New York Yankee Legends: Tough love Joe Girardi, Mr. determination

New York Yankees, Yankees, Joe Girardi

The New York Yankees had Joe Girardi both as a player and a manager. Joe’s middle name is Elliot, but it should be determined. Joe Girardi was a pretty average player and a catcher with little hitting ability, and often as a catcher let runners run on him, but he was determined to get better. He was determined to call the best game he could in handling pitchers, and that he did.

He was determined to take a young inexperienced Florida Marlins club, a club with the lowest payroll in baseball, to heights it had not seen, and he did, almost to the wild card game and was named the Manager of the Year. He was determined to take the Yankees to another World Series, and he did that too. After not having his Yankee contract renewed, he was determined to get back as a manager; he did that, in 2020, he was named the new manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.  They ended the season third in the NL East; this year, they are number one.

Joe Girardi’s style was to be strict but not any more demanding of others than himself. Born on October 14, 1964, the fourth of five children, he grew up in Peoria, Illinois. His Dad Jerry was a salesman but did a variety of other jobs. His Mom Angela was full-time as a child psychologist. His mother and father died early in life, his father of early-onset Alzheimer’s, and his mother of ovarian cancer.

Joe credits his father with his determination and the many things he taught the young Joseph. At the age of 12, he would play with his older brothers and their friends; Joe liked playing shortstop but caught because no one else would do it. He later in life would credit his brothers for helping him improve his game. He would say when you play with those older than you, you are forced to get better.

Joe’s sports history

The young Girardi was multi-talented, playing basketball, football and baseball through high school. In 1983 he would enroll in Northwestern University. He played for the Northwestern Wildcats baseball team, where he was a two-time All-Big Ten selection and a three-time Academic All-American. At the end of the 1986 semester, he would earn his bachelor’s degree in engineering. Girardi was a popular student at Northwestern; he was the first-ever freshman to be elected president of a fraternity at Northwestern.

The Chicago Cubs drafted him in 1986 and sent him to Single-A Peoria. He got off to a hot start hitting near .330. He ended the season batting .309 with Peoria, .280 with Carolina in 1987, and .272 with Double-A Pittsfield in 1988. In 1989 he would meet Don Zimmer, who was then the Cubs manager. He would make his major league debut on April 4th. He hit a single and scored the first run of the season for the Cubs. In his rookie year with the Cubs, Girardi batted .248 with a home run and 14 runs batted in (RBIs) in 59 games. In 1990, he played in 133 games, batting .270 with a home run and 38 RBIs. In 1991, he played in only 21 games, batting .191 with 6 RBIs. In 1992, he played in 91 games, batting .270 with a home run and 12 RBIs.

After the 92 season, he was traded to the Colorado Rockies. Joe loved playing at Mile High Stadium. In his first year with the Rockies in 1993, he played in 86 games, batting .290 with five triples, three home runs, and 31 RBIs. In 1994, he played in 93 games, batting .276 with four triples, four home runs, and 34 RBIs. In 1995, he played in 125 games batting .262 with a career-high 8 home runs and 55 RBIs. At the end of the season he would be traded to the New York Yankees.

Joe Girardi becomes a New York Yankee

Joe would become the New York Yankee’s catcher. On May 14, 1996, Girardi caught Dwight Gooden’s no-hitter. Girardi played in 124 games during the 1996 season, batting .294 with two home runs and 45 RBIs. During the World Series against the Braves, Girardi would hit a triple that helped the Yankees win that game, and ultimately the World Series. In 1997 Girardi would get a new backup catcher in the 25-year-old Jorge Posada; the pair would share the backstop position for the next 3 years when Posada would become the primary catcher. In 1999 his last year with the Yankees, Girardi would call his second perfect game, this one for David Cone. There are very few catchers that have ever caught two perfect games.

