Results tagged ‘ Kelly Johnson ’

Jeter cannot provide dream ending

Those in the crowd of 43,201 at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night who waited long enough for what appeared at the time to be Derek Jeter’s possible last at-bat of the game were rewarded when the Captain beat out a slow roller to third base for a single with two out.

An even greater award came two pitches later as Brian McCann belted a 94-mph fastball from lefthander Andrew Miller, one of the hardest-throwing relief pitchers in the game, for a two-run home run that cut the Yankees’ deficit to 5-4. McCann, who had singled and scored in the sixth inning, had eight home runs in September, his most in a calendar month since July 2012 when he had nine.

It was not that long ago that the Yankees were down by four runs on scores of 4-0 and 5-1 to the Orioles, who used the long ball to build the large leads against Brandon McCarthy. His pitches were up for much of his 5 1/3 innings and he paid the price for that.

Kelly Johnson, Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz all took McCarthy deep. Johnson, who started the season with the Yankees and was dealt to Boston for Stephen Drew in July, got his first home run since joining the Orioles Aug. 30 leading off the second inning. Markakis added a two-run shot in the fourth. Cruz led off the next inning with his 40th home run, the most in the majors.

So instead of a sizable portion of the crowd heading for the exits after getting one last glance at Jeter the house remained full with the improved prospects of a Yankees comeback and a hope that the Captain might get one more time at the plate.

Someone needed to get on base in the ninth for that to happen because Jeter was the fourth scheduled batter that inning. Brett Gardner provided the opportunity for DJ with a two-out single over the mound against lefthander Zach Britton, the Baltimore closer.

With the crowd chanting “Der-ek Je-ter,” the Captain had his chance to be a hero, but this would not be a Hollywood ending. Britton struck Jeter out on three pitches.

One night after scratching out only one hit against the Yankees, the Orioles banged out 17 hits, including four by Markakis and three apiece by Cruz, Johnson and Nick Hundley. Yet only one of their hits came with a runner in scoring position in seven at-bats as Baltimore stranded 11 base runners.

The Yankees did not do well in that category, either, with eight hitless at-bats in the clutch. Yankees pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts (eight by McCarthy, two by Dellin Betances and one by David Robertson) to set a season franchise record of 1,319, one more than the previous mark of 2012.

With the Royals winning in Cleveland, the Yankees remained five games back in the wild card hunt and failed to take advantage of the Mariners losing at Toronto. Only five games remain in the regular season for the Yankees, and they are down to this: they must win every game and hope clubs ahead of them stumble.

Playoff hopes dampen after Baltimore weekend

The Yankees got a taste of their own recent medicine over the weekend in Baltimore where their post-season hopes grew grimmer after losing three of four games to an Orioles team that has its magic number for clinching the American League East title to three. The Yankees’ last gasping hope for a trip to the playoffs lay in the second wild-card slot, and they are five games back with 14 games to play.

The Yankees started the series at Camden Yards trip on a high from consecutive comeback victories over Tampa Bay at Yankee Stadium in which they obliterated 4-0 deficits. Chris Young, who made huge contributions to both those victories, was in position to be the hero again Friday in the afternoon game of a day/night doubleheader when he homered with two outs in the 11th inning to break a scoreless tie.

Adam Warren, pitching the bottom of the 11th because closer David Robertson had already pitched 1 2/3 innings of relief, couldn’t hold the Orioles down, however, and lost the game on a bases-loaded, two-out double by pinch hitter Jimmy Paredes. The Yankees then got shut out, 5-0, on four hits in the night game, which took away any sense of momentum they had from the Rays series.

Saturday’s 4-3 victory behind Shane Greene and four relievers was a brief reprieve, but the fact that the Yankees had no runs and one hit in the eight innings other than their three-run second that included a home run by Brian McCann and a steal of home by Young was emblematic of the offensive struggles that would continue in the series.

Sunday night’s game resembled the day-game loss Friday in that the Yankees took a one-run lead in the last inning and then gave up two runs in the bottom half for another walk-off loss, their eighth of the season. McCann’s second home run of the series and 20th of the season put the Yanks up, 2-1, in the top of the ninth.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided to bring in Robertson for the third straight day instead of staying with Dellin Betances, who had pitched a shutout eighth with two strikeouts. That gave him 130 for the season, tying Mariano Rivera’s 1996 franchise mark for K’s by a relief pitcher.

