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News of the Day – 4/6/09

Today’s news is powered by an Opening Day Yankee Roll Call . . .

  • MLB.com reports on Ramiro Pena snagging the final roster spot:

Despite having not played above Double-A Trenton, Pena opened eyes in camp when Derek Jeter left the club for the World Baseball Classic, showcasing a slick glove and a developing bat. Pena batted .277 (18-for-65) with two doubles, a triple and seven RBIs in 30 Spring Training games for New York.

Alex Rodriguez’s progress in rehab after hip surgery is going so well that he could rejoin the New York Yankees by the end of April.

When Rodriguez underwent hip surgery on March 9, the initial prognosis was for him to miss six to nine weeks. That would have had him returning anywhere from the end of April to the middle of May.

Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long told the New York Post that Rodriguez has begun to hit and “feels 70 percent.” Long speaks with the third baseman daily, the Post reported.

Citing an unnamed team official, the Post also said it’s possible Rodriguez could be back on the field by late April if the Yankees were to support that.

  • Joe Sheehan, as part of his ranking of all the teams primarily by runs scored and allowed, puts the Yanks at #2 with a 95-67 record:

The age of this offense is a big concern, and it was even before Alex Rodriguez went down, reminding everyone of how Jorge Posada‘s shoulder changed the 2008 season. Six of the nine regulars are past-peak guys, giving the lineup a 2008 Tigers feel. There’s more depth on the pitching staff, and with A.J. Burnett not in a walk year, they’ll likely need it. The bullpen, which gets very little attention, is a huge strength for this team; the Yankees may win a number of games in which a starter gets knocked out just because their #11 and #12 guys are likely to be average pitchers. They’re DOA if Posada can’t catch 120 games, however. . . .

Derek Jeter has had a splendid career that includes four World Series titles, nine All-Star games, the 1996 Rookie of the Year award, the 2000 World Series MVP award, and six top-10 finishes in AL MVP voting, including a second-place showing in 2006 when many feel he should’ve won over Justin Morneau. He has scored at least 102 runs in every season in which he’s gotten 500 at-bats except for last year and has six seasons of more than 200 hits. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he has the highest personal winning percentage (.600) among active players who’ve played at least 1,000 games. Sometime in 2011 or 2012, he’ll likely get his 3,000th hit, making him a Hall of Fame automatic.

But he has come under mounting criticism – sometimes accompanied by a healthy dose of glee by the critics. His defense, in particular, has come under harsh scrutiny and as baseball executives and analysts seek to discover new ways to measure a player’s defensive ability, Jeter comes up short. One baseball executive called him “deficient” at the position right now. When he alternated starts with Jimmy Rollins – perhaps the finest defensive shortstop in the game – during the World Baseball Classic, the difference in the players was startling.

  • PeteAbe provides a good quote from 2nd year manager Joe Girardi:

I asked Joe Girardi if he felt better prepared for this season than he did at this time last year.

“Yes you do, because you know what it’s like to sit in that chair,” he said. “You know all the different things you have to address and handle and you know the personality of the players a lot better than you did the year before and what they’re capable of doing and what they need and what they won’t need. Just a year of understanding what the job entails.”

  • Andy Phillips turns 32 today.  Phillips was a corner infield sub for the Bombers from ’04 to ’07.
  • Ken Clay turns 55 today.  Clay was a swingman for the ’77-’79 Yanks, and was traded after the ’79 season for Gaylord Perry.
  • On this date in 1973, at Fenway Park, Ron Blomberg becomes the first designated hitter in major league history. In his first plate appearance, Blomberg walks with the bases loaded off Luis Tiant. He will end up with one hit in three at-bats as the Yankees lose to the Red Sox, 15 – 5.

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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1 SteveAmerica   ~  Apr 6, 2009 10:41 am

I think the "Jeter sucks" attitude of a lot of Yankee fans is worse than the "Jeter is God" attitude that was so prevalant for so long. Jeter is now underrated. And I predict that he's going to have a very very strong season.

2 Chyll Will   ~  Apr 6, 2009 11:06 am

I agree with the sentiment, but I'm not so much about the underrated. I don't think J-hova would get even this much bad attention if he weren't a special player to begin with. But then, it's only pronounced much more in Alex's absence and therefore filling a void in the local sports news hellhole.

That's why I would be chagrined to see Alex rush back at the end of April as opposed to taking the full compliment of days off as was originally subscribed. The only reason that this would be welcome to anyone outside of the team would be to jump-start the tabloids, providing the Yankees come out the box continuing their strong play.

Funny, I always mix up Ken Clay with Chuck Cary and Clay Parker, who were on the "NY Yuckees" teams of the early 90's...

3 Bama Yankee   ~  Apr 6, 2009 11:38 am

Happy Birthday and Roll Tide to my homeboy Andy Phillips...

4 benvolio   ~  Apr 6, 2009 1:42 pm

When Cody Ransom hit that home run off the foul pole that broke the tie the other night, well, I just knew we'd hear from Rodriguez. Of course he intends to come back in April! What if we get used to having a third baseman that actually hits clutch homers?!

5 PJ   ~  Apr 6, 2009 2:01 pm

"What if we get used to having a third baseman that actually hits clutch homers?!"

We'll see... Alex isn't going to just show up to YS2.0 and start at 3B batting cleanup without having faced live pitching in the minors first. At least I hope he's not...

If he does, I can only hope Ransom continues to play in the bottom of the order giving Cano, and Jeter some innings off regularly while they give Pena some reps late in blowout games as well. To my way of thinking, that would be the best way to keep everyone involved fresh and ready all the time.

Hopefully, Alex may even begin at DH against all the lefties it's now the rage to employ against the Yankees these days, giving Matsui a break before grabbing his glove too soon and trying to do too much... again...

6 JL25and3   ~  Apr 6, 2009 2:15 pm

[2] Ken Clay was the subject of one of George's very worst, most vindictive tirades:

''In horse racing we have what we call a morning glory. The horse works a great three or four furlongs in the morning workout and looks sensational. Then when the race comes, he starts sweating during the parade to the post and when he gets in the gate and the race starts he stinks the place out. He spits the bit.

''Kenny Clay is a morning glory. He spits the bit. He doesn't have the courage. That may be harsh, but that's the way I feel. He goes one good outing and three putrid ones. This was putrid. He looks great in the bullpen, but he gets on the mound and chokes.

''He was scared stiff out there. He's one of the biggest disappointments I've had since I've had the Yankees. He gets five runs, goes out and spits the bit, chokes. Word is around he doesn't have the guts. Give the guy the benefit of the doubt and he goes out and chokes like that.''

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