In 2000 Joe would be back with his debut team, the Chicago Cubs. He would be named to the All-Star team that year. But in 2002, he would be called upon to speak to the Cub crowd at Wrigley Field. The game that day was nationally televised between the Cubs and the Cardinals. The Cardinal pitcher was to be Darryl Kile, but Kile had been found dead at his home. Girardi approached the mic before stands filled with fans and announced “due to a tragedy in the Cardinal family” that there would be no game that day. He asked all fans to be respectful of the matter as they found out about it on their own and to pray. After the season, Joe would play in 16 games with the Cardinals. With his hitting declining, he would retire as a player after the season. He would become a YES Network commentator in 2004.

Joe’s coaching and managerial career

Joe Girardi became Joe Torres bench coach in 2005, while still holding down some of his YES work in the “Kids on Deck” program. Girardi was a broadcaster for the third, fourth, and fifth games of the 2006 World Series on the Fox Network. During the offseason in 2005, Girardi would be named the new manager of the Florida Marlins. He had a young inexperienced team that had the lowest player salary in the majors.

He often had fights with owner Jeff Loria. In 2006 Girardi brought his hapless team almost to the Wild Card game and was named Manager of the Year, but he would be fired due to conflicts with Lori. After being considered as the manager for the Cubs and Nationals, he returned to the YES booth in 2007. Joe Torres winning ways would come to an end when Torre and the Yankees couldn’t agree to a contract. The Yankees considered Don Mattingly, Tony Pena and Girardi, they ultimately gave Joe the job, and he signed a 3-year contract.

In 2008 Joe would appear on the field with the number 27 on his back, signaling that he was bound and determined to get the New York Yankees to their 27th World Championship. In 2008 the Yankees would miss the playoffs for the first time in fourteen years, and fans would say they should never have gotten rid of Joe Torre. But the fact was they won 89 games with a flawed team that was poorly caught and ineffectively pitched. In 2009 the New York Yankees management brought on CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Nick Swisher, and Mark Teixeira. In his second year, Joe Girardi would take the Yankees to their 27 World Series win defeating the Philadelphia Phillies.

Although the 2008 team through the 2010 team appreciated Girardi’s tough-love approach to managing, future teams would not be as accepting of it, and it would eventually lead to his contract not being renewed. In 2017 Girardi managed aggressively, and they won the AL East. With the new “Baby Bombers” Aaron Judge and Luis Severino leading the team in the battle for the East, Girardi would yank Severino in favor of reliever Chad Green and the Yankees would win 8-4 and advance to the ALDS.

In the ALDS against the Twins the New York Yankees would lose game one. In game two, Joe would mismanage horribly, yanking the starter CC Sabathia early in favor of Green. Green would load the bases, and Francisco Lindor would hit a grand slam for the Yankee loss. The Yankees would go on to win all of the elimination games and win the ALDS. The Astros would take the ALCS in seven games and, Joe’s time as the manager would be over. Several of the youngest players would express their disdain for Girardi, some saying it’s a long season; he wears you down.  Had the Astros not cheated in the 2017 ALCS,  Girardi may not have been fired, something we may never know.

Since Joe’s departure, there has been an ongoing conversation on social media about the approach Girardi took to managing and that of Aaron Boone. The basic difference is that Boone is everybody’s friend, where Joe was the tough love father to the players. In an interesting piece today, EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Nathan Solomon made a Girardi/Sanchez comparison:

“Ever since Joe Girardi was fired by the New York Yankees, Sanchez hasn’t been the same. His average since the beginning of 2018 is just .199 with a .741 OPS. One of the main reasons why Girardi was fired had to do with his relationship between him and the catcher before Sanchez’s struggles began. But now, looking in hindsight, it may not also be just a coincidence that Sanchez has struggled since Girardi’s departure.”

Joe the broadcaster and Phillies manager

After the season Girardi would again go into broadcasting with several outlets, including the MLB Network. From the time he left the Yankees at the end of this season, Joe Girardi’s name came up several times as managerial openings came up. After two years in broadcasting, Joe Girardi is now the newly hired manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. Joe is still young (56), and it is too early to evaluate his managerial career. Joe is still loved by the Yankee faithful and several of the players. The Phillies will meet the Yankees at the Stadium on July 20th.

Personals

One thing that has never changed is that Joe carries his emotions on his sleeve. Things and events deeply touch him, never shy about showing his anger toward an umpire that he thought had made a bad call against the Yankees.  Tears ran down his face when he spoke about Yogi Berra’s death.  He visibly cried when both Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera left the field for the last time.  Joe Girardi is a good man, a very good man.

In 1990, he married his lovely wife, Kim Innocenzi-Girardi. The couple is also blessed with three children that are all now adults, named Lena Yvonne, Serena, and Dante. He is leading a blissful and happy family life. Her husband understands her profession and gives her the freedom to do her work the way she wants. The couple is enjoying their life a lot at their home that Joe purchased when with the Yankees, in Purchase, New York. In summer 2019, Wilson Premier League Joe coached his son, that looks remarkably like him.

Yankees’ Brian Cashman will leave things in the hands of Aaron Boone, who can’t figure out how to win

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone, Brian Cashman

The New York Yankees have started the 2021 season with five wins and 10 losses, including five consecutive defeats over the past few days. They were most recently swept by the Tampa Bay Rays, scoring a total of seven runs during those three games.

Ultimately, the team has struggled considerably to get things going, and while their pitching has been decent at times, it is their offense that has lacked gusto. The Yankees desperately need a catalyst to fuel a turnaround, and while GM Brian Cashman says the team needs to self-correct, he also stated that Aaron Boone is in control of the roster and will be making those strategic decisions.

The New York Yankees need a change, but they also need consistency:

Ultimately, the analytical process that Boone has utilized isn’t working, and rotating Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier in left-field isn’t going to get the job done. They went out and acquired Rougned Odor from the Texas Rangers to help in the infield, and while he’s added a slight spark, he can’t carry the team alone.

Currently, DJ LeMahieu leads the team in batting average at .286, with a minimum of 50 at-bats. Even that is a bit low for a player of his caliber that finished the 2020 season with an impressive .364 average. Again, there’s plenty of time to turn things around and go back into the shape of things, but Boone’s lack of motivation and strategy behind the scenes is clearly on display.

As the manager, (Boone) always has the disposal to utilize the roster how he sees fit,” Cashman said Monday in a Zoom media call. “Clearly there’s a lot of different choices to play with. That’s something he deals with and wrestles with his coaching staff on a day in and day out basis. If you want to switch things around in the outfield, you certainly have some other choices to play with if you want. And you can do the same on the infield, too. There’s a little bit of flexibility there. And that goes all the way to the catching spot, too. So he’s always had that in his back pocket.”

Unfortunately for the Yankees, switching things around doesn’t avoid one major reality, depth isn’t supposed to be as good as starting talent. Currently, one of their biggest flops so far this season is Aaron Hicks, who is hitting .160 over just 55 plate appearances. He has been utterly useless on the offensive side of the ball, for the most part, striking out 25.5% of the time.

Boone is considering shaking things up a bit regarding roster decisions, but he must continue to give action to his primary players instead of making too many changes too frequently.

“There’ll be some things that I consider about shaking things up, no question,” Boone said. “I’ve done it a little bit, but it’s a little tough. It’s a little bit of a different era when you only have three or four bench guys, but they’ll probably potentially be some more opportunities for guys that maybe haven’t been playing as much.”

New York Yankees: Big wigs weigh in on the Yankees dismal start

New York Yankees fans are outraged and frustrated at the Yankees’ dismal start of the 2021 season. Now to respond to fans who threw balls out onto the field during one game and after the loss Sunday in the finale for a team sweep, fans loudly booed the team as it left the field; management is talking to the media.

Aaron Boone on the poor start

Before the sweep of the New York Yankee by the Tampa Bay Rays, manager Aaron Boone gave his usual patient, rosy outlook when facing the media. But after losing five in a row, including that sweep by the Rays, Sunday finally seems to be taking on a different tone, one that says we have to play better.

