"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Dirt McGirt

I know I promised you all my campers post this week, but with the influx of juicy news items and it being Friday and all, before a three-day weekend no less, well, forgive me for taking the easy way out.

Did I say juicy? How about the Boss’s son-in-law and successor, who to some degree has already taken over the day-to-day operations of the team, being busted for a DUI.

How about Mikey Moose making mince meat out of Pavano’s “What Me Worry?” attitude toward returning to the team (quotes below the fold).

How about Kerry Wood taking a page out of Pavano’s book and missing the opening of camp because he slipped and fell out of a hot tub.

How about Barry Zito, San Francisco’s $126-millon man, showing up for Giants camp with a completely new delivery that pitching coach Dave Righetti thinks could ruin his famous curveball.

How about the BALCO testimony leak being identified.

Less juicy is the news that the Yankees will be wearing black armbands this season in memory of Cory Lidle. The Yankees last wore armbands in 2000 in memory of Catfish Hunter and Bob Lemon.

Speaking of uniform alterations, the ad wizards at MLB have tricked out the Yankees batting practice duds with white underarm stripes on the jerseys and these godawful caps complete with highly illogical ear piping. Last year the Yankees avoided this crap. It’s severely disappointing to see them infected this spring.

Even more problematic, Joe Torre has finally spoken to Bernie Williams and is encouraging him to come to camp. Torre told the media today that Bernie’s only chance of making the roster would be at the expense of the winner of the Phelps-Phillips battle, but that he’s not opposed to playing Mientkiewicz fulltime at first base. Curiously, he also indicated that he’s not going to rule out starting Giambi at first base until he gets a look at him this spring, which opens up the possibility of Giambi playing first and Melky Cabrera seeing a spike in playing time as Giambi and the three outfielders rotate through the DH spot. That would reduce Mientkiewicz to a backup role and clear room for Bernie in place of Phelps/Phillips. One other piece of relevant info from Torre’s chat was that while Philip Hughes is all but guaranteed to start the season in triple-A, his only chance of making the major league team would be as a member of the rotation. So much for my bullpen idea.

Finally, here’s a puff piece on Kyle Farnsworth in which he says all the right things and indicates a budding friendship with Andy Pettitte that I imagine would do the big guy a hill of good (pun intended).

* * *

The following quotes were compiled from the various reports of the Pavano and Mussina’s conversations with the media yesterday:

Pavano: “Joe obviously has his opinions on it. [On Wednesday, Torre said Pavano had “sizeable” work to do in the Yankee clubhouse.] I didn’t come in here nervous that my teammates are going to oust me or give me the cold shoulder. I have no control over that. I know that definitely there’s respect to be earned. Other things that were said, I think were just things that you guys [the media] are having a lot of fun with. It was more hyped up by you guys than anything else. Obviously, I’ve got to go out there and pitch. Other than that, I don’t think there’s really much left to do. I know a lot of these guys obviously are frustrated. I think it’s more of a compliment. They’re frustrated because they know I can help them, and I haven’t been able to do that.”

Moose: “He is only looking at it from his perspective. We’re looking at it from our perspective, those of us that have been through both years. We want him to go out there and show us that he wants to do this. I think once the whole team is here and it’s baseball season again, when we’re into the routine, maybe he’ll look at it differently. I don’t know how he’s going to be treated by everybody. It’s a situation that he needs to show a lot of people that he wants to go out there and pitch for us. If he shows us that, I think everything is going to be fine. I’m looking at it from the perspective of just the way each [injury] happened and the timing of it and just piecing all of those things together, the perspective that it showed. You get to form your own evaluation. It didn’t look good from a player’s and a teammate’s standpoint. It didn’t look good. Was everything just coincidence, over and over again? I don’t know. When one guy is out there playing the game despite whatever is going on, and somebody else is not, that’s how teammates get bad tastes in their mouths. It got to a point where we just didn’t want to even hear about it or talk about it anymore. As another starting pitcher who hasn’t been 100 percent the last two years, I know what it takes to go out and pitch. I know when you can’t go out there and pitch. Sometimes it’s a fine line. But I think after 15 years I know where the line is. Saying something [an apology] doesn’t mean much to me. He doesn’t have to say anything. Actions speak louder than words. I just want him to go out there and do what he’s supposed to be doing. If he takes the ball and goes out and pitches, and does the things he’s supposed to be doing, it’ll go away. It will go away. We’re all in this together. We want him to pitch and need him to pitch. Show us what you got.” Asked if he would give Pavano the benefit of the doubt, Mussina replied, “No, not just yet. Not yet, no. I want to see that he wants to do it.”

Here’s Joe Torre’s take on the situation from Peter Abraham’s tape recorder:

“We talked about it last year, last September or October, whenever the season ended. When he was in Tampa, we spent some time talking about the reason he was there to begin with at the end of the year, and what he had to look forward to this year. And he understands that, he understands that, you know. It may not be automatic, but I think over time, and when I say time [I mean] during spring training, I think he can gain that trust and respect back from the players that I know they wish they had the last couple of years. Because, you know, this game is all about everybody contributing, and it’s not the idea of what kind of year you’re gonna have, how many wins you’re gonna have, it’s just a matter of being there, and he hasn’t been there.” Asked if he thought simply going through the motions of spring training along side the other starters would help, Torre replied, “I think that’s a starting point. The best part about it is he’s doing everything everybody else is at the time they’re doing it, and, to me, that’s probably as good a place as any to start. But I think he understands that it’s a long spring. There’s a lot of responsibility that goes with being one of the starters here and all the attention that he’s obviously going to get every step of the way because of what’s happened the last couple of years. I think reversing [his clubhouse reputation] takes care of itself, just with his presence and his turn in line, so to speak. As long as he takes his turn, I think gradually, and hopefully by the time we’re going north, it’s not even an issue anymore.”

Which is to say, it definitely is an issue right now. Still, all three men seem to agree that all Pavano has to do is take the ball and pitch and all will be forgiven.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver