Results tagged ‘ Joe Torre ’

Tex calls it a career as Yanks bow out of season

As it turned out, Mark Teixeira got his wish. When he hit a game-winning grand slam Wednesday night against the Red Sox, Tex said afterward that he hoped it would be the last home run of his career.

It was.

Plenty of Yankees fans would have hoped Texeira might launch one more drive into the seats Sunday in his last major-league game. Alas, it was not to be. Teixeira had three plate appearances and grounded out twice and flied out once before he came off the field to a standing ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd of 33,277 at the start of the seventh inning as Tyler Austin replaced him at first base.

The slugging for the Yankees in Sunday’s season finale was by Brian McCann, who led off the fourth inning with his 20th home run of the season. It was the ninth consecutive season of 20 or more homers for Mac and the 10th of his career, which made him the fourth catcher in big-league history with at least 10 20-homer seasons. The others are Hall of Famers Mike Pizza and Johnny Bench with 11 apiece and Yogi Berra with 10.

With Gary Sanchez also having goes deep 20 times, the Yankees became the third team in history to have two hitters who played at least half their games behind the plate to hit at least 20 home runs in the same season. The Yankees had Elston Howard and Johnny Blanchard with 21 each in 1961. The Milwaukee Braves had Joe Torre, later the Yankees manager, with 27 and Gene Oliver with 21 in 1965.

A catcher had the big game for the wild-card Orioles in their 5-3 victory. Matt Wieters socked a two-run home run off Yankees starter Luis Cessa in the fourth inning and greeted reliever Tommy Layne with another two-run blast in the sixth. It was the seventh career multi-homer game for the switch-hitting Wieters and the first from both sides of the plate.

Teixeira, who holds the major-league record for homering from each side of the plate in a game (15 times), finished the season with a .204 batting average within 15 home runs and 44 RBI. Tex was a .268 career hitter with the same total of hits as games played (1,862) with 409 homers and 1,298 runs batted in.

In a pregame ceremony, Teixeira was on the field with his wife, Leigh, and their children, Jack, Addy and Will, when he was presented with a framed No. 25 jersey commemorating his final game by Yankees managing general partners Hal Steinbrenner and Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal and Christina Steinbrenner, Hal’s wife. Tex also received a framed base signed by all of the 2016 Yankees that was presented by CC Sabathia and Brett Gardner, his last remaining teammates from the World Series championship team of 2009. Harlem RBI, the organization for which Teixeira donated $1 million and raised more than $10 million over the years, presented him with a signed thank-you card signed by hundreds of youngsters from Harlem and the Bronx who have benefit from his efforts on their behalf.

The Yankees’ fourth-place finish in the American League East this year was their lowest position since 1992, when they were fourth in the then seven-team AL East.

Set with Dodgers an inter-league interruption

The Yankees have worked hard to get back into the American League East and Wild Card races. The seven-game winning streak that ended Sunday with a 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay has the Yanks right on the tails of the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Orioles. And at the crucial moment in the schedule they will have an interruption.

That is one way to look at their upcoming series against the Dodgers starting Monday night at Yankee Stadium. When the leagues were divided into 15 clubs apiece three years ago, it necessitated inter-league play on a daily basis. The Yankees’ turn in the inter-league barrel has one last go-round this year, and that will be the next three days against the National League West first-place club. Surely, the Yankees would prefer to play the Dodgers in the World Series and not before.

I remember how Joe Torre once characterized inter-league play as if the games were akin to exhibitions because “the teams are not playing for the same prize,” which is position in their separate league standings.

At this point the Yankees sort of drift out of the way while the Rays go from here to Toronto and the Orioles and Red Sox pair up at Boston. Perhaps that will be beneficial to the Yanks with their AL East competitors beating each other up but only if they can handle the Dodgers.

Sunday’s loss dropped the Yankees four games behind first-place Boston in the AL East and two games back of Toronto and Baltimore for the second Wild Card berth in a tie with Detroit.

Considering that the Rays hit 10 home runs in the series they were bound to win at least one of the four games, which they finally did Sunday behind three home runs off Luis Cessa, who sustained his first major-league loss in five decisions. Of the 25 runs Cessa has allowed, 20 have come on the 13 home runs he has yielded.

The Yankees got a home run as well — Chase Headley’s 14th — but that was all against Tampa Bay starter Matt Andriese. The Yankees’ other run was unearned due to an error by Rays third baseman Evan Longoria in the seventh inning.

It was scored on a single by Brett Gardner, who had a terrific series (7-for-12, three runs, one double, one RBI, one stolen base). Gardner has multiple hits in each of his past four games with a plate appearance and is batting .563 in 16 at-bats over the stretch.

The Yankees got another impressive relief outing from Luis Severino, who pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings with three strikeouts. The righthander has not given up an earned run in seven relief appearances totaling 16 2/3 innings.

Former Yankees’ impressions of Alex Rodriguez

Views of Alex Rodriguez from those who were around him with the Yankees:

Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre, now Major League Baseball’s chief baseball officer: “Alex was a hard worker, a genuine fan of the game and possessed great ability. In our time together, I always knew that the game mattered to him. Baseball teaches all of us at some point, and I think he should be proud of the way he carried himself these last two years. I wish Alex and his family all the best in the future.”

Derek Jeter: “I’ve spent 22 years playing against, playing with and watching Alex from afar, and there are two things that stand out to me the most: the conversations we had when we were young — hoping for the opportunity to play at the Major League level and then somehow finding a way to stick around — and the championship we won together in 2009. That was a season everyone on that team can cherish. What people don’t realize is how much time, effort and work that Alex put in on a daily basis. He lives and breathes baseball. I know it will be difficult for him to not be on the field, but I’m sure he will continue to give back to the game. Congrats, Alex.”

Andy Pettitte: “I had a chance to see Alex as a young player in the league, and I knew immediately he was going to be special. It was always fun competing against Alex, but I really enjoyed having the opportunity to play side-by-side with him in New York. He was a big reason we were able to win the 2009 World Series. I wish Alex and his family nothing but the best moving forward.”

Jorge Posada: “Alex was not only one of the best players in the world, he was also one of the smartest players on the field. It was such a great combination. Please go have fun and enjoy your family — you are an awesome dad. I’m very proud of you.”

Mariano Rivera: “It was a privilege to play with Alex. Through his preparation and work ethic, you saw how much he cared about this game and about helping this team win. I love him — as a friend and as a teammate. He was all you could ask for in both.”

Robinson Cano, now with the Mariners: “He’s one of the best players who ever played. He’s a guy who worked hard. I’ve never seen a guy who worked harder than him. There are three things that I can say. He loves baseball, he’s a guy who works hard and a guy who loved to win. He was a great teammate. For me, he was one of the best teammates I’ve had and a guy who helped me when I first came up and I appreciate all of the things he has done for me.”

70th Yankees Old-Timers’ Day coming June 12

Five Hall of Famers will be among more than 40 former Yankees scheduled to attend the 70th annual Old-Timers’ Day Sunday, June 12, at Yankee Stadium. Fans are asked to be in their seats by 11:30 a.m. for the festivities with the traditional Old-Timers’ game to follow. All pregame celebrations will be aired exclusively on the YES Network. The Yankees will then play the Tigers at 2:05 p.m., also on YES. Gates will open to ticket-holding fans at 10 a.m.

The Old-Timers are headlined by Hall of Famers Whitey Ford, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson and Joe Torre. Former Yankees and current YES Network broadcasters David Cone, John Flaherty and Paul O’Neill will also be part of the pregame with program.

Three-time All-Star closer John Wetteland, who won the 1996 World Series Most Valuable Player Award with saves in all four of their victories toward their 23rd World Series title, will make his Old-Timers’ Day debut, alongside 1996 teammate Mariano Duncan, as well as Bubba Crosby and the oldest living former Yankees player, Eddie Robinson, 95.

Joining the Hall of Famers and former Yankees on the field will be the widows of five legendary Yankees—Arlene Howard, widow of Elston Howard; Helen Hunter, widow of Jim “Catfish” Hunter; Jill Martin, widow of Billy Martin; Diana Munson, widow of Thurman Munson; and Kay Murcer, widow of Bobby Murcer.

A complete list of Old Timers’ Day attendees:

Jesse Barfield, Brian Boehringer, Scott Bradley, Dr. Bobby Brown, Homer Bush, David Cone, Bubba Crosby, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, Mariano Duncan, John Flaherty, Whitey Ford, Oscar Gamble, Joe Girardi, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Arlene Howard (widow), Helen Hunter (widow), Reggie Jackson, Scott Kamieniecki, Pat Kelly, Don Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Jill Martin (widow), Hideki Matsui, Lee Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Stump Merrill, Gene “Stick” Michael, Gene Monahan (Trainer), Diana Munson (widow), Kay Murcer (widow), Jeff Nelson, Paul O’Neill, Joe Pepitone, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, Mickey Rivers, Eddie Robinson, Tanyon Sturtze, Ralph Terry, Marcus Thames, Joe Torre, John Wetteland, Roy White, Bernie Williams.

Let’s get it started

Enough with spring training already. Leave us get to the games that count, which starts Monday at Yankee Stadium with a rematch of last year’s American League wild card game opponents. The Yankees only hope the outcome will be different from the 3-0 setback they suffered last October against the Astros and modern-day Yankees killer Dallas Keuchel, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner.

For the 114th home opener in franchise history, the Yankees will open all gates and security check points at 11 a.m. Monday and strongly encourage ticketed fans to arrive early to avoid long lines and to enjoy the pre-game programming.

With crowds and security lines expected to increase closer to the 1:05 p.m. game time with Masahiro Tanaka on the mound, the Yankees recommend that ticketed fans arrive early and pre-register online to be eligible for expedited security checks that are available at Gate 2 and the Suite Entrance.

In accordance with a Major League Baseball mandate, additional enhanced security measures will be in place at all gates at the Stadium, and for the second year, the Yankees will offer expedited-access entry points through a partnership with CLEAR. Those registered in advance will be able to utilize Fast Access entryways for the quickest available entry into the building. In order to participate, fans must pre-register at https://sports.clearme.com/yankees. The Yankee Stadium CLEAR service is free.

Fans are invited to visit Monument Park, located in center field, and tour the New York Yankees Museum, presented by Bank of America. Each experience will open at 11 a.m. Monument Park remains accessible until 45 minutes prior to the scheduled game start time subject to capacity limitations. Please note the line to Monument Park may close earlier than the Park itself.

The Museum is located adjacent to Section 210 on the Main Level and tells baseball’s and the Yankees’ storied history through exhibits of historic artifacts. Admission is free for all ticketed guests. Current exhibits include: Five Great Teams: The 1927, 1939, 1961, 1977, and 1998 New York Yankees; Pinstripes in Bronze: Celebrating Monument Park’s Newest Honorees; The Skipper: Celebrating Joe Torre, Hall of Fame manager; and New Era Exhibit.

Fans may also watch the scheduled batting practice, which is scheduled to be ongoing throughout the early afternoon and ends at approximately 12:20 p.m.

The official pre-game ceremony will begin at approximately12:30 p.m. with the introduction of both teams on the baselines. As part of the Opening Day festivities, former Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui, the 2009 World Series Most Valuable Player, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. He will also be honored with the Pride of the Yankees Award at the 37th annual Homecoming Dinner following the game.

Matsui played seven seasons with the Yankees (2003-2009) and batted .292 with 140 home runs, 597 RBI and a .370 on-base percentage in 916 games and 3,348 at-bats. He played in two World Series (2003 and ’09) with the club, winning a championship in 2009 and was named MVP for hitting .615 with one double, three homers and eight RBI in 13 at-bats. Matsui also played three additional major league seasons with the Angels (2010), Athletics (2011) and Rays (2012).

Carmen Cusack, who is starring in the Broadway musical Bright Star, will perform the Star Spangled Banner as a giant American flag will be unfurled by 75 cadets from the United States Military Academy. The West Point Color Guard will present the colors. During the seventh-inning stretch, Michael Minarik, from Broadway’s Matilda The Musical, will perform “God Bless America.”

All those in attendance will also receive a Yankees magnetic schedule courtesy of AT&T.

Following Opening Day, the Yankees will play two additional games against Houston at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday and 4:05 p.m. Thursday. Ticket specials will run Wednesday (MasterCard $5/Military Personnel/Student Game) and Thursday (Military Personnel/Senior Citizen/Youth Game).

For a complete list of ticket specials, including game dates, seating locations, and terms and conditions, fans should visit http://www.yankees.com/ticketspecials. Please note that all ticket specials are subject to availability.

Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.yankees.com, http://www.yankeesbeisbol.com, at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Office, via Ticketmaster phone at 877-469-9849, Ticketmaster TTY at 800-943-4327 and at all ticket offices located within Yankees Clubhouse Shops. Tickets may also be purchased on Yankees Ticket Exchange at http://www.yankees.com/yte, the only official online resale marketplace for fans to purchase and resell tickets to Yankees games. Fans with questions may call 212-YANKEES [926-5337] or email tickets@yankees.com.

For information on parking and public transportation options to the Stadium, please visit http://www.yankees.com and click on the Yankee Stadium tab at the top of the page.

The Yankees recently announced the availability of mobile ticketing for the 2016 season. In addition to traditional hard stock paper tickets, the Yanks will offer fans the opportunity to receive mobile tickets on a fan’s Smartphone. Print-at-home paper tickets (PDFs) have been discontinued to further combat fraud and counterfeiting of tickets associated with print-at-home paper tickets (PDFs). For more information on mobile ticketing, visit http://www.yankees.com/mobile.

As part of MLB’s initiative to standardize security procedures at all 30 parks, ticket holders are required to be screened via metal detectors before entering Yankee Stadium. This procedure is a result of MLB’s continuing work with the Department of Homeland Security and is in addition to the bag-check policy in place throughout the league.

Metal detectors are located at all Stadium gates. Once ticket holders have been screened and have had their MLB-compliant bag and small personal handbag checked, they will have their tickets scanned. All Stadium gates are fully staffed and available for entry two hours prior to the game’s scheduled start time.

For security reasons, each ticket holders is permitted to bring into the Stadium only one MLB-compliant bag — presently defined by MLB as soft-sided and no larger than 16 inches by 16 inches by 8 inches — and only one smaller-sized soft-sided personal item (e.g., a handbag, clutch, tote or plastic grocery bag). All hard-sided bags and containers are strictly prohibited. All bags, personal items and their contents will be visually inspected before they are permitted into the Stadium. Bag-size bins will be used at entry inspection points to confirm the size of all bags and personal items, which must fit without assistance, modification or adjustment. There is no storage area for any items. To enable ticket holders to enter the Stadium in a more timely manner, the Yankees encourage them to remain aware of and comply with the bag policy, as well as consider carrying as little as possible. Please note security regulations may be amended at any time.

Pursuant to MLB requirements, all ticket holders, including children, must be screened. Infants and toddlers may be carried through the metal detectors; those children who are able to walk may be asked to walk through on their own. Those Guests who choose not to or who are unable to go through a walk-through metal detector have the option of being manually checked with a hand-held metal detector or a physical pat-down.

If a walk-through metal detector alerts a security officer to the presence of items that require further inspection, ticket holders will be directed to the side, where they will be screened via a hand-held metal detector or physical pat-down. When the items in question are discovered, fans will be asked to display them and/or allow a security officer to examine them. At this time, a security officer will determine whether or not these items will be permitted in Yankee Stadium.

Please note that the list of prohibited items at the Stadium includes (but is not limited to) laptops, firearms, knives or weapons of any kind, laser pens, glass, cans or aluminum bottles or thermoses, selfie-sticks, video cameras or other equipment designed for the sole purpose of video and/or audio recording, and hard-sided bags, such as briefcases. Please also note that there is no storage area for prohibited items. Ticket holders arriving by public transportation should take particular care not to bring any prohibited items, as no exceptions will be made. For a full list of prohibited items, please visit http://www.yankees.com and click on the Yankee Stadium tab at the top of the page.

Yanks go down fighting but definitely down

At least the Yankees went down fighting. Trailing by four runs in the top of the ninth inning, they loaded the bases with one out against Mets closer Jeurys Familia and had the sellout crowd of 43,602 at Citi Field pretty nervous. Familia recovered, however, and down the Yankees indeed did go.

The 5-1 loss smarted, and least of all because it came against the Mets. These Subway Series certainly draw the interest of the two New York teams’ fan bases, but as former Yankees manager Joe Torre used to point out at this juncture of the season they are not playing for the same prize, which is the downside of inter-league competition.

What hurt mostly is that the setback corresponded with the Blue Jays winning at home against the Red Sox so that the Yankees fell 4 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays in the American League East. Also, the Yanks were defeated with their ace on the mound, which could mean having Masahiro Tanaka make his next start Wednesday night at Toronto might be a waste of time. A lot can happen over the next four days that could convince manager Joe Girardi to give Tanaka extra rest so that he can be at his sharpest for the wild card game.

With 16 games remaining, it is far too early for the Yankees to concede the division title to Toronto and concentrate on making sure they are the home team in the wild card playoff. But the idea has to have crossed Girardi’s mind.

Tanaka started Friday night on regular rest so that he would be available to pitch in the Toronto series that follows the Subway Series. He pitched well, too, although he could not keep two balls in the yard that ruined his outing. Solo home runs by Lucas Duda off a high splitter in the second inning and Daniel Murphy on a wimpy slider in the sixth were the only real mistakes made all night by Tanaka, who has allowed 24 home runs in 149 innings.

The Yankees got a run in the first inning off Mets rookie Steven Matz on a sacrifice fly by Chris Young before the lefthander settled down and held the Yankees at bay through the sixth. That was Matz’s last inning and one that presented Girardi with a big decision.

With the score 1-1, the Yankees had runners on first and third and two out with 8-hole hitter Brendan Ryan due up and Tanaka in the on-deck circle. On the bench lurked Alex Rodriguez, rendered a bench warmer because the designated hitter is outlawed in the National League. That might have been the perfect time to let A-Rod try to break open the game as a pinch hitter, but Girardi did not think so.

The skipper’s thinking was that there was still an open base, even though it was second base, so Rodriguez could have been pitched around, perhaps even purposely walked and then Girardi would have to lift Tanaka for a pinch hitter. He liked the way his pitcher was throwing and did not want to chance that Rodriguez would be wasted in an at-bat in that circumstance. So he let Ryan hit or at least swing, which he did on the first pitch and grounded out to end the threat.

Murphy’s homer off Tanaka came in the bottom of that inning, and the Mets never looked back. Juan Uribe would have the big pinch-hit at-bat in the game for the Mets and drove an opposite-field, two-run home run to right off Chasen Shreve, who has been struggling of late (six earned runs in his past four innings).

Rodriguez did come up in the pinch, but it was when the Yanks were four runs behind in the ninth with a runner on second and one out. He, yep, walked, just as Girardi feared would happen earlier. A single by Jacoby Ellsbury off Familia’s shin filled the bases, but the Mets’ closer in a non-save situation retired Brett Gardner on a fly to left and struck out Chase Headley.

The NL East-leading Mets reduced their major number for clinching their first division title in nine years to eight, but this was a case of one New York team being hurt more by a loss than the other was fortified by a victory.

Yankees ‘Marching Through Georgia,’ baseball-style

Who would have thought Joe Torre was such a prophet back in 1996? The Yankees lost the first two games of the World Series to the Braves at Yankee Stadium, but the ever-cool Torre promised Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner he would bring the Series back to the Bronx by winning the three games at Atlanta.

“That is my town,” said Torre, who both played and managed for the Braves and lived in Atlanta for more than a decade. “We’ll win the games there and wrap up the Series in Game 6 here.”

Lord knows what Steinbrenner made of such a boast other than to respond, “You better!”

Thanks to the pitching of David Cone and Andy Pettitte, the hitting of Bernie Williams and Jim Leyritz and the fielding of sore-legged Paul O’Neill, the Yanks did precisely that by sweeping the Bravos in their own yard and capping off the Series with a victory at home over Hall of Fame-bound Greg Maddux in Game 6.

And the Yankees have not stopped winning in Atlanta ever since, including this weekend by completing a three-game sweep with a 20-6 battering of the Braves.

Chase Headley and Stephen Drew each homered and drove in four runs. Drew reached base in all six of his plate appearances with three singles and two walks to go with his 16th dinger that got his season batting average over .200 (.201).

Jacoby Ellsbury started the parade against Braves starter Julio Teheran with a three-run home run in the second inning after two were out. The Yankees made it 7-0 in the third with four more two-out runs on two-run home runs by Headley and Drew.

Nathan Eovaldi, who has benefit from abundant run support all season, was fine through five innings but gave up three straight hits at the start of the sixth. All three runners eventually scored as the Braves cut the deficit to 8-5.

The Yankees pulled away with a vengeance in a 27-minute top of the seventh as they sent 14 batters to the plate and scored nine runs. A bases-loaded single by Alex Rodriguez pinch hitting got the first two runs in, and the line just kept moving on RBI hits by Brett Gardner, Brian McCann, Greg Bird, Headley and Drew.

Three more runners crossed the plate in the eighth, one on a double by Branden Pinder, the first extra-base hit by a Yankees pitcher in six years. The Yankees finished with 21 hits with each spot in the batting order getting at least one hit and one run. At the top of the order Ellsbury and Gardner batted seven times apiece in a nine-inning game.

All those runs helped push Eovaldi’s record to 14-2, the best winning percentage (.875) for a starting pitcher this season. The righthander extended his unbeaten streak to 13 starts over which he is 9-0 with a 3.32 ERA in 78 2/3 innings.

McCann had a splendid homecoming to his former stomping grounds in batting .300 with one double, one home run and six RBI in 10 at-bats in the series. He walked five times and scored five runs. Didi Gregorius also had a big series by going 7-for-12 (.533) with a double, a homer and seven RBI.

So after dropping two of three games to Houston at Yankee Stadium in which they batted .165 with two extra-base hits and four runs (1.3 per game), the Yankees bashed away at a .365 clip with 19 extra-base hits and 38 runs (12.7 per game) against the Braves.

That is what playing in Atlanta can do for them.

The Yankees’ .857 all-time winning percentage at Turner Field based on a 12-2 record is their highest at any ballpark in club history (minimum two games played). They have an eight-game winning streak dating back to June 24, 2009 at the Ted, which is in its 19th and final season as the home of the Braves, who will move to the suburbs next year. The only longer winning streak by an opponent is a nine-gamer by the Phillies from June 6 to Sept. 18, 2008.

The Yankees have won all five road series at Turner Field (3-0 this year, 3-0 in 2012, 2-1 in 2009, 2-1 in 2000 and 2-0 in 1998). They scored at least six runs in nine of their 14 games at the Ted.

