through with hits when needed. But it just ended so badly for him when the market dried up for him and the one team that offered him a big deal happened to be the Yankees, who trumped Boston’s 4-year, $40 million contract with a 4-year, $52-million deal.

Damon truly appreciated the kind gesture by the Red Sox on Sunday, and the nice reaction from the fans.

“That was very special. It’s the first time since I’ve been back that they’ve given me recognition for what I did with the Red Sox. It’s the first highlights that I’ve seen of me doing something good. It was definitely very special,” Damon said. “Obviously, I would like to thank the Red Sox for putting it up and I’d like to thank the fans who did applaud me, the fans that really appreciate how I go about my business and play baseball.

Damon doesn’t dispute the notion that playing for the Yankees — and maybe even the Rays — prevented such a display of gratitude before Sunday.

“Possibly. I knew there were hard feelings on both sides for a while,” Damon said. It seems like everything is getting back to normal. I really wanted to come back here when I became a free agent. They failed to sign me. Unfortunately, the only other option was New York, but I’m still happy I had that experience, because I think I know better than anybody now how both sides are. I’m just very appreciative that I’ve been able to play for both sides and also to be able to be playing on my seventh team right now.”

Thanks to MLB.com Indians scribe Jordan Bastian for the quotes from Damon.

Jeter stands by ‘flip play'; Tito weighs in

It had to be an amusing scene at Yankees’ camp today, what with Terry Francona roaming the clubhouse as a broadcaster and Derek Jeter being asked to defend perhaps the defining play of his career, which happened, oh, 11 years ago.

This came on the heels of Bobby Valentine saying on Tuesday that he thinks that Jeter was out of position on that flip play, and that the Red Sox would never practice that alignment in their cutoff drills. The moment in question happened on Oct. 13, 2001, Game 3 of the Division Series between the Yankees and A’s. Terrence Long lined a double into the corner, and Shane Spencer missed two cutoff men. But there was Jeter on the first-base side of the mound, in position to flip the ball home to Jorge Posda to get Jeremy Giambi, who didn’t bother to slide.

Valentine did tell me this morning he wasn’t trying to malign Jeter because he said, “I love Jeter”.

Anyway, here is what Jeter had to say from Yankees camp. Thanks to colleague Adam Berry for passing these quotes on.

On Bobby V. disputing the notion that the Yankees actually practiced that play. “I mean, we do. You know what I mean? You’ve seen it. You guys have been here.”

What does he think about this being a topic of conversation? “I don’t think anything. I really don’t. I have no thoughts whatsoever. Who cares? Why are we talking about this? They must be bored over there, huh? I don’t understand.”

Valentine’s motivation? “I don’t know Bobby well enough to tell you what he’s trying to do. I could care less, I guess is the best way to put it. I just don’t know why it’s brought up.”

“Think about it. We don’t practice it? We do. You guys see it. What else can I say. I was out of position? I was where I was supposed to be.”

Terry Francona’s view of the flip play?” I’m sure some of [what Valentine said] is in jest,” Francona said. I don’t know. I wasn’t there, and I’m out of it. I’m out of it. To me, it’s not important whether the Yankees practice that play or not. The fact of the matter is that he’s good enough to make that play. You could practice that play until you’re blue in the face, and he’s probably still the only guy who makes that play. That play was part of baseball lore. Again, I don’t doubt they do practice it. He’s probably the only guy that makes the play. He sees the field better than anybody in baseball. He’s the one guy that makes that play.”

Jeter was much happier to talk about his fellow captain for all these years, Jason Varitek, who will formally retire on Thursday.

“Talking about Varitek, I’ll point out the good things — an unbelievable career. I’m happy for him. I enjoyed competing against him all these years. That’s what we should be talking about as opposed to what Bobby said.”

Valentine praised Varitek in a blanket statement yesterday adding that he “beat up Alex”.

A-Rod didn’t feel like touching it.