I do not fault Girardi’s judgment here. Robertson is his closer. The manager has been careful with his relievers all year so they would be strong in September where they are needed most. Robertson’s stuff was up all inning. The Orioles quickly tied the score on successive doubles by Nelson Cruz and Steve Pearce. One out later, Kelly Johnson, of all people, drove in the winner with another double. Johnson batted .219 in 77 games and 201 at-bats for the Yankees this year before he was traded to the Red Sox July 31 for Stephen Drew, who is hitting .135 in 104 at-bats for the Yankees. The Orioles acquired Johnson in an Aug. 30 deal with Boston. Playing for his third AL East team this season, Johnson finally ended up in first place.

The crushing loss obscured a very good outing by Hiroki Kuroda, who gave up one run and six hits with no walks and five strikeouts in seven innings. Once again, Yankees pitching was not the main problem despite the two bullpen leaks.

The Yankees batted .172 and slugged .261 as a team in the series in which they totaled six runs in 38 innings. They were 2-for-20 (.100) with runners in scoring position. Jacoby Ellsbury was 2-for-17, Mark Teixeira 1-for-11, Brett Gardner 1-for-10 and Derek Jeter 0-for-11. The Captain’s slump goes beyond this series; he is hitless in his past 24 at-bats as his average has sunk to .250.

To make matters worse, the Sunday Night Baseball date means the Yankees will arrive in St. Petersburg, Fla., in the wee hours of the morning Monday where that night they open a three-game set against the Rays at Tropicana Field. The playoff outlook is equally as bleary.

Yankees acquire Headley from Padres

As to the question that has been floating around as the July 31 trade deadline nears of whether the Yankees will be buyers or sellers, it was answered by general manager Brian Cashman Tuesday with the acquisition of third baseman Chase Headley from the Padres for infielder Yangervis Solarte, Class A Tampa pitcher Rafael De Paula and cash.

Let’s not carried away. Headley is no savior. Two years ago, the switch hitter, 30, finished fifth in the voting for the National League Most Valuable Player Award after leading the league in RBI with 115 and batting .286 with 31 home runs. He slipped to .250 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI a year ago, and this season has been plagued by back problems while hitting .229 with seven homers and 32 RBI.

Headley can be a free agent at season’s end, so he is in essence a rental player and one who has plenty of incentive to have a big finish and put up the kind of offensive numbers that will make him attractive in the open market over the winter and perhaps give the Yankees a lift in their pursuit of a postseason berth, preferably as the American League East division winner.

The Yankees’ signing of Solarte to a minor-league deal figured into this trade. They took a flier on an eight-year minor leaguer, who worked hard to make the team as a utility player and had a delirious six-week run early on that made him a feel-good story at the time and a valuable bargaining chip in trade negotiations.

Solarte, 27, batted .254 with 26 runs, 14 doubles, six home runs and 31 RBI in 75 games and 252 at-bats with the Yankees. He also played in five games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and hit .600 with three doubles, one triple and five RBI in 20 at-bats.

De Paula, 23, was 6-5 with a 4.15 ERA in 20 games (17 starts) covering 89 innings for Tampa. He was originally signed by the Yankees as a minor-league free agent Nov. 18, 2010.

Headley was en route to New York from Chicago but was not expected at Yankee Stadium by game time. Kelly Johnson, who has shared third base with Solarte and Zelous Wheeler this year, found himself in right field for the first time as a major leaguer. With Mark Teixeira unavailable because of a left lat strain, Brian McCann started at first base with Francisco Cervelli behind the plate.

Tough night for Gr-EEE-ne

Watching Shane Greene on the mound Monday night made one wonder how much PFP is done in the minor leagues. PFP stands for pitchers’ fielding practice, an exercise dreaded by hurlers, especially during the heat of spring training.

It is pretty boring stuff, too, but there are times when pitchers are reminded why fielding their position is important. Greene, who has done a terrific job since his recall from Triple A Scranton, had a rough time of it in the third and fourth innings and was charged with three errors. That’s three Es for a guy with three of them in his last name.

Two of the misplays came in the second inning, but he escaped without damage. Greene dropped a feed from first baseman Kelly Johnson that allowed Leonys Martin to reach first base. With two out, Greene fielding a pepper shot by Jim Adduci , but his under-handed toss sailed over Johnson’s head. That put runners on second and third, but Greene redeemed himself by striking out Geovanny Soto.

