I told you in this space three weeks ago that Jose Reyes was coming to Buffalo and a few days later he was here, turning an otherwise routine June visit by the Durham Bulls into a glorious four days for the Bisons that resulted in their most clicking at the turnstiles for a single series since 2001.
Now my email box and Twitter feed are blowing up with this question: Are Derek Jeter and/or Alex Rodriguez coming to town next weekend with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders? My guess is don’t bet on it.
The Bisons just left Scranton Friday night, missing Jeterpalooza at PNC Field by one day. Jeter played his first Triple-A game since a one-game stint in Columbus in 1998 before a sellout crowd Saturday against Lehigh Valley.
Jeter has not played for the Yankees this season after breaking his ankle on Oct. 13 late in Game One of the ALCS against Detroit. After surgery, he was expected to be ready for the season and even played in five spring training games. But he dealt with pain in his foot and a new break was discovered in the ankle on April 18.
A-Rod, of course, has not played all year after hip surgery. He played two games at Class A Charleston (S.C.) and has been transferred to Class A Tampa in the Florida State League, so he’s clearly behind Jeter on Recovery Road.
If you’re thinking about either coming to Buffalo next weekend, for either Saturday night’s makeup doubleheader or Sunday afternoon’s finale before the Triple-A All-Star break, I should point out the Yankees rarely send rehab players on the road.
They like to have control over issues like field conditions, clubhouses, security (because autograph hounds are an issue) and arrangements for press conferences. They don’t have that if a game is not being played in a home of one of their affiliates.
One exception came earlier this year when Joba Chamberlain pitched for Scranton in Toledo but Chamberlain, of course, isn’t an A-lister like Jeter and A-Rod and the Yankees were in Cleveland at the same time so it was quick and easy for the team to watch Chamberlain and for him to rejoin the big club as well.
The reason this has become a big issue, however, is that Double-A Trenton is also on the road next weekend at New Britain. So there would be nowhere above Class A for Jeter and A-Rod to play. That does thicken the plot some and the Yankees did let Andy Pettitte pitch last year in Rochester, knowing it was a Triple-A facility that would have a big crowd with a good clubhouse and areas for the media. Coca-Cola Field certainly fits that bill as well.
The news that Jeter was starting his rehab in Triple-A was a surprise but he’s reportedly been running full speed in Florida for over a week and playing a lot of simulated games.
“Normally when we get these guys going in their rehab settings, you start them out slower,” GM Brian Cashman acknowledged Friday. “But he’s been getting so much live, simulated at-bats, that we’ve assessed he can jump into Scranton.”
“Anytime you’ve been out that long, there’s still some concern,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said prior to Saturday’s game in New York against Baltimore. “The good thing is it’s healed, and he went a lot further this time in a sense. He was running and he was playing in a simulated game, so I feel pretty good about the injury being healed. But we have to see how long it takes him to get into everyday playing shape.”
The Yankees haven’t ruled Jeter out of the final series prior to the All-Star break, a three-gamer against Minnesota that opens Friday in the Bronx. I think the goal is really the first series after the break – at Fenway Park against the Red Sox.
As for Bisons fans, you’ve already seen Reyes and Josh Johnson. I would expect in a couple weeks you’ll get a look at Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie.
Long days and nights
I couldn’t turn the TV off last week during the Mets-Diamondbacks series. One reason is because it seemed like it was always on.
The teams split four games that lasted 5 hours, 13 minutes, 2:24, 3:17 and 5:46. And if you think the two middle games were short, think again because they included rain delays of 1:41 and 1:51. The Mets won the opener in 13 innings on Andrew Brown’s two-run single in the bottom of the 13th and lost the finale in 15 after hitting tying homers in the 13th (Anthony Recker) and 14th (Kirk Nieuwenhuis).
Totals: 16 hours, 40 minutes of play, covering 46 innings with 3:32 of rain delays thrown in. Thursday’s 15-inning finale ended a stretch of 30 games in 30 days for the Mets that included three games in 24 hours in Atlanta and three games in three time zones in three days (Chicago to Denver to New York).
“I have been doing this longer than most of you are alive and I have never been through two weeks of more grueling baseball than we’ve just been through,” manager Terry Collins said after the finale against Arizona. “How some of those guys are still standing, I have no idea. But we certainly have to feel proud of the fact that we battled and we had chances.”
No San Francisco treat
The Giants entered Saturday in a 1-9 slump, with San Francisco shockingly falling into last place in the NL West less than nine months after winning its second World Series in three years. The Giants are 15-30 on the road – the worst record in the bigs – and returned home Friday night from a 1-8 road trip that included Homer Bailey’s no-hitter in Cincinnati, only to absorb a 10-2 thumping from the Dodgers.
“We’re getting tested,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Hopefully you get stronger when you’re tested. This is a strong group. When you go through a period like this, it’s been awhile, but you have to remember what they’ve done.”
The way teams are rolling in the NL Central, it looks like there will be no wild-card from the NL West. So it’s division title or bust.
Cup hits Wrigley
The Blackhawks Stanley Cup tour hit Wrigley Field this weekend with players Bryan Bickell, Brandon Bollig and Patrick Sharp taking batting practice Friday and the Cup itself taking the field Saturday.
“I think what the Blackhawks went through, we all got caught up in it,” said Cubs manager Dale Sveum. “I think a lot of times, no doubt, you sit back and you’re like a 10-year-old kid.”
Sveum said the frenzy surrounding the Blackhawks’ Game Six win in Boston had him wistfully thinking about a day when the Cubs would break what currently stands as a 105-year World Series drought.
“You do reflect on it, because when you win a championship, you wish everybody could have gone through it,” Sveum said. “There’s only one feeling in this world when you’re playing professional sports, and it’s that last pitch or when that buzzer goes off and you’re the world champion.”
Around the horn
• Big agreement from this corner to the words of Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon on MLB Network Radio about the All-Star candidacy of Dodgers outfield sensation Yasiel Puig: “To me, it’s an absolute joke. It’s really kind of stupid if you ask me. The guy’s got a month, I don’t even think he’s got a month in the big leagues. Just comparing him to this and that, and saying he’s going to make the All-Star team, that’s a joke to me.”
• Ageless Mariners left fielder Raul Ibanez, 41, entered the weekend with 21 homers and 49 RBIs. He has thus become the first 40-something in history with at least 20 homers and 40 RBIs prior to the All-Star break.
Ibanez has already tied Dave Winfield (1993 Twins) for the fifth most homers for a full year by a player 41 or over. The record is 29 by Ted Williams in 1960.
• Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera had 82 RBIs through June 30 – the most before July 1 in the majors since Carlos Delgado rolled up 89 in 2003.