Results tagged ‘ Ryan Tucker ’

HOPE Week: Friends of Jaclyn

Manager Joe Girardi, pitchers David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, David Phelps and Matt Thornton; catcher Francisco Cervelli and outfielder Ichiro Suzuki surprised Jaclyn Murphy, a student at Marist College, and three young children who are participants in the Friends of Jaclyn program, Wednesday as part of the Yankees’ HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere and Excel) initiative.

Ryan Tucker, 12, and Quinn Ostergren, 4, who are cousins, and Sean Callahan, 11, were with Murphy and began their day by having lunch with the players and coaches at the Hard Rock Cafe in Manhattan.

As honorary team members in the afternoon, the Yankees held a press conference to welcome them to the team in the Yankee Stadium press conference room. The children were given their own lockers in the clubhouse and suited up in Yankees uniforms before joining their new teammates for a variety of batting practice activities. After being on the field for pregame ceremonies, the Murphy, Tucker, Ostergren and Callahan families and Friends of Jaclyn representatives were guests of the Yankees for their game against the Blue Jays.

Jaclyn Murphy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and given a 30-percent chance of survival when she was nine years old. When the Northwestern University women’s lacrosse team learned about what Jaclyn was going through and about her passion for lacrosse, the Wildcats “adopted” her as an honorary member of the team. Later that spring, Northwestern won its first national championship in school history. Girardi is a graduate of Northwestern.

“Everything that they were doing for Jaclyn impacted her health — I know that for a fact,” her father, Denis Murphy, said. “I realized I had to do that for other kids.”

Thus began Friends of Jaclyn, a foundation created to improve the quality of life of pediatric brain tumor patients by pairing them with collegiate and high school sports teams. One such child is Tucker, a diehard Yankees fan who began his battle with cancer when he was three years old. Ryan’s 4-year-old cousin, Quinn, Ostergren is also battling cancer and has already undergone two surgeries in addition to chemotherapy treatment.

“We strive to create relationships that provide love, support and friendship,” Friends of Jaclyn executive director Erin Perkins said. “These children are nothing but loved by their teammates. Being adopted, in many cases, will be their only chance to be part of a team.”

Friends of Jaclyn celebrated its 500th adoption in May. Even though his daughter has been cancer-free for nine years, Denis Murphy continues to devote all of his time to the foundation. Having witnessed what the Northwestern women’s lacrosse team did for Jaclyn during her darkest days, he believes he has discovered the best medicine of all.

“Nothing—no chemotherapy, no pill, no drug—is more powerful than love and support.”

Granderson back where turnaround started

The Yankees’ current trip to Detroit and Texas is something of a nostalgic trek for center fielder Curtis Granderson. He spent the first six seasons of his career with the Tigers and revamped his swing last August with the Yankees in a series of sessions with hitting coach Kevin Long on a swing through Arlington.

Granderson was on the disabled list last year when the Yankees visited Detroit, so this week’s four-game series at Comerica Park was his first time back to the Motor City since the trade that sent him to the Yankees after the 2009 season. It proved a less than satisfying stop for him as Granderson had only two hits, both singles, in 14 at-bats (.143) with three walks and two runs.

But good old Rangers Ballpark, where Granderson started to turn around his 2010 season, was a welcome sight. He didn’t waste any time, either, as he leaned into a 1-1 fastball from lefthander Matt Harrison in the first inning for a two-run home run. Once close to an automatic out against lefties, Granderson has homered four times in 29 at-bats against southpaws this year.

In the seventh inning, it was righthander Ryan Tucker’s turn to be victimized as Granderson turned around a 2-0 fastball and homered into the right field upper deck that resembles old Tiger Stadium, which used to be in Detroit, so Granderson sort of went full circle. The turnaround in Granderson’s hitting since last August has been nothing short of extraordinary.

Prior to that series in Texas, Granderson was batting .239 with 11 doubles, 5 triples, 10 home runs and 32 RBI in 301 at-bats. Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not start him for the first two games in the series allowing Granderson to digest fully the work with Long, who said they worked on “calming” his swing and relying on his hands.

In 272 at-bats since the Texas sessions, Granderson has batted .265 with 10 doubles, 3 triples, 24 home runs and 55 RBI. That’s a .588 slugging percentage and a 44-homer pace over a 500-at-bat season. The pace is even higher (46 homers) based on Granderson’s league-leading 10 homers in 107 at-bats in this season alone in which he is slugging .626.

After losing the last three games in Detroit, the Yankees needed an offensive lift on yet another night when they struggled in the clutch (0-for-4 with runners in scoring position), and they got it from Granderson, who gave Ivan Nova all the support he needed from the get-go in a 4-1 victory over the Rangers.

Nova, who improved his record to 3-2 and lowered his ERA from 5.14 to 4.08, had a terrific mixture of sinking fastballs and curves in pitching into the eighth inning as a starter for the first time in the majors and still shy of 100 pitches (98).

Of the 22 outs Nova recorded, 17 were in the infield (16 on ground balls). He pitched to contact with only two hits allowed, one walk and one strikeout, which helped keep his pitch down. The only run off Nova was unearned due to an error by first baseman Mark Teixeira. In his past three starts, Nova has yielded three earned runs and 13 hits in 20 innings and is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA.

His effort was a continuation of sterling work by Yankees starters, who over the past 18 games have pitched to a 2.69 ERA in 120 1/3 innings as the question marks about the rotation seem to have turned into exclamation points.