Yankees’ Aaron Boone gives date for first team workouts in the Bronx, more quotes, players arrive at the stadium (video)

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

On a conference call with New York Yankees Aaron Boone on Wednesday, the manager stated that the first scheduled team workout with occur on Saturday, to start spring training 2.0.

The Yankees have waited several months to return to action, and while they had to leave Florida due to the spike in coronavirus cases, they will start round two in the Bronx.

Boone also mentioned, regarding the civil issues the country is facing, that he encouraged the players to speak up and remain vocal in inspiring change.

We can expect the players to be making a difference with their platforms and to use the upcoming season to their advantage.

In addition, the players arrived at Yankee Stadium earlier on Wednesday morning, preparing to start rehabilitation for injured players and working our way toward playing form for the regular season which is expected to start in late July.

Additional quotes from the conference call:

“Our guys have been like awesome in this and have been guys who have stimulated and encouraged conversation and I think what we’re going through as a country… I really hope and believe we’re all gonna come out of it better for going through these times.”

“I feel like there’s so many people involved and listening and talking and that’s something we’ve already started to do within our organization and it’s something we’ll continue to encourage.”

Boone also gave a motivated answer:

“We’re a very hungry group and we want to climb to the top of the mountain. That goal doesn’t change. We want to be champions.”

UFC: Michelle Waterson & Angela Hill to fight on August 22nd card

A big time UFC strawweight contest is being added to the August 22nd fight card. Eighth ranked, Michelle Waterson (17-8), will be taking on thirteenth ranked, Angela Hill (12-8). The August card is being headlined by a middleweight contest between Yoel Romero and Uriah Hall.

Waterson looks to get back to UFC title contention

Both of these ladies come into this fight with a lot on the line. For the “The Karate Hottie”, she’s looking to snap the first losing streak of her career. Since joining the UFC five years ago, Waterson has consistently been one of the better strawweights in the UFC. Last year, she got the closest she’s been to a title shot with her fight against former champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

Waterson put up a really tough fight, but the former champion was too much. Waterson recently competed at UFC 249 and was suffered her second consecutive loss to another former champion, Carla Esparza. The decision was razor close and many scored the fight for Waterson.

Hill looking to bounce back

A week after Waterson suffered a tough loss on the scorecards, Angel Hill found herself the victim of a close decision. Hill had won three consecutive fights leading up to her fight against top contender, Claudia Gadelha. After losing the first round, many believed that Hill won the final two rounds to secure the win. However, two of the three judges gave the fight to Gadelha.

Hill got off to a rocky start in the UFC, but she looked like she was finding her groove this year. She won three fights in five months leading to that Gadelha fight. She looked fresh after that fight, and she wanted to get right back in there.

This will be an intriguing matchup for the UFC‘s strawweight division. A win for either woman puts them back on the road to contention. However, a loss for either would be a big setback at this stage in their careers. It should be a very fun matchup to watch when August 22nd rolls around.

MLB News: Major League Baseball news from around the country

New York Yankees, Derek Jeter

Will there be any SP Exhibition games?

Many New York Yankees fans are wondering if the YES Network will be televising any of the spring training games.  The answer is no one knows, not even the YES Network.  I found out why in a conference call with Yankee general manager Brian Cashman.  He was asked that question, and he responded that the owner will still be discussing if there would be any exhibition games.  I doubt there will be any, as Cashman added, that the Yankees would not be interested in any road games.

Here are the personal milestones that can be reached in this short season

Albert Pujols would have a record-breaking year even with the shortened season. He is just five home runs short of breaking Willie Mays record of 661 home runs, which would make Pujols 5th all-time.  Pujols is also just 12 RBI’s short of 2,087. If he accomplishes that, he will pass New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez’s record for 2nd all-time.

Other milestones that can be accomplished is for Angel’s outfielder Mike Trout.  If he hits just 15 home runs in the short season, he will reach the magic 300 number.  Los Angeles star pitcher Clayton Kershaw is just thirty-three strikeouts from the 2,500 plateau. New York Yankee Aaron Judge is just 13 hits away from 400 in his short career.