Including postseason play, the Yankees’ all-time record in Atlanta is 17-2 (.895), featuring a perfect 5-0 in World Series play. In addition to those victories Torre promised the Boss in 1996 in the last three games played at old Fulton County Stadium, the Yanks won both World Series games at Turner Field in their four-game sweep in 1999.

After what the Yankees saw of Braves pitching over the weekend, they can be sure there will be no World Series in Atlanta this year.

Too bad Pettitte was not warming up

What the Yankees needed on Andy Pettitte Day Sunday at Yankee Stadium was, well, Andy Pettitte.

Another nostalgic ceremony to retire Pettitte’s No. 46 and install a plaque in Monument Park honoring his pitching career with the Yankees was barely over when CC Sabathia gave up a two-run home run to Indians first baseman Carlos Santana in the first inning in what turned out an ominous day for the big lefthander.

There was no one warming up in the bullpen in the third inning when Sabathia had to come out of the game because of an injury to his surgical right knee. Yankees manager Joe Girardi had to rely on a couple of Scranton shuttle guys, Nick Rumbelow and Branden Pinder, to get through the middle innings.

A chant of “Andy Pettitte” from the bleachers sprung up several times from fans with fond memories of his grim determination on the mound over an 18-season major league career, all but three of them with the Yankees, that included an additional 276 1/3 innings of postseason work that produced a 19-11 record and four World Series championships.

“I just don’t remember ever going out there and feeling like I’m going to step on this mound and absolutely dominate this team because I am so good,” Pettitte told the crowd earlier. “I know some of the great players have felt like that. Every game at the big-league level, mentally, I had to be into it every pitch. It seemed like if I let my focus down for one inning, it was going to be a three-run inning. I needed every ounce of focus and energy to be successful.”

Andy Pettitte

Andy Pettitte

The Yankees had coaxed Pettitte out of retirement once before, in 2012. Too bad they could not do it again Sunday.

The only work for Pettitte Sunday was getting through a well-constructed speech in which he thanked his family, former teammates, the Steinbrenner family and even us writers, whom he said treated him fairly over the years.

Joining him on the field for the pregame ceremony were fellow Core Four partners Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Saturday’s honoree Jorge Posada as well as other former teammates Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, David Cone, Scott Brosius, Tino Martinez and Hideki Matsui; former trainer Gene Monahan; former executive Gene Michael; Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and former manager Joe Torre; managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and vice president Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal.

“We experienced some amazing wins, some heartbreaking losses,” Pettitte added. “Through it all, this place has become home to me and my family.”

Sabathia was supposed to be Pettitte’s successor as the senior voice on the pitching staff, but he has been slowed down by a knee that has been operated on twice and which was drained twice over the past two months. Sabathia admitted to Girardi that he felt discomfort while warming up but did not say anything until he was interrogated by his manager on the mound.

“It has been a watch for us all year long as we knew it would be,” Girardi said. “For him to say something on the mound it had to be pretty sore.”

Sabathia, who was to undergo an MRI exam late Sunday, has not been himself most of the season. He is 4-9 with a 5.27 ERA, and his record could be worse if the Yankees had not come back from trailing in games to get him off the hook eight times, including Sunday when they tied the score in the seventh inning on a two-run double by Carlos Beltran.

A comeback victory was not forthcoming, however, as Francisco Lindor finished off his second straight three-hit game with a solo home run off Dellin Betances in the eighth inning that held up for a 4-3 victory for the Indians, who were 5-2 against the Yankees this year.

It was almost as painful a game for the Stadium crowd of 46,945 to watch as it was for Sabathia. This was an absolute walkathon with Yankees pitchers combining for 10 walks (four by Sabathia) and the Indians for six. Despite all those free base runners the Yankees allowed, the score stayed close because the Tribe was 1-for-10 (.100) with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base, which would have been more if the Yanks had not turned four double plays.

Sabathia’s injury, which general manager Brian Cashman said would likely put him on the 15-day disabled list, botches plans the Yankees had of going to a six-man rotation with the return from the DL of Michael Pineda, who is scheduled to start Wednesday at the Stadium against the Astros.

The idea was to give an additional day of rest to all the starters, but that will have to go on hold for now. The Yankees could return Adam Warren to the rotation, but as well as he has pitched in relief they are reluctant to do that. The more likely choice for a sixth starter would be Bryan Mitchell, who was on the seven-day concussion list after being struck in the face by a batted ball Aug. 17. Cashman said Mitchell may pitch a simulated game this week.

All these pitching woes and the possibility the Yankees could drop out of first place put a damper on the special day for Pettitte, who might have been a big help had he been able to don a unifiorm.