The fact of the matter is the if your name isn’t Gerrit Cole, you have not pitched dependably; if your a hitter, you, with few exceptions, have not hit consistently or situationally. If you’re a player on the field, you have provided some pretty sloppy play. Sunday’s game was a mess with several mistakes you might not see in Little League play.

Finally, Friday night, after another loss in the opener with the Rays, Aaron Boone called for a team meeting immediately at the games’ end. Slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who has the most RBI’s this season, said that Boone seemed angry. The Yankees only performing starting pitcher Gerrit Cole had more to say about it:

“I haven’t played with Aaron quite as much as some of the other players,” Cole said before Saturday’s Yankees-Rays’ game at Yankee Stadium. “But I’ve certainly been reamed out by a few managers in my day. It was pretty par for the course from what I’ve seen in my experience in the big leagues. I think the players listen to (Boone), and I think it was impactful.”

“I think there’s a handful of different variables, the first one being that baseball is a hard game. A lot of times when everything’s going well it can seem easy. And when everything’s not going well, it can dumbfound you at the same time. I think it is early and we all were looking to settle in.

“A streak like this after two or three months of really solid baseball will get overlooked, but we don’t have that backdrop right now. We’re kind of scuffling here and we’re starting off the season with a less than ideal record. It is what it is, and we’ll take it one game at a time and keep trying to improve.”

After Friday night’s brutal loss and a team meeting, Boone had a night to think about the slow start; although still confident the team will pull out of it; he had this to say on Saturday morning:

“I think [I’m] more pissed off at the way we’ve come out of the gates here, not playing our best,” Boone said Saturday before his team tried to get back on track against the Rays at Yankee Stadium. “But I think we all share that in that room. Look, I concern myself with all things our club. As far as big picture and where I think we’re going, I’m still as confident as ever that we’ll work our way out of this and get rolling here eventually and be the team we expect.

“It’s always frustrating when you’re going through a tough time, but it’s also part of being a major leaguer and part of the 162-game season. Adversity’s going to show up for you. You don’t know when and where, how often, but you gotta be able to deal with it. That’s part of it. I’m confident we will.”

After the reaming out Friday night, although there was some spark in Saturday’s matinee, Sunday’s game was a disaster when the Rays completed their sweep. No matter how hard the team tried, they lost two more games seeing them at the very bottom of the American League.

Cashman on his part this season

“Our record is reflective of our organization,” Cashman said. “Obviously, Aaron’s a piece of that, as am I. But otherwise he’s doing everything he needs to do. … Obviously he spoke to the team after that tough loss (on Friday night). He obviously engaged the group in a strong way. So he’s doing everything he needs to do, and most importantly supporting these guys because we trust our players and we trust their abilities and we trust over the course of time that will, as it normally does, correct itself with a lot more games on the belt. So I think Aaron Boone is doing everything he can do within his power currently.”

Cashman on owner Hal Steinbrenner

“He’s disappointed, clearly,” Cashman said Monday in a Zoom media call. “Hal obviously has got a lot invested in this situation, but he’s also a fan just like we all are. Our expectation is to provide great Yankee baseball for those who come to the games or those who are watching the games, and we haven’t done that here in the beginning of April.”

This writer wants New York Yankee fans to realize, the bottom line in all of this is to remember this is not the end of the world, it’s a long 162 game season, and these first 15 games are just a blip in that season, even the best of teams in their best years have ups and downs in a season. In 1997 the Yankees got off to a 5-10 start and then won 18 of their next 25 games. They did lose the division that year and the Wild card berth. But did win 4 World Series Championships in the surrounding five years.

The unfortunate part of this slow start is that every loss this early in the season can be impactful at the end of the season. The Yankee pitchers have to pitch better and longer. The defense needs to get down to basics and clean up their act. I do not doubt that the Yankees hitters will start hitting, but they must start doing it sooner than later.

The New York Yankees now have a hole to dig themselves out of, and hopefully, that will start today when they face the Atlanta Braves. They have faced the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays an inordinate number of times to start the season. After the short 2 game series with the Braves, they will face the Cleveland Indians, the Baltimore Orioles, and the Detroit Tigers. Hopefully, they can turn themselves around in their search for the elusive New York Yankee 28th World Championship.