An error cost the Yankees a run in the third, but this one was by Brian Roberts. With runners on first and third with one out, the second baseman dropped shortstop Derek Jeter’s throw that might have started a double play but instead allowed the runner from third to score. Again, Greene got a strikeout to minimize the damage and end the inning.

With two out in the fourth, Greene was at it again throwing to first base as if 6-foot-8 Dellin Betances was the fielder there. Greene fielded a dribbler by Soto and threw another sailer well out of Johnson’s reach. When Rougned Odor hit a tapper to the mound, the crowd roared its approval when Greene ran toward first base and made an accurate toss to Johnson for the final out.

It took five innings for the Yankees’ hits to catch up with their errors. Jacoby Ellsbury’s eighth home run of the season, a solo shot leading off the fourth against Texas starter Miles Mikolas, was only the Yankees’ second hit. They got to four to match their errors with singles by Francisco Cervelli and Zelous Wheeler. A walk to Brett Gardner loaded the bases, but Jeter grounded into a double play.

If many of those Rangers names seem strange, well, that is because so many of their regulars are injured. Texas has already had 51 different players, including 30 pitchers, on its roster this year. Both figures are records for prior to the All-Star break. The Rangers have sunk to the bottom of the American League West by losing 24 of their previous 28 games.

Rest may have done Yanks a lot of good

It is beginning to look like the All-Star break was just what the Yankees needed. They certain appear rejuvenated after the four-day break. Derek Jeter, Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Betances were the Yankees’ representatives in Minneapolis, but only Jeter played in the game. Tanaka, on the disabled list, chose not to go, and Betances was stuck in the bullpen, yet that, too, might have been a blessing.

The rest of the Yankees got some needed R&R and have come back with a determination to make a strong run for the American League East title.

Saturday, the Yankees took up from where they left off Friday night with first-year players making significant contributions in a 7-1 victory over the Reds and All-Star pitcher Alfredo Simon.

Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, who drove in key runs Friday night, were back in the mix Saturday. Beltran had two more hits, including his 10th home run of the season. McCann started a three-run rally in the sixth inning with an against-the-shift, infield single.

At the bottom of the order, Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson combined for four hits, four runs and two RBI. In addition to his two singles, Roberts reached base on an error by right fielder Jay Bruce, who dropped a routine fly ball in the third inning that led to a gift run on a single by Brett Gardner.

Roberts left off the fifth with a single. Johnson followed with a single, and both runners advanced on a passed ball by Devin Mesoraco. A sacrifice fly by Gardner, who had three RBI in the game, and an RBI single by Jeter pushed the Yanks’ lead to 4-1.

“We took advantages of their miscues,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We moved runners over. We got the big hits. We had good at-bats. We were very fundamentally sound.”

Among the more recent newcomers is winning pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who is off to a terrific start with the Yankees after a not very terrific first half with the Diamondbacks. Acquired July 6 from Arizona in a trade for lefthander Vidal Nuno, McCarthy has had a quality start in each of his first two appearances for the Yankees.

The righthander provided a strong six innings Saturday in allowing one run on a home run by Chris Heisey, five other hits and no walks with nine strikeouts. Known as a sinkerballer, McCarthy had more of a power sinker Saturday as the strikeouts total attests. He also got seven of his other nine outs in the infield, six on ground balls.

This was the McCarthy the Yankees envisioned when they made the trade. Yankees fans might have scoffed when they saw that McCarthy was 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA in 109 2/3 innings for the Diamondbacks, but with the Yanks he is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA, one walk and 12 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings.

McCarthy credited McCann, his catcher, with guiding him through the game by using his cut fastball as well as the sinker on a day when his curve was not particularly sharp.

“My curve was nothing special, but all three fastballs were there,” McCarthy said. “I had gotten away from throwing the cutter with Arizona. Here they want me to keep the cutter in play to set up hitters in a different way. It’s hard to keep major-league hitters off balance with just one pitch.”

Coming to the Yankees marks a new beginning for McCarthy coming off from a club that was in last place in the National League West.

“A situation like that can energize and motivate players,” Girardi said.

“It’s energizing in itself just to be in a division race,” McCarthy said.

The Yankees’ play post the All-Star break promises they could be in the race to stay.

Weird inning hurts Kuroda, Yanks back at .500

On the mound at Camden Yards for the Yankees Friday night was the last survivor of their Opening Day rotation, and he gave them what they desperately needed from a starting pitcher — length.

