MOOSIC, Pa. — I’m spending the weekend in Yankees Country and at this point you really don’t utter the name of Alex Rodriguez around here. But now that Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis are back in the lineup, the one name people want to hear more of is Derek Jeter.
But don’t expect it anytime soon. Still trying to come back from the devastating Game One ankle injury that crushed the Bombers’ hopes in the ALCS last October against Detroit, manager Joe Girardi surprised observers Thursday in Seattle when he said that A-Rod, working out in Florida amid the swirl of the latest Biogenesis talk, is actually further along in his rehab than Jeter.
“We’ve said both of them after the All-Star break and Derek hasn’t really done any baseball activity yet,” Girardi said in pointing out A-Rod is ahead. “What is it, June 6? It seems like he is.”
Jeter is getting the ankle examined Monday in Charlotte, in hopes of being told he can increase his baseball activities. He joined A-Rod at the Yankees’ spring complex in Tampa last week.
“Can’t do anything different until I see the doctor, so absolutely no news,” Jeter said. “I wish I could do more, but I can’t until I go to the doctor.”
Said Girardi on A-Rod: “”He’s moving more side-to-side when it comes to ground balls, which is to me a good sign. For a long time there they were just right at him. But he’s moving more side-to-side, so obviously he’s feeling more comfortable.”
No one ever envisioned that an ankle injury in October would cost Jeter more than half the following season. But that’s what happens when you’re 38, and Jeter turns 39 (39!) on June 26. Rehab is tough and a second ankle fracture severely set back Jeter’s timetable.
Even with the injuries and their rotation troubles, you have to be impressed with the way the Yankees have held the fort in the AL East.
They entered the weekend in one of the AL wild-card slots, a far cry from all the doom and gloom of spring training.
When I spent a week in late March at Blue Jays camp in Dunedin, Fla., all you heard was talk about the 10 head-to-head games Toronto had with the Yankees by Memorial Day being a way for the Jays to bury the Yanks. Didn’t work out that way. The Yankees went 8-1 (with one game rained out) to deal the Jays a huge setback.
Next for WNY draftees
Friday was certainly a momentous day for Section VI baseball with the news that Clarence pitcher Mark Armstrong was drafted in the third round by the Reds and Amherst catcher Jonah Heim went in the fourth round, 25 picks later, to the Orioles.
Both indicated after the draft that they would be looking to sign pro contracts and get their careers going, so where might that take them?
Armstrong would head to Goodyear, Ariz., to the Reds’ complex and the site of their Arizona League team. Heim would go to the Orioles’ Gulf Coast League team in Sarasota, Fla. Looking into the future of Class A ball, the next step for Armstrong would the Billings (Mont.) Mustangs of the Pioneer League while for Heim it would be the Cal Ripken-owned Aberdeen (Md.) Ironbirds of the New York-Penn League. The Orioles director of minor-league operations is former Bisons manager and Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Brian Graham.
Armstrong said Reds scouts were at most of his starts and the Cincinnati media made sure to note how the “C” on his Clarence cap was a pretty interesting omen.
“He’s a big, physical guy with good stuff,” Reds senior director of amateur scouting Chris Buckley said. “He’s a Northeast guy, so he’s not quite really who he is yet. He was a three-sport athlete, so we’re obviously excited about how much he can grow.”
Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich, the former big-league outfielder, had similar praise for Heim when he met with Baltimore reporters Friday.
“Tremendous upside,” Rajsich said. “He’s a 17-year-old switch-hitting catcher with power, little bit of power from the right side. He’s got a plus arm and looks real comfortable behind the plate.”
Heim will have plenty of competition as Baltimore took three high school catchers in its first six picks and four catchers in its first 11.
Good news for Ortiz
The video of Blue Jays pitcher Ramon Ortiz last Sunday night in San Diego was agonizing. A simple pitch, a hanging arm, a point to the elbow and a crouch by the mound as the tears flowed over what looked for all time as the final pitch of a career.
The 40-year-old Ortiz has been a great soldier this year shuffling between Toronto and Buffalo and folks in both clubhouses were disturbed at the video. But the Blue Jays got some wonderfully unexpected news after an MRI – Ortiz does not have a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament.
“It shocked me,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He has been around a long time and he has been healthy. He has never experienced anything like that as far as I know of. He threw that one pitch, these guys all know when something goes wrong in there. Hopefully it’s something he can heal from.”
Kids Day downer
You have to feel bad for the Bisons, who got dealt a terrible weather hand by the no-hope rainout of Thursday’s annual School Kids game. It was the only bad weather day in the four-game series against Lehigh Valley and there was no chance to give the expected 10,000+ children in attendance a game.
The team spends months planning the annual game and it gives their final ticket counts a big boost having a five-figure crowd on a weekday afternoon in June. That’s now gone, although the numbers might get a boost if Jose Reyes and Brett Lawrie are able to do some rehab time here June 17-24 against Gwinnett and Durham.
Also gone are the reams of video and still pictures the team collects on the day to use in its promotional materials for the second half and even the next season.
The Bisons have already had six postponements at home this season, their most since 2009. They had just two last year. Meanwhile, Friday’s three MLB rainouts caused by Tropical Storm Andrea gave the majors a total of 29 for the season. There were just 22 in all of 2012.
I don’t bet and don’t recommend you do it either, especially with the daily unpredictability of baseball. But this one struck me as outrageous: According to RJ Bell, CEO of Las Vegas-based Pregame.com, if you started with $100 and let it ride while betting the Astros to win six straight last week on the road against the Angels and Rockies – as they did – you would have pocketed $83,400 on a payment of 834-1.
Speaking of the Astros, they entered Saturday 11-5 against the Angels and Mariners – and 11-35 against everybody else. They are 0-9 against Oakland.
Around the horn
• Mariners manager Eric Wedge on the 7-5, 16-inning loss to the White Sox Wednesday that was scoreless for 13 innings before both teams scored five runs in the 14th: “You don’t score any runs for 13 innings and then you score 10 in one inning? That’s baseball. So, when you talk about never being able to figure this game out, that’s a great example. We had so many opportunities and we just didn’t execute. But you’ve got to love the fight.”
• Absurd Miguel Cabrera numbers entering the weekend: The Tigers third baseman was batting .407 with runners on base, .500 with 54 RBIs with men in scoring position (36-72), and .593 in RISP situations with two out (16-27). He had 23 RBIs in those 27 at-bats.
• Ex-Bison Marco Scutaro of the Giants led the majors in May with a .420 batting average. He entered the weekend batting a team-best .323.
• We’ve had 11 one-hitters thrown this season – without a no-hitter. Bizarre. The 11 one-hitters are tied with 1989 for the most through June 5 of any season since 1913. The 11 one-hitters have averaged 9.5 strikeouts, topped by the 14 that Matt Harvey and Bobby Parnell combined for in the Mets’ 1-0, 10-inning win over the White Sox on May 7.