New York Yankees: Is Aaron Boone to blame?

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees are quickly digging themselves into a hole that they won’t get out of unless things change dramatically and quickly. The most troubling thing is that it doesn’t seem to be in of offing.

For all those Aaron Boone fans, I fully realize that Boone has done a mostly great job with the Yankees with back-to-back 100 win game seasons and doing it under the worst of circumstances. But there is one flaw the Yankees have not been able to get to a World Series game and last season even lost the division to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Now, this season the Yankees are off to their worst start since 1997. They are 5-10 but seem even worst than that stat. Yes, it’s not the end of the world, but with every game the Yankees lose, it will impact the season record and whether they go into the postseason. The Yankees have got to improve, but there doesn’t seem to be the inspiration to do that. The pitching situation presents its own problems, but right now, a lack of hitting is the biggest issue.

During yesterday’s game, I watched the batters carefully; the Yankee batter seemed to be standing at the plate just waiting for the ball to come to them, while Ray’s batters seemed almost ready to jump out of their skin to get a hit. The Yankees seem to lack energy, and that I lay on Aaron Boone’s doorstep. Joe Girardi would not allow this lack of energy while Boone seems to be painting a rosy picture saying that he is sure things will get better. The question is when?

The New York Yankees are last in the American League and 28th in all of baseball. The Yankees have not particularly played well against the Blue Jays, but it appears the Tampa Bay Rays have gotten into the head of the Yankees. They seem to be resigned to lose against them. This season and last, the Yankees have lost 15 of 18 games against the Rays. This season they are off to a bad start winning only one of six games played. Even Gerrit Cole, the Yankee’s $324 million pitcher, couldn’t save the Yankees yesterday.

After far too many losses, manager Boone finally had a team meeting; according to Giancarlo Stanton, in that meeting, the usually rosy Boone seemed angry. The question is, was he inspiring? Apparently not; the Yankees surely did not come into yesterday’s game ready to play; the game was a mess. A game that the Yankees could only muster up 3 hits in the game while committing a multitude of mistakes, some that you wouldn’t see in a high school game. It’s not understandable that a team with a $134 million payroll advantage cant win games against that team. You would have to assume the Rays are more prepared and better managed.

Those mistakes resulted in only one official error but still impacted the game negatively. Gio Urshela overthrew to first base, Aaron Hicks double, and triple bobbled, resulting in an error. Clint Frazier, upon catching a fly out and trying to throw to second airmailed, the ball, halfway between pitcher Cole and first base. These are mistakes that should not be made in major league play.

The New York Yankees entered the game yesterday in last place in the American League, 23rd in the majors in on-base percentage, 24th in runs, 25th in total bases, and 28th in OPS, and they responded with a grand total of two runs on three hits in the 4-2 defeat. In the 3 games set against the Rays, the Yankees only averaged 2.1 runs per game.

How to fix all of this is beyond my pay grade, but the hitters, pitchers, and coaches will have to do their jobs and turn this around quickly, and Aaron Boone has to lead that charge.

 

Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone: “We’re getting punched in the mouth right now”

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone, Brian Cashman

The New York Yankees dropped the series finale on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays. Their struggles are ongoing, and they are ugly enough that some fans are asking for manager Aaron Boone’s dismissal.

Defensive miscues and a curious decision to leave Yankees’ ace Gerrit Cole to start the seventh after he already had 98 pitches contributed in the loss, but once again, the offense (or lack thereof) was the main reason the Bombers dropped yet another game.

“Good things are on the horizon, but I don’t have the magic wand,” Cole told the Yankees’ official site. “I don’t know when it’s going to turn. Right now when you’re going through it, you’ve just got to keep grinding and play hard baseball.”

“We’re frustrated,” DJ LeMahieu said. “They (Tampa) have good pitching, but I feel like we have a better lineup than we showed this series, and we’ve showed this year so far. No one’s going to feel sorry for us; no one’s going to throw softer or throw easier for us. We’ve got to find it within ourselves to continue to get better and play the way we’re capable of.”