“Like I said, I’m not going to win many battles here when it comes to words, especially against Bobby. But I will tell you this, I got my new press secretary that should be landing in the next couple days, Reggie Jackson, so I’ll let him handle that. All right? Thanks.”

More from Jeter: Rivalry still strong? “It’s the same. I don’t know. I can’t tell you that he’s trying to stir it up. I don’t know why you would have to stir it up. I think our rivalry gets so much attention anyway. But I am not saying that he is stirring it up.”

What will Jeter say to Bobby V. when he sees him?

“Hey, Bobby. That’s about it. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, really. A lot of people have said that I wasn’t supposed to be here, and I’ve told you guys from Day 1 that’s where I’m supposed to be. That’s what we work on. He’s not the first person to say that. Since I’ve come up, we’ve done it the same way. We might be doing something like that the next couple days, so I invite all you guys to come out there and see that I’m in the same spot every time.”

How about seeing Tito in the Yankees clubhouse? “Yeah, I’ve always respected Terry. I’ve enjoyed playing against him, getting to know him throughout the years. I have a lot of respect for him and how he manages. Every player that I’ve ever talked to about him appreciated the way he managed and the way he dealt with players. I always had a lot of respect for him. Yeah, it is [strange having him in the clubhouse]. But it’s good to see him. He did a great job. It goes without saying how great he did in Boston. I’m happy to see him.”

Bobby V. doesn’t buy Jeter’s legendary ‘flip’ play

One of the most memorable plays in Yankees history, without question, came on October 13, 2001. It is now known simply as the flip play. In Game 3 of the Division Series between the Yankees and A’s,  it was the bottom f the seventh inning, the Yankees clinging to a 1-0 lead and down 2-0 in the best-of-five series.

Terrence Long belted a double into the right-field corner, and right fielder Shane Spencer air-mailed two cutoff men. Somehow, Derek Jeter was standing on the first base side of the pitcher’s mound, and caught the errant throw, and then http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=19792193&c_id=mlb flipped it (as you see here in the video) across his body to catcher Jorge Posada. Jeremy Giambi inexplicably never slid, and was tagged out. The Yankees won the game, and the series.

And more than 10 years later, new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine pretty much considers the play to be blind luck.

Valentine had his team work through just about every type of cutoff and relay during Tuesday’s workout, but he didn’t incorporate a version of the Jeter ‘flip’ play.

“We’ll never practice that,” Valentine said. “And I think he’s out of position. And I think the ball gets him out if [Jeter] doesn’t touch it, personally. The Jeter-like simulation today is that idea of what the first baseman and third baseman [are doing] as the ball is coming in because they have to read and maybe change the position where the shortstop is when the ball is coming in from right. He does have to react to the ball. When you see the ball in flight, you have a chance at those positions to adjust. He was out … it was amazing that he was there. I bet it was more amazing to say they practiced it. I don’t believe it, personally.”

Teixeira weighs in on Bobby V.

Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is among those who think it’s good for the game and good for the rivalry that Bobby Valentine is about to be named the next manager of the Red Sox.

Speaking at an event in New York, Teixeira said, “I think it’s great. This rivalry is great for baseball, I’ve said it a million times. It’s great for both cities, but baseball as a whole, it seems like everyone stops just to watch those 18 games. Bobby Valentine is a great manager and he’s a funny guy. He’s got a great personality. I think the interviews either before or after games are going to be a little more interesting, and that’ll be good for both teams.”

But Teixeira thinks his relationship with Valentine will have to take a new twist.

“I was joking around on Twitter and Facebook, I don’t know if he’s going to let me hit at his facility anymore in Stamford. I’ve been hitting there for two years now at Bobby V’s academy and he’s there a lot. He’s a very busy guy obviously, but we’ll go and we’ll talk about hitting, we’ll talk about baseball. I don’t know if those conversations are going to be kept to a minimum now,” said Teixeira.

Still no word on when Valentine’s official unveiling will be, but Thursday seems logical.

