Phil Coke did not make the trip with the team and Joe Girardi didn’t know if he would throw a bullpen session today. Coke is still recovering from taking a line drive (or leenya as he called it) off of his left thigh last Wednesday.
Yankees fans, I have news for you: Phil Coke is the man. This is a guy you want to root for. This is a guy you want to idolize and look up to. I was able to interview him today and as you will see in our time together we had a great Q&A. The lefty from Sonora, Calif., is ultra laid back and doesn’t seem to let too much phase him. He is a big cartoon movie fan and his favorite of them all is Cars. Yes, you heard me right, Cars. When I started laughing, his face lost all expression, just like the Gambler, and I was playfully pressured into saying it was a work of cinematic art and deserved an Oscar. I go way back with Coke. Way back to last year when he was in Trenton. He spent six years in the minors, and for guys like Coke and Brett Gardner, who I have seen up close and personal on their way up to the big club, it’s nice to see that they are getting some recognition for all their hard work, dedication, and perseverance. By the way, Coke showed me his bruise today on his thigh. Its not pretty. He did, however, say that the color of it has improved. When it first happened he described it as his navy as the navy in the Yankees interlocking N-Y.
Another GREAT guy to talk to is Dan Giese. We have talked about the NCAA tournament ad nauseum since my arrival here in Tampa. Today, I asked him what his favorite park was … and he said hands down Yankee Stadium. He also liked pitching in Fenway because it’s a historic park. Don’t read anything into that. He just likes the stadium. Then he told me something I thought was really cool. Last year, the Yankees had a travel day and Giese and David Robertson got to the Stadium early and sat in every section. Just to get different perspectives and to see how fans see the game. They also visited George Steinbrenner’s and Brian Cashman’s offices and hung out in the YES booth to see how it was to call a game.
Nick Swisher is making the trip to Port Charlotte today to take on the Rays and will get some time at first base.
Hideki Matsui – his health concerns are not going to go away. He ran three days in a row and Joe is feeling better and better about him every day. He said once you have a knee problem you always have a knee problem. Hideki is off today. Johnny Damon also has the day off. Joe said he gave some guys days off last week and he will do the same this week as well.
As for the Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera centerfield battle, Joe said they are still fighting it out – we still have two weeks – we want to have our lineup situated by the last week so we have another week to play with it and we’ll see where we are then. Joe was asked if both could make it to New York and he said they haven’t made their 25 man roster yet, he couldn’t promise that both would be on the team, but said they CAN carry both.
Damaso Marte will start to work his way back into getting some innings starting tomorrow.
CC Sabathia is great for the clubhouse; he is comfortable in his surroundings and bringing people together. Like any team, the Yankees will have to face some adversity. But he knows that the closer the club is, according to Girardi, the easier it will be for them to get through. Joe was also asked to compare someone to CC on his clubhouse persona and he gave two names, Alfredo Amazega and Tim Raines. Joe also said it is harder in his position as a pitcher as opposed to a position player to hold that kind of a role down. Sweeny Murti from WFAN playfully said to the skipper that CC sounds like he would make a great opening day starter and the manager replied with a laugh and said, “I would say that he is lined up real well for that.”
I asked how Phil Hughes took the news when he was sent down to Scranton yesterday and Girardi said he thought he was pretty good about it … he understood … he said they ran out of innings for him here. He was proud of the way Hughes approached Spring Training. He was looking for improvement and he saw it. I also asked about Phil Coke’s deep left thigh bruise from a liner he took in Kissimmee last Wednesday and he said it was much, much better than it was and should pitch tomorrow in Clearwater against the Phillies.
I talked to Coke after meeting with Girardi and Coke thinks Yankees Trainer Gene Monohan may not let him throw in a game and the bullpen-hopeful lefty will be relegated to a bullpen session here at “The Boss.” Girardi saw the bruise today and said, “That’s nothing catchers get them all the time.”
Joe hopped on the bus after our meeting for the game in Port Charlotte. Pitching coach Dave Eiland and Bench coach Tony Pena will hang back in Tampa to watch Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada do some battery work in a minor league game against the Pirates at the Yankees minor league complex in the shadow of Raymond James Stadium.
Today’s Lineup vs. Tampa
Sitting in the Press Box here at the Stadium South Media Relations Director Jason Zillo just announced some roster moves. Phil Hughes has been re-assigned to Triple-A Scranton along with fellow hurlers, Anthony Claggett and Steven Jackson. Right hander Humberto Sanchez was assigned to Trenton, and Jason Johnson who is still on the comeback trail after being diagnosed with a choroidal melanoma in his right eye.
**MORE BREAKING NEWS**
I talked to Phil Coke today about his injured left thigh. He said he took
a line drive off the leg while pitching in Kissimmee on Wednesday. He’ll be getting treatment today and is listed as day-to-day. He did throw this morning and we
hope to talk to him later this afternoon.
Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada were the battery in a Yankees minor league game yesterday at their minor league complex here in Tampa. I talked to Bullpen Coach Mike Harkey about Pettitte and Bench Coach Tony Pena about Posada this morning. The interviews will be up a bit later for your viewing pleasure.