The Yankees still have the worst record in the AL

The 5-10 Yankees have the worst record in the American League. People in the organization have confidence that the turnaround will start soon, but they are dropping costly games.

Boone said the better: “We’re getting punched in the mouth right now,” he said. “We’ve got to swing the bats better, period. We’ve got our ace on the mound today and just couldn’t mount enough.”

The last place Yankees will have a series against the Atlanta Braves to start the week. The season is still extremely early, but pressure is starting to build up as the team gets into a bigger hole with each passing day.

Yankees News: Should Aaron Boone be on the hot seat?

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

Some indict New York Yankees skipper Aaron Boone as a catalyst in the team’s demise this season. Having lost eight of their last 10 games, the Yankees are currently struggling to find their potential, which we know they have buried under their inadequacies on offense. After being swept by the Tampa Bay Rays and losing their last five games, scoring no more than four runs in any of the contests, the Yankees are fighting to return to normal.

Boone has offered generic reasons for their struggles, and whether it be a lack of motivation or strategic differences, the team needs to find a way to put their best foot forward before they fall so far behind that the playoffs begin to dwindle. While I believe the Yankees will make a comeback and be just fine, they can’t afford to show such a weakness, especially with the team considered to be a World Series caliber squad.

Per the Yankees PR:

Yankees have dropped at least 10 of their first 15 games of a season for the eighth time in franchise history and first since 1997 (also 5-10) … have finished with a winning record in each of the last three such seasons (96-66 in 1997; 79-76 in 1972 and 93-69 in 1970).

The starting pitching has been inconsistent the past few weeks, but when your opposition is only scoring four or five runs, the Yankees should 100% be in the mix at all times. Even behind two, the Yankees never seem to have the offensive firepower to make a comeback.
On the season, some of their more efficient players have been struggling considerably, including Aaron Hicks, who’s hitting .160, Giancarlo Stanton at .176, and Gleyber Torres, who’s hitting .196.
These three players have been especially disappointing, and adding in starting left fielder Clint Frazier and his 35% strikeout rate doesn’t help.
The question is, what can Aaron Boone really do to change the course of this team? As it seems they lack confidence at every phase.
Watching a Yankee player sulk after recording another measly out is not exactly what we are used to, but eventually, they will break out of this funk and show their true colors.
Luckily, the MLB is composed of 162 games this year and not 60, so the Yankees don’t need to be too concerned at this point in the season. However, Tampa Bay does represent their kryptonite.
They are preparing to take on the Atlanta Braves at home, who have won three of their last four, representing an adequate opponent. The next few series are easily winnable, and Boone needs to prove his team can turn this thing around before the fans and analysts begin to completely turn on him.

Yankees’ Aaron Boone weighs in on MLB’s idea of moving the pitching rubber back

new york yankees, nyy, gerrit cole

Major League Baseball seems fixated on the idea that the game needs to do something to change the predominant “three true outcomes”: home runs, walks, and strikeouts. They want more action on the bases, and more balls in play. The New York Yankees, and every other team in the league, could endure a huge impact in the run-prevention department if the measure is ever implemented in the big leagues.

This week, it was announced that MLB and the Atlantic League will make an experiment: in the mentioned circuit, they will move the pitching rubber back to 61 feet, 6 inches. In total, they will move it 12 inches further from the plate.

The idea is that batters have a little bit of extra time to react to pitches and put the ball in play with more frequency.

The Yankees’ skipper was surprised but is willing to try it

Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone was surprised by the measure when he first learned about it on Wednesday. He wondered, according to MLB.com’s Yankees official site, how much it would affect pitchers, in the hypothetical case the rule was applied in the big show.

Yet, the Yankees’ skipper appears open to see how it works out.

“That seems pretty drastic, but again, sometimes the craziest of ideas end up having some traction to them,” Boone said. “I think it’s important that you try these things out when you are trying to consider different things in a league, where you can kind of take some information and see how it works out.