COVID-19 testing starts today at Yankee Stadium

Today is the first day that New York Yankees players were to report at the Stadium in the Bronx.  For the next two days, they will undergo coronavirus testing. After that, it is my understanding the all the players and workers at the Stadium will be tested twice weekly.  The entire staff will have MLB temperature checks every day upon arrival at the Stadium.

Yesterday in a conference call with GM Brian Cashman, he stated that he had the 101-page health protocol that was issued by MLB.  He said that the Stadium crew has been working for days to sterilized everything at the facility. He made it clear that they are making every effort to have all of the health protocols in place by the time training starts on Friday, July 3rd.

Brett Gardner will be the starting left-fielder

General Manager Brian Cashman indicated yesterday that Giancarlo Stanton would be the obvious choice to start the season as the DH.  If that is the case, it appears that Brett Gardner will be in left, with Aaron Hicks in the center and Aaron Judge in right-field.

If Aaron Judge is not recovered enough from his fractured rib to play in the outfield, that leaves manager Aaron Boone with the options of using Clint Frazier or Mike Tauchman in his place.  Cameron Maybin filled in for Judge last year, but he is now with the Texas Rangers.

One curious point of interest is that with this alignment, it puts Miguel Andujar in an odd position.  That position is none, nowhere to play. The Yankee will want Andujar’s bat in the lineup, so they are going to have to resolve how to accomplish that before the regular season starts. Originally the thought was that Stanton and Andujar would alternate in left field and being the DH.  That now seems not likely with Cashman saying Stanton would be the DH.

Manager Aaron Boone to have a conference call with the Media

This writer will take part in a conference call with New York Yankee Manager Aaron Boone at 2 pm this afternoon.  It is hoped we will learn more about Aaron Judge’s ability to be ready for the beginning of the regular season.

Other areas the writers will be looking to clarify is whether there will be MLB exhibition games during this spring training 2.0.  They will also want some guidance as to what the situation is with Giancarlo Stanton.  Boone in his news conferences, seems to be more open and thoughtful than Cashman, so hopefully, we will learn much more about spring training and his hopes for the shortened season.

Derek Jeter talks about the lack of trust between players and owners

Last night on Line Drive ex-Yankee and Miami Marlins owner talked about the recent MLB negotiations:

“It was disappointing. It was embarrassing at times. There’s a lot of trust — there is no trust (between MLB and the MLBPA), I should say, is the best way to put it,” Jeter said. “Hopefully things will change moving forward. It was pretty sad to see the back and forth being played out publicly at a time like now. So many people filing for unemployment throughout the country — over 30 million people, 40 million people — with no jobs. They really don’t want to hear owners and players going back and forth about how much money they deserve and how much money they need.

“I get it. I was a player,” Jeter added. “I feel as though players should fight for everything that they feel as though they should have. I’ll always support them in that sense, but in this particular case, I think something should have been done behind the scenes.”

Brian Cashman says no Yankees are expected to opt out of playing at this point: “The crew is all in”

Coronavirus has impacted our lives in ways we didn’t imagine at the start of the year. Lives and job positions lost often take the headlines, but our everyday dynamics have also been altered one way or another. And, for those of us who love baseball, we have had to endure several months of rumors, negotiations and bad blood between MLB and the union trying to figure out the details for the sport to return this year. Everything is behind us, for now, and we will get to see our beloved New York Yankees soon enough… if COVID-19 allows the season to start and end.

Speaking of COVID-19, it still represents a huge health risk that some players aren’t comfortable taking at this point. That’s why prominent players such as pitchers Mike Leake and Joe Ross, infielder Ryan Zimmerman and outfielder Ian Desmond had opted out of playing in the MLB 2020 season.

Will any Yankees players opt out of playing at some point?

That raises the question: Will any New York Yankees’ players take a similar path? Our own Alexander Wilson examined that possibility a couple of days ago, and while it remains possible that some Bombers jump out of the ship at some point before or during the season, it seems like most, if not all of them, will stay and seek championship number 28.