Hiroki Kuroda is still part of the starting unit while former mates Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka have all gone off to the disabled list, some of whom not to return in 2014.

The Yankees departed Cleveland with a fatigued bullpen, so the seven innings Kuroda gave them was heaven sent. Only one of those innings was a clinker, but that was enough to let the Orioles tie the score.

It was a strange fourth inning for Kuroda, who blew the 2-0 lead provided by solo home runs from Brian Roberts in the second and Kelly Johnson in the third off Miguel Gonzalez, who recovered to hold the Yankees scoreless with only three more hits through the eighth.

Kuroda gave up only one hit in the fourth, a bad-hop single past Derek Jeter by Adam Jones, which came after the righthander hit Steve Pearce with a pitch leading off the inning. Kuroda then uncorked two wild pitches, one that advanced the runners and another one out later that send Pearce home. A sacrifice fly by Chris Davis tied the score.

The score stayed that way until the 10th inning when Orioles catcher Nick Hundley lined a single to center field off Adam Warren to score Manny Machado, who had led off the inning with a double. Warren followed Dellin Betances, who was brilliant once again with two hitless innings featuring three more strikeouts. The rookie All-Star’s 84 punchouts are the most for any reliever in the majors.

The Yankees’ offense sputtered as it managed only one hit over the last six innings. The Orioles’ 3-2 victory pushed the third-place Yankees five games behind first-place Baltimore in the American League East as they fell back to .500 at 46-46.

That the game went into extra innings was not what the Yankees wanted by any means, not just two nights after playing 14 innings in Cleveland. It was the Yankees’ fourth extra-inning game in their past 11 games, which is why the relief squad is so weary.

The Yankees added some pitching Friday by recalling Matt Daley from Triple A Scranton and designating Jim Miller for assignment. They also acquired Jeff Francis from Oakland for cash and a player to be named, but the lefthander was not expected to join the team until Saturday. He could be a candidate to start Sunday night in the opening created by Tanaka’s assignment to the DL because of a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Francis, 33, is 70-80 with a 4.95 ERA in a career covering 238 appearances (217 starts) with the Rockies, (2004-10, ’12-13), Royals (2011), Reds (2014) and Athletics (2014). This season he is a combined 0-2 with a 5.89 ERA in 10 appearances (one start) with the Reds and A’s. He last pitched July 2 for Oakland in a 9-3 loss at Detroit.

Girardi awarded for sticking with Nuno

It would not have surprised anyone if Yankees manager Joe Girardi used Thursday’s open date to skip over Vidal Nuno in the rotation. The lefthander has struggled over the past six weeks as an emergency starter in the Yankees’ injury-riddled rotation. With Thursday’s open date, the Yanks’ first off day in 24 days, Girardi could have sat down Nuno and kept the rest of the rotation on schedule.

Fans of Masahiro Tanaka would not have minded that, either, because by starting Friday night the Japanese righthander would have put himself in position to pitch in the All-Star Game. As it is now, while he may be named to the American League squad Tanaka is doubtful to be able to pitch in the July 15 All-Star Game at Minneapolis’ Target Field because barring rainouts his final start before the break would be Sunday, July 13, at Baltimore.

Despite fielding many questions about Nuno’s place in the starting unit, Girardi reiterated that his rotation will have no change, at least not for now. So Nuno took the mound Friday night against the Red Sox in the opener of a three-game series in front of a full-house crowd of 48,522 at Yankee Stadium and came up with his best start of the season.

Nuno pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed two hits and two walks with five strikeouts to earn his first winning decision in nine starts since May 7 and end a personal four-game losing streak. As recently as two starts ago at Oakland, Nuno was pounded for eight earned runs in three innings as his ERA skied to 5.90. He dropped it to 5.42 Friday night with all the zeroes he put up on the scoreboard.

There is still much room for improvement for Nuno, but this was a positive start toward that end. He limited the defending World Series champions to a single by Jonny Gomes in the second and a double by Brock Holt in the third. When he walked David Ortiz with two out in the sixth, Nuno was replaced by Dellin Betances, who along with Adam Warren and Matt Thornton preserved the shutout.

Mark Teixeira gave Nuno a 1-0 lead in the first inning against righthander Brandon Workman on a sacrifice fly. The Yankees broke open the game in fourth with a pair of home runs, a two-run blast by Kelly Johnson and a solo shot by Brett Gardner back-to-back. They pushed the score to 6-0 with another homer in the eighth, a two-run bomb into the second deck in right field by Brian McCann off lefthander Craig Breslow.