“I think it’s good that Major League Baseball is trying a number of these things out — to see what it looks like, gather information about it and look for ways to continue to move the game forward.”

The Yankees have some of the best pitchers in the world: Gerrit Cole, Aroldis Chapman, Corey Kluber, Chad Green, and other prominent names. It remains to be seen if it is something that they would be on board with.

Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone admired Giancarlo Stanton’s blast: ‘He’s a unicorn’

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

The New York Yankees were able to get their second win of the young MLB season. It came yesterday in the series opener against the Baltimore Orioles, and the final score was 7-0.

When the game was still close, Yankees’ slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who was getting booed by a portion of the crowd, deposited a middle-middle pitch on the other side of the wall for a grand slam that broke the game open.

Upon punishing the ball at 115 miles per hour and sending it 471 feet away, Stanton took a couple of seconds to admire the beauty of the blast. The sound, the ball leaving the park in a hurry, the distance, the crowd. Everything.

Then, he tossed his bat and started his jog around the bases. The Yankees were up 6-0 at that point.

The Yankees were happy to see their slugger get that first hit

It was the eighth grand slam of Stanton’s career. “Sometimes there’s no sound — there’s not anything except you watching the flight of the ball,” he told MLB.com. “You don’t know anything else that’s going on, and it’s a very cool feeling. It’s hard to describe very specifically, but it’s kind of like a blacked-out zone and an in-sync feeling. You’ve got to enjoy it and make sure you have a nice finish on it.”

Before his majestic slam against Shawn Armstrong, Stanton was 0-for-10 in the young season, and some Yankees’ fans had enough, as difficult to believe as that sounds.

“The way he hits them, it’s just different,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s like nothing else. He is a unicorn. That ball was so pure.”

Fellow Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge was happy for his teammate. “You always want to get that first hit out of the way, you want to get the first RBI and the first home run,” Judge said. “When you get it off your back, now it’s time to go. I don’t think mine went as far as Big G’s, but wherever they go, they still count.”

New York Yankees: 7 Yankee player injury updates

Since the beginning of spring training, the New York Yankees have been blessed with no major injuries to keep players out for the whole season. Although that is good news compared to the last two seasons, the Yankees have not been unscathed. Here are the most recent updates on the Yankee injured players.

Clarke Schmidt:

Schmidt vying for a place in the starting rotation, was hit early in spring training with bad news on that front. He was the first Yankee to suffer an injury in spring training. Schmidt suffered a common extensor strain. No matter how common he will miss significant time. Aaron Boone said that he is making satisfactory progress over the weekend but is still at least a week away from starting to throw again. Once he starts that, a better prediction can be made when he will pitch against live batters.

Zack Britton:

There have been quite a few minor injuries to players this spring training, but nothing compared to the last two seasons. The most devastating blow to the New York Yankees was when Zack Britton developed soreness in his elbow after a bullpen session. He had an MRI, and it was determined that surgery would be necessary to remove a bone chip from this throwing elbow.

This is particularly devasting due to the loss of Tommy Kahnle to the Dodgers. The Yankee did acquire Darren O’Day to ease the loss of Kahnle, but it made Britton’s role in the bullpen even more important as he would be the key setup man for Aroldis Chapman, even closing some games. Although it is unclear, the surgery is expected to occur today in New York by team surgeon Dr. Christopher Ahmad. He will be shut down for a month to six weeks and will have to build back up, making his return to the team sometime in late May or June.

Luis Severino:

Severino pitched in only three games in 2019 ( ERA 1.50) before needing Tommy John surgery; he lost the rest of the season and all of 2020. Now rehabbing, he is expected to rejoin the team in June or July. The recent reports on his progress are encouraging. Over the weekend, Severino, who has been throwing off the flat, took his first pitches off the mound. Bullpen coach Harkey said that Severino has been “working his tail off” to get back to form. Harkey believes he will be 100% upon his return.