Andy Pettitte’s Monument Park plaque

ANDREW EUGENE PETTITTE
NEW YORK YANKEES 1995-2003, 2007-2010, 2012-2013

A FIVE-TIME WORLD CHAMPION AND THREE-TIME ALL-STAR, PETTITTE WAS A MODEL OF CONSISTENCY IN THE YANKEES ROTATION FOR 15 SEASONS, GOING 219-127 (.633) AND TYING THE FRANCHISE RECORD OF 438 STARTS.

KNOWN FOR HAVING ONE OF BASEBALL’S BEST PICKOFF MOVES, PETTITTE WILL BE MOST REMEMBERED FOR HIS EXTENSIVE OCTOBER RÉSUMÉ, AS HE WENT 18-10 WITH A 3.76 ERA IN 40 POSTSEASON STARTS WITH THE CLUB. IN 2009, HE BECAME THE FIRST PITCHER TO START AND WIN
THE CLINCHING GAME IN EACH OF THREE SERIES IN A SINGLE POSTSEASON.

THE LEFTHANDER RETIRED WITH THE THIRD HIGHEST WIN TOTAL IN FRANCHISE HISTORY, AND HE IS THE CLUB’S ALL-TIME STRIKEOUT LEADER, WITH 2,020. TWICE A 20-GAME WINNER, PETTITTE FINISHED HIS CAREER AS THE FIRST PLAYER TO PITCH MORE THAN 15 SEASONS IN THE MAJORS WITHOUT EVER HAVING A LOSING RECORD.

DEDICATED BY THE NEW YORK YANKEES
AUGUST 23, 2015

Posada joins legends in Monument Park

During Saturday’s ceremony at Yankee Stadium for former All-Star catcher Jorge Posada, whose uniform No. 20 was retired and who received a plaque in Monument Park, I got a text from my son Corey, who was watching on television from his home on Long Island.

“Watching this makes me feel very old!”

Corey is only 33. If he thought he felt old, how about me? I met Posada at his first spring training camp with the Yankees 20 years ago. There is a photo in the office of my Queens apartment of me presenting the James P. Dawson Award to Posada as the outstanding rookie in training camp for 1997 before a spring training game at Tampa, the year before there was a major league franchise in that area.

And now there was Posada, still trim but his wavy black hair turning grey, standing behind a podium surrounded by former teammates, Yankees dignitaries and his family drinking in praise from a sellout crowd in the Bronx talking about a career that does not seem all that long ago.

One of the feelings that these celebrations at the Stadium convey is the passage of time. Posada was an integral part of a period in Yankees history that was indeed glorious and to people of Corey’s generation a dominant part of their personal scrapbook, the way previous generations venerated the careers of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Bobby Murcer, Thurman Munson, Ron Guidry and Don Mattingly.

“I can’t believe I’m standing up here right now,” Posada told the crowd. “And I can tell you, I’ve never been nervous on a baseball field. Being here seems surreal. I can honestly tell you, this is one of the happiest days of my life.”

His partners in the Core Four — Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, who will be honored Sunday — were in attendance as well as former teammates Bernie Williams, David Cone, Hideki Matsui and Paul O’Neill; former manager Joe Torre; former trainer Gene Monahan; former player, coach, manager and executive Gene Michael and general partner Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal.

Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams (NY Daily News photo).

Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams (NY Daily News photo).

Posada was truly moved at being considered part of the legacy of great Yankees catchers that began with Bill Dickey and continued through Berra, Elston Howard and Munson, whose widow, Diane, was also on the field. Posada kept a baseball card of Munson in his locker throughout his playing career.

“I never saw myself as part of that group,” Posada said. “Just a lot of respect for the guys. It’s just being there with them now is such a great honor. I’m never going to forget this day.”

Berra, hobbled by painful knees, was unable to attend but sent Posada a personal message that was displayed and narrated on the video board in center field.

“You were a really good ball player for a long time,” Berra wrote. “I’m proud of you, kid.”

Posada could not help but appreciate the irony that he had resisted at first the Yankees’ suggestion that he convert to catcher from second base, his natural position, while in the minor leagues in 1991. He recalled a conversation he had with Mark Newman, then the Yankees’ director of player personnel.

“He said, you have a great arm. You’re going to be very strong because your legs are very strong. You haven’t been catching, so you’re going to be very durable. Your knees are not [worn out]. They haven’t caught.’ And he said, ‘It’s the fastest way to get to the big leagues.’ When he said that, that was it. That was it for me. I wanted to get to the big leagues. That’s all I wanted.”

Posada went on to play 17 seasons behind the plate, all for the Yankees, and batted .273 with 275 home runs and 1,065 RBI. He was a five-time All-Star, won five Silver Slugger Awards and wore four World Series rings. Only twice did the Yankees fail to reach postseason play in Posada’s time. He played in 125 postseason games, including 29 in the World Series.