According to what Brian Cashman told James Wagner of the New York Times, no players have given him the indication that they will not play the season because of concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The crew is all in at this stage,” Cashman said. The Yankees did lose minor league signing and cancer survivor Chad Bettis, who elected to retire as opposed to trying to make the team as a non-roster invitee.

The Yankees’ baseball decisions leader also said that his understanding is that clubs won’t be able to disclose when players go on the COVID-19 injured list (IL) in the season. That will surely lead to speculation and confusion.

Jared Hughes signing could be huge for the New York Mets

New York Mets

I apologize for the not-so-funny headline. However, I need to point out that the Jared Hughes addition by the New York Mets on Tuesday night has the potential to pay dividends in a big way in what is shaping up to be an odd season.

The New York Mets’ bullpen is already a strength, as incredible as it may sound. Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia could be poised for rebound seasons, and if you want sure things, you have Seth Lugo, Justin Wilson and Brad Brach. Robert Gsellman and Dellin Betances (who, if healthy, could be the best relief arm in the team) complete an impressive group.

However, there is not such a thing as too much depth, and Hughes signing could be more than just that. The deal, per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, is worth a prorated $700,000, or about $260,000, so the righty isn’t expensive at all.

Yes, he is on the wrong side of 30 (he will turn 35 during the season) but the Mets are getting quality here. He has a 2.88 career ERA in 524 games and 519.0 innings, a fantastic arm that puts him among the most consistent relievers of the circuit.

The Mets could have a key bullpen contributor in Hughes

Hughes had a somewhat down year in 2019, pitching to a 4.04 ERA and a 5.29 FIP in 71 1/3 frames, but that has been about his worst performance since 2013, when he had a 4.78 ERA. Look at his yearly ERA marks since that season:

2014: 1.96

2015: 2.28

2016: 3.03

2017: 3.02

2018: 1.94

2019: 4.04

Hughes signed with the Houston Astros in the spring but requested to be released after the COVID-19 caused the shutdown in the industry. If he is healthy and pitches up to his skills, he will surely have a spot in the New York Mets’ middle relief in 2020.

He will be an asset for manager Luis Rojas, thanks in large part due to his ability to keep the ball on the ground: he has a career 61.5 GB percentage, which helps him somewhat offset his lack of Ks (6.07 K/9.)

Are the New York Giants preparing to take a big risk at the tackle positions?

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants are still rebuilding their entire roster, and after drafting Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick, taking unnecessary risks like putting him at right tackle could be malpractice. You don’t draft a franchise left tackle in the top five picks just to put them at right tackle, despite the fact that some players at the position have started out on the right side in their rookie seasons.

Nate Solder is one of the players that began his career at right tackle, inevitably moving over to the left side. Many players have followed this path, but I don’t believe Thomas should be put in the same situation, as John Schmeelk of Giants.com suggests.

Schmeelk believes that there will be a three-way battle for both left and right tackle between Solder, Cameron Fleming, and Thomas. If the Giants want to maximize their talent, they will move Solder over to the right side where they can plug in their rookie tackle on the left, as developing him and his chemistry with quarterback Daniel Jones is the more efficient move.

Left tackle and right tackle are vastly different

While we mustn’t forget about the traditional methods, the Giants plan on using with new head coach Joe Judge in place, playing Thomas at anything but left tackle could be a massive mistake. Both tackle spots require vastly different sets of fundamentals and technique, and while Thomas has had some experience on the right side, the chemistry he will develop with Jones is essential to the success of the offense.

Paul Schwartz of the New York Post believes giving Thomas the left tackle job would be a mistake, which I wholeheartedly disagree with. His reasoning revolves around Solder, who is entering his 10th season in the NFL and has ample experience at the position. However, you could make the argument that Solder allowed 11 sacks last year and was one of the worst starters at the position in all of football.

I don’t trust him protecting Daniel Jones any longer, as consistent pressure will eventually brew sub-conscious tendencies and habits, similar to how Eli Manning looked like Happy Feet toward the end of his career.