It was a great way to start the weekend. And by not toying with the rotation, Girardi created a dream matchup Saturday night at the Stadium with Tanaka opposing Jon Lester.

Jays a different club away from Stadium

What a difference a venue makes. Last week at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees swept a three-game series from the first-place Blue Jays that let Toronto know it was not going to run away and hide in the American League East. That sweep ran to 16 games the Yankees’ winning streak at home against the Jays.

The return engagement at Rogers Centre was a different story, at least for Monday night’s series opener. The Blue Jays struck early and often in their own building to end Chase Whitley’s good luck charm on the road with an 8-3 victory.

The Yankees had been 5-0 in road games started by Whitley, the Triple A call-up who has done a splendid job in plugging up one of the holes in the injury-riddled rotation. The Alabama righthander did not have it this night, however, as Toronto burst out to a 7-0 lead after two innings. That marked as many runs as Whitley allowed over his four previous starts combined covering 24 2/3 innings.

Melky Cabrera, who has tormented his former teammates since he left after the 2009 season, got the ball rolling for the Jays with a one-out double in the first inning. Adam Lind, batting in the 3-hole with Jose Bautista out because of hamstring problems, knocked in Cabrera with a single.

Lind did quite a bit more damage in the six-run Toronto second inning. The Jays loaded the bases with none out on three straight singles. A fielder’s choice and an RBI single by Cabrera made the score 3-0 before Lind broke the game open with a three-run home run over the center field wall.

Cabrera extended his hitting streak against the Yankees to 20 games. During the stretch, he has batted .349 with seven doubles, one triple and one home run in 83 at-bats. Melky has reached base safely in all 22 career games against his former club. The last player with a 20-game hitting streak against the Yankees was also named Cabrera, the Tigers’ Miguel (no relation) from 2006-10.

Whitley, who had walked only four batters in his seven prior starts totaling 38 2/3 innings, walked the first two guys up in the fourth and appeared gassed. Dioner Navarro singled to drive in the Blue Jays’ eighth run, which forced manager Joe Girardi to go to the bullpen.

The relief work of David Huff and Shawn Kelley were bright spots for the Yankees. Huff pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed one hit and two walks with three strikeouts and a wild pitch. Kelley struck out the side in the eighth and gave up one hit.

It was the first poor outing for Whitley, who was charged with eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings as his ERA hiked from 2.56 to 4.07. The righthander allowed 11 hits and three walks with one strikeout and one wild pitch.

Marcus Stroman, who could not get through the fourth inning last week at the Stadium, pitched a solid eight for the Blue Jays this time. The righthander from Long Island gave up one run on Mark Teixeira’s 13th homer and only two other hits, singles by Brendan Ryan and Ichiro Suzuki, and had seven strikeouts.

Considering the state of the Yankees’ offense these days, the hole Whitley put his team in was too great out of which for his teammates to climb. The Yankees did score a couple of runs in the ninth off Chad Jenkins. Yangervis Solarte, who entered the game in the eighth, stopped a 0-for-28 slump with an RBI single, and Kelly Johnson doubled in a run.

Those were the Yankees’ only runs other than the two from a pair of homers by Teixeira over the past 27 innings for the Yankees, who fell 2 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays, a sign that they were no longer at Yankee Stadium.

Offense runs dry against Orioles

Sunday was one of those rare Old-Timers’ Days when the game between the team’s former stars is more pleasant than the real game. The Yankees put a damper on a fun-filled weekend with full houses at Yankee Stadium Saturday and Sunday with losses to the Orioles both days.

They followed an uplifting comeback victory Friday night on Carlos Beltran’s three-run home run. That was the last real burst of offense for the Yankees, who scored one run over the final 18 innings of the series.

“Going 4-2 against your division rivals in one week is pretty good,” manager Joe Girardi said, “but it’s also disappointing because we were 4-0 at one time.”

Friday night’s victory followed a three-game sweep of the first-place Blue Jays that tightened up the American League East standings. They stiffened even more Sunday. The Yankees and the Orioles are tied for second place, 1 1/2 games behind the Jays. All three clubs are even in the loss column.