Posada evoked DiMaggio when he said, “Today, I must say I want to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee.”

He was all Georgie when he said, “Ever since I can remember, all I wanted to ever do was play baseball. Honestly, I didn’t have a Plan B.”

That was a break for all of us, no matter how old it made us feel Saturday.

Jorge Posada’s Plaque

JORGE RAFAEL DE POSADA VILLETA
NEW YORK YANKEES
1995 – 2011

A MEMBER OF FIVE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS AND A FIVE-TIME SILVER SLUGGER AWARD- WINNER, POSADA WAS A HOMEGROWN YANKEE, PLAYING ALL 17 OF HIS MAJOR LEAGUE SEASONS IN PINSTRIPES.

CONTINUING THE LEGACY OF GREAT YANKEES CATCHERS, HE APPEARED IN 1,829 CAREER GAMES, COMPILING A .273 BATTING AVERAGE, WITH 275 CAREER HOME RUNS, 1,065 RBI, AND A .374 ON-BASE PERCENTAGE.

THE FIVE-TIME ALL-STAR SET CAREER HIGHS WITH 30 HOME RUNS AND 101 RBI IN 2003, FINISHING THIRD IN AL MVP VOTING AND MATCHING YOGI BERRA’S SINGLE-SEASON RECORD FOR MOST HOME RUNS BY A YANKEES CATCHER.

IN 2007, POSADA HAD A HISTORIC SEASON, BATTING .338, WITH 20 HOME RUNS, 90 RBI, 42 DOUBLES, AND A .426 ON-BASE PERCENTAGE.

DEDICATED BY THE NEW YORK YANKEES
AUGUST 22, 2015

Big Unit enjoyed time in Big Apple

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Randy Johnson’s two seasons with the Yankees may not have been the finest hours of his remarkable career, but he has fond memories from his time in the Bronx.

Johnson was 34-19 with a 4.37 ERA combined for the Yankees in 2005 and ’06 but was roughed up in two American League Division Series starts (0-1, 6.92 ERA). To his credit, he did pitch with a shoulder ailment much of his second Yankees season when he had a 5.00 ERA.

“I still remember getting a phone call from George Steinbrenner welcoming me to play for the New York Yankees,” Johnson said in his induction speech Sunday at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. “I also enjoyed playing for Joe Torre.”

The former Yankees manager, who was elected to the Hall in 2014, was among 49 former Hall of Famers seated on the platform for the ceremony honoring Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio.

Johnson took note of another returning Hall of Famer, Reggie Jackson, when he said, “Look behind me and you can see the best who ever played this game. I had the honor of playing against many of these gentlemen. Some I watched on TV. But it would have have really been fun to face you, Reggie.”

I had a brief chat with Johnson over the weekend, and he told me that he had no regrets about his Yankees experience.

“I actually enjoyed it,” Johnson said. “I remember being able to sit in the dugout and talk pitching with Whitey Ford. How can you not love that?”

No sooner had the words come out of Johnson’s mouth, but Whitey and his wife, Joan, walked out onto the veranda of the Otesaga Hotel. That ended our conversation. The “Big Unit” went right over to the “Chairman of the Board” and spent the rest of the afternoon with him.

Craig Biggio, who grew up on Long Island and played college ball at Seton Hall, had kind words for Yogi Berra in his speech. Yogi was a coach with the Astros when Biggio broke into the majors in 1988 to begin a 20-season career, all in Houston, his adopted home town.

“Yogi was the smartest baseball man I ever knew,” Biggio said. “I know he is known for his Yogisms, but he had a solid knowledge of the game. When I was at Seton Hall, he and [then owner] John McMullen came to scout me. How many owners bring a Hall of Famer to watch some college kid play?”

Unfortunately, Yogi was unable to attend the ceremony.

I ran into Phil Niekro at the Saturday night reception in the Hall of Fame gallery, and he told me a story I had never heard before. On the last day of the 1985 season for the Yankees, Niekkro won his 300th game with a complete-game shutout of the Blue Jays in Toronto. The famed knuckleballer actually threw just one knuckler the whole game — the last pitch — and had the Jays off balance with an array of fastballs and changeups.

“We get back to Yankee Stadium after the flight from Toronto,” Niekro said, “and there in the players’ parking lot is a brand new, white Chrysler LeBaron convertible with a license plate reading ‘300WINS.’ I said to my teammates on the bus, ‘Hey, is there anyone else on this team that has 300 wins?’ It turned out to be a gift from George Steinbrenner. I was shocked. It was a good car, too. The problem was that I could not keep the license plate. It was stolen twice, once in Cleveland the year I played there and once in Atlanta when I went back to the Braves. But I loved that car.”