There’s one good reason the New York Giants could plug Thomas in at RT:

The only good reasoning I have seen is from former Giant Pro Bowl center, Shaun O’Hara. He believes Thomas would be better off starting at right tackle to build his character, avoiding the same reality Ereck Flowers experienced. Allowing Thomas to build a skill set on the right side would make him interchangeable, so if he struggles at left tackle, they can move them over to the right side.

“It’s good for a guy like him to come in and, ‘No, you’re not going to left tackle, you’re playing right tackle.’ You got to earn left tackle,'” said O’Hara. “… The worst thing to happen to Ereck Flowers is he started as a rookie at left tackle. Once you start as a rookie, that first year you couldn’t tell him anything, because he had already played. That’s it. He wasn’t listening to anybody.

“It’s good you got a guy in Andrew Thomas that’s still hungry.”

O’Hara states that Flowers didn’t have to earn left tackle, and while that is true, the Giants had been struggling at the position severely and didn’t have a player with at least serviceability on the roster. Just because other players have done it in the past doesn’t mean it works to perfection every time, and I believe Thomas has the tangible and intangible traits to perform well on the left side out of the gates.

Nonetheless, I do understand and recognize that starting his career at right tackle could be beneficial in some way, but I like the upside in chemistry building factor more in his development. The idea of creating a competition is great for culture and makes it known that every position is up for grabs, even if they know Thomas will be the starter in 2020.

This Day in Yankees History: Derek Jeter makes “The Dive”

New York Yankees’ captain and superstar Derek Jeter has accomplished so much during his 20 years wearing pinstripes. Besides the five World Series championships Jeter won in his career and the 14 All-Star games, there were many things that separated him from the rest of the league. There are several distinct plays that Jeter made that showed his absolute hustle for the team. It’s been 16 years since one of the most famous plays in his career was made, and Yankee fans haven’t forgotten it one bit.

In the 12th inning against the Red Sox, Trot Nixon hit a popup down the left-field line. With two outs and two runners on, the ball would have landed in fair territory and those runs would have scored. Jeter had other plans:

Catching the ball in fair territory and unable to stop his momentum, Jeter flies into the seats and comes up bleeding and bruised up. According to the Associated Press that reported on this game saying, “The All-Star shortstop made one of the greatest plays of his championship career.”

The AP went on to say about Jeter’s injuries from making this play:

Jeter left the ballpark with the face of beat-up boxer, a bloodied chin and a red, swollen cheek. He also had a bruised shoulder. X-Rays were negative.

“When he went into the stands, you knew he’s going to get hurt,” Cairo said. “You just hope it’s not bad.”

Jorge Posada was among several teammates that walked off with Jeter.

“He says he’s playing tomorrow. That’s the way Derek is, he has that intensity,” Posada said.

This play by no means lead to a World Series title or secured a playoff spot for the Yankees. However, it legendary because it shows how much of a gamer Derek Jeter was. His intensity and dedication to the game are just one of the many reasons why Jeter is an All-Time great.

UFC: Rizin Flyweight Champ, Manel Kape, set for debut at UFC 252

The UFC‘s flyweight division is going to see an upgrade in August as Rizin flyweight champion, Manel Kape (15-4), makes his UFC debut per MMA Junkie. For the last couple of years, the flyweight division has been extremely shallow with talent. Now, we are starting to see some positive momentum for a division the UFC was close to shutting down recently.

Kape will be making his debut against Rogerio Bontorin (16-2, 1 NC) in August. Bontorin is currently the ninth ranked flyweight in the world, so this is not going to be an easy first fight for the Rizin champ. Kape is no stranger to UFC talent as he holds wins over UFC veterans, Ian McCall and Takeya Mizugaki.

New talent for the UFC’s flyweight division

Kape is an exciting fighter who can win in all stages of the fight. Kape is a natural finisher who has only seen the judges scorecards three times in his career, losing two of those. In his 15 wins, nine have come by knockout, and five have come by submission. Kape is going to be a guy who can climb to the top of the division quickly if he’s able to win in August.