Baltimore’s 8-0 victory was all the more shocking because Masahiro Tanaka started the game for the Yankees. He was credited with another quality start for having allowed three earned runs in seven innings with six hits, a walk and six strikeouts, but since the Yankees could not score the effort went for naught as his record went to 11-2 and ended a personal five-game winning streak.

Perhaps the game might have gone differently had Brett Gardner not been thrown out at third base trying for a triple leading off the first inning. He slid past the bag and was tagged out by Manny Machado, who kept his glove on Gardy’s leg while his hand came off the base following a head-first slide.

Then again, maybe not. The Yankees got only three more hits in the game while the Orioles kept pounding away. They hit four home runs Saturday and added two more Sunday. Jonathan Schoop took Tanaka deep in the second. Catcher Jacob Joseph added his first career homer in the ninth off David Huff.

Tanaka gave up two more runs in the seventh without the ball leaving the yard. Adam Warren was tagged for four runs in the eighth, an unsightly inning for the Yankees that included two errors.

One was a wild throw by third baseman Kelly Johnson that was excusable under the circumstance. With runners on first and second and none out, Nelson Cruz hit a chopper to Johnson, who stepped on third and then threw the ball into the first base stands while Steve Pearce running from second to third slid in front of him.

Pearce appeared to have run out of the baseline and should have been called for interference. That was Girardi’s argument, too. He was told, however, that Pearce was still in the proximity of third base. Well, judging from my view Pearce must have the wing span of a 747 jetliner to have had his right hand anywhere near third base on that play.

Didn’t matter; the play was not renewable and stayed. “You don’t need to review it,” Girardi said. “You just need to call it. It was a dangerous slide. If it happens at second base or first base it gets called.”

The game soon went out of hand when J.J. Hardy cleared the bases with a double. The bottom of the eighth didn’t go well for the Yankees, either. Mark Teixeira, who accounted for the Yanks’ only run of the past two games with his 12th homer Saturday, was hit in the left foot with a pitch and came out of the game. X-rays were negative, however, and Tex was relieved after the game.

Nevertheless, the good feeling the Yankees derived from their climbing up Toronto’s back was negated somewhat by Baltimore doing the same to them. This is a division race up for grabs.

HOPE Week: Mother’s major helper

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The concluding event of the Yankees’ HOPE Week 2014 (Helping Others Persevere and Excel) Friday brought pitchers CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Dellin Betances and Jose Ramirez; infielders Mark Teixeira, Kelly Johnson, Brendan Ryan and Yangervis Solarte and catcher Brian McCann to St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, N.J., for a surprise lunch for Quai Jefferson, and his mother, Vaida.

The group was joined by notable St. Joseph alumni John Flaherty, the former Yankees catcher and current YES Network broadcaster, and NFL players Jason McCourty of the Tennessee Titans and Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots, who are twin brothers. Select members of the St. Joseph Regional faculty who have had a profound influence on Quai’s life also attended. Later in the evening, Quai and Vaida and their family and friends were guests of the Yankees for their game against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium.

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CC Sabathia and Quai Jefferson

Now a freshman at the University of Delaware, Quai Jefferson was only six years old when his mother, Vaida, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 11 years ago. By the time he was 10, Quai was running the household, cooking and doing laundry. Nurses taught him to check Vaida’s blood pressure and inject her twice a day with Copaxone, a drug which eases the effects of MS.

Now 18, Quai (pronounced Kway) graduated from St. Joseph Regional where he was on the honor roll and a two-sport varsity athlete in football and basketball. At Delaware, Quai will play football and major in business administration with an emphasis in accounting or marketing.

“He has taken on a parent’s responsibility,” Regina Kay, a family friend, said of Quai. “It’s like a role reversal. He’s doing everything his mother would do for him, and he doesn’t give it a second thought. It’s their normal.“

Prior to her diagnosis, Vaida was a design assistant for Jones New York who spent her free time doting on her son and exposing him to a variety of activities, including art classes, piano lessons and tap dancing. Unfortunately, her declining health forced things to change. When most kids would hang out with friends after school, Quai went home to care for his mother, never complaining or shrinking from the responsibility. Over the years since Vaida was first diagnosed, friends and relatives have come and gone but Quai has been steadfast in his devotion.

“She’s truly my heart, my rock and my stone,” Quai said. “She’s all I have.”

He and his mother have a mantra they repeat to each other in tough times — “Adapt and overcome.”

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Mark Teixeira and Vaida Jefferson