Friday Night Lights

You can finally see the Red Sox for yourselves on Friday night, when they travel to Tampa to play the Yankees. It will be the first NESN telecast of 2011.

With a split squad coming up on Saturday, the Sox won’t bring their “A” team to Tampa to play the Yankees.

Clay Buchholz draws the start, but none of the nine projected Opening Day starting position players will be on sight.

Jason Varitek will catch, and the infield will include Lars Anderson, Jose Iglesias and Jed Lowrie. The outfield will be represented by Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava.

Before the club leaves for Tampa, Josh Beckett — recovered from his mild concussion symptoms — will throw three simulated innings in the bullpen. Adrian Gonzalez also might take live BP for the first time this spring.

More from the day Gonzo was unveiled

An impactful move by the Red Sox is one that makes the Yankees take notice. Yes, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is fully aware of the type of damage Gonzalez might do against his team for the next several years.

“It makes them a great team,” Cashman said. “He’s a heck of a hitter. That’s a huge addition for Boston. We know what our areas of weaknesses are that we need to tackle, and that’s what we need to continue to focus on. But they just obviously improved themselves in a significant way. He’s one of the premier players at that position in the game.”

Gonzalez showed good sensibility in his greeting with the Boston press, immediately talking about his goal of helping the Red Sox topple the Yankees.

“It was very emotional and very up and down,” said Gonzalez. “But I’m very excited that everything was able to be worked out and I’m very excited to be here in Boston. And I’m ready to beat the Yanks.”

He’s also like to help the Red Sox raise some more of those banners — like the ones from 2004 and 2007.

“I’ve had five incredible years in San Diego. My dream as a kid was to play in the Major Leagues and be a Padre and my second dream was to be a Red Sox. So I’m very excited, God has been very, very good to me and I’m just very excited to start the season and look forward to a lot of world championships,” Gonzalez said.

“It was one of the things where you grow up and you always root for a National League team and an American League team and the Red Sox have always been the American League team that I rooted for and I think with Ted Williams and all those things and him being from San Diego and seeing what he did here, everyone knows he’s one of the greatest of all time, there’s always been a lot of connections between me and my heart and the Red Sox.”

Watching Gonzalez hit at Fenway figures to become a must-watch experience, much like Manny Ramirez during his prime years.

“He’s one of the very best hitters in the game, a left-handed hitter with a
tremendous ability to control the strike zone, hit, hit for power, has power to all fields. His natural stroke is probably to the opposite field which is a great fit for our ballpark,” said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. “He hits the ball the other way with ease, so we
think he’s going to wear the wall out. Just going from PETCO to Fenway Park should do wonders for his overall production, not that it needs any help. He likes the ball away from him a little bit. He’s a thinking man’s hitter who controls the at-bats and knows what he wants to do up there and goes up to the plate with a plan every time.

“Defensively, he’s a plus fielder with great hands, good feet around the bag, and he can really throw. He’s a playmaker on defense and has outstanding makeup. He’s a high-character person who leads by example and wants to win. That and he’s working on his speed, he said, this winter, so he can get a lot of doubles to left.”

By the way, Gonzalez did not have a number on his jersey during his unveiling, but Mike Cameron will give him 23 once some friendly high-stakes negotiations are complete.

“We’re in discussion,” laughed Cameron. “You know, I’m going to get something nice for Christmas.”

As for Red Sox manager Terry Francona, his early Christmas present is getting to pencil Gonzalez into his lineup every day.

“This is one of the best hitters in baseball,” Francona said in an interview with WEEI radio in Boston. “This is a big move for us. We’re getting a middle of the order bat, a guy that’s won a couple of Gold Gloves. He’s still young. This is exciting. We gave up some good players to get him, but that’s the only way you can get a guy of his caliber.”

Francona could sense how much Epstein wanted to make the deal happen.

“This was an important one,” Francona said. “I could tell that Theo was really digging his heels in on this one. And I’m glad he did because when he feels that strongly it’s got a chance to really be good for us.”

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