Bontorin made his debut in the UFC last year after winning on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. The Brazilian won his first two fights before dropping  a contest to former title challenger, Ray Borg. A win over Kape would be massive in Bontorin’s ambitions to climb in the UFC‘s flyweight division.

If this fight stays on the feet, you will have to think that Kape has the massive advantage. Kape has tremendous striking, and Bontorin is viewed more as a ground specialist. UFC 252 will be a big night for the flyweight division. The UFC has seen a big surge in African born fighters over the last couple of years, and Kape could be on his way to being the next big-time African fighter if he’s able to win at UFC 252.

New York Yankees: The Giancarlo Stanton injury news we didn’t want to hear

New York Yankees, Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

The New York Yankees have been a revolving door of injuries the past two years. The majority of their starting outfield was injured before spring training even began this year. With the coronavirus pandemic setting everything back months, the Yankees had ample time to recover and heal from previous injuries.

Players like Aaron Judge, James Paxton, Aaron Hicks, and Giancarlo Stanton have had an additional 4-5 months to prepare for the second wave of training camp and a condensed regular season, scheduled to start in late July.

On a conference call with Brian Cashman on Tuesday, he stated that Giancarlo Stanton would likely be a full go as the DH option, but that he hasn’t partaken in any outfield drills yet. Stanton suffered a grade 1 calf strain back in February; grade 1 being the very minimum of strain intensities.

The slugger still hasn’t taken any outfield reps, even in a practice scenario. This is very problematic for a player that struggled with soft tissue injuries last year and has clearly carried those same ailments into 2020.

The New York Yankees should be preparing to feature others in the outfield

Five months after he suffered the injury, Stanton is still struggling with the ability to field balls, as we can derive from Cashman’s statements. It is quite blasphemous that we are still talking about a minor Injury that occurred almost half a year ago. Whether it be the former strength and conditioning coach Matt Krause and his methods or Stanton simply preferring to be a bodybuilder over a professional athlete; this is a controversial situation considering he cannot return to full health following such a minor injury.

Stanton played in just 18 games last year, earning 59 at-bats which saw him hit three homers, 13 RBIs, and landed a .288 batting average. This was the least amount of games he has played in his career by a fair margin, having started in 158 two years ago in his first year with the Yankees. He had 38 homers, 100 RBIs, and logged a .266 batting average.

If Stanton can return to full health and at least rotate in at leftfield occasionally, the Yankees will be getting some sort of defensive value from him. However, it seems as if he will be mostly an offensive threat as the DH, giving players like Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier more opportunity to start in the outfield. Again, it is mine blowing that he has yet to begin taking flyballs or any sort of activities in the outfield. With spring training 2.0 starting very soon, he could progress quickly, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Officially no Minor League Baseball in 2020

On Tuesday, Minor League Baseball (MiLB) announced that there will officially not be a 2020 season. Although this was highly speculated and comes to no surprise, it’s disappointing nonetheless.

Teams don’t have enough money or resources to successfully complete a shortened season. Minor League teams rely heavily on ticket sales, and a 2020 season would sink most teams.

This hurts the development for many prospects. They won’t have any organized way of playing and developing the way they should, especially for players in lower levels.

Players in higher levels and highly rated prospects may have a better chance to develop, at least a little bit. With the resumption of the Major League season, teams are allowed to house up to 60 players in their “summer camp”. This is similar to spring training except at home stadiums with no games.

Major League rosters will have up to 30 players in the regular season, meaning 30 or so players from “summer camp” won’t be on the roster. A few will be on a “taxi squad” for IL stints, but the rest will be done with any type of organized baseball. This isn’t the development needed for a whole season, but it’s better than nothing for those players. They will at least get to face Major Leaguers in their own organization.

The cancelation of the 2020 Minor League season is yet another unfortunate impact of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s especially disappointing for the teams who are on the verge of elimination. They won’t have an official “farewell” from the sport.

Hopefully come next spring, coronavirus will have a vaccine. We can’t return to a full normalcy unless there’s a vaccine, meaning that there won’t be Minor League Baseball until there is one.