Michael Beltre:

Beltre left Friday’s game against Pittsburgh with a hamstring injury, Marly Rivera of ESPN.com reported. The severity of the injury is not known as he consults with team doctors. Beltre posted a .637 OPS in the minors in 2019. So far this season, he had a hit in 11 plate appearances hoping to make the team. Rehab time for hamstring injuries is hard to predict. He could be back next week, or his spring training could be over; it sometimes takes a couple of months to recover fully according to the injury’s severity.

Robinson Chirinos:

With the loss of backup catcher Erik Kratz to retirement, the Yankees needed another catcher. They solved that with the signing of veteran catcher Robinson Chirinos. He has been playing and catching well, but now all his plans are on hold due to getting hit by a pitch last Wednesday. He is consulting with specialists to determine if he will need surgery. If he does, he will be out for some time.

Miguel Andujar:

In May of 2019, Andujar had season-ending surgery on his shoulder for the budding Yankee star. The Yankees needed a replacement at the hot corner, and they brought up Gio Urshela to fill in, a move that would prove unfortunate for Miguel. Urshela was so good he became the Yankees’ permanent third baseman. Last season he fought his way back even though the Yankees had no place for him, and that continued this spring training as he tried to gain a spot in the lineup. All of that is in question with an odd wrist and hand soreness that has become more intense in spring training. Now he is enlisting the services of a hand specialist. With this type of injury, there is no way to tell how long he will be away from the team.

Aaron Boone:

Over the offseason and particularly at the beginning of spring training, New York Yankee manager Aaron Boone felt punk, just not right. At the start of spring training, Boone noticed bouts of being tired and labored breathing. He consulted with doctors, and it was determined that his heart was beating too slowly and would require a pacemaker to correct the deficiency. In his second week with the pacemaker, the good news is that he back with the team and is feeling great, better than in years.

Although not injured, I have to mention that the New York Yankees have to be encouraged that both Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon seem very healthy and are performing as advertised. The Yankees took a big risk, hiring Kluber and trading for Taillon; both had not pitched for over a year due to injury and surgery.

New York Yankees: “Oh no, cuts are on the way”

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

For all 75 New York Yankee players at spring training, cuts are coming as the team whittles down to just 26 roster players. As many as 75 of them have one thing in common they hope to make the club, but the reality is that most of them won’t and face an uncertain future. Some clubs have starting cutting players already; the Yankees have not. Manager Aaron Boone said he wasn’t sure how cuts would work, although the club runs a parallel spring camp with some pitchers off-site at the player development complex.

The dreaded cut has changed over the years; back in the day, a player would return to his locker and find a red tag on it. That was the unceremonial way they found out; they cleaned out their locker and left. Today the cut method is far less harsh. You might get a tap on the shoulder and be escorted into the manager’s office. There would likely be a coach or two present. Besides being cut, they are often instructed what skills to continue to develop. But the result is the same, here one day and gone the next. That’s almost 50 closed-door meetings, 50 reassuring conversations, 50 sets of marching orders, often with the feel of an old Alfred Hitchcock movie.

If it’s a Major Leaguer that is being cut, it’s a bit more complicated. GM Brian Cashman or assistant GM Jean Afterman would also be in on the meeting to answer questions and take abuse from the exiting player. Aside from wanting to make the team, players also want to delay being cut as long as possible. While in spring training, as long as they stay in major-league camp, they receive major-league meal allowances. For 2021, a New York Yankee player who doesn’t make his year-round home in the Tampa metroplex is entitled to a weekly allowance of $345.50, a supplemental weekly allowance of $61.50, a daily room allowance of $40, and a daily meal and tip allowance of $98. These may not be the exact amounts but are representative as each team is a bit different.

One oddity of the cut season is that players often can’t be found; they may be hiding, in the parking lot, or just not around. But they will be found. Some may be elusive on Mondays because that’s when many cuts are made to avoid another week’s stipend. For some players reassigned, there will be no place to go. Minor-league camps won’t open until April 1, after the major-league club departs to open the season.

Some players that are cut will be assigned to alternate sites; some will be cut with nowhere to go or will join the unemployment line. But there will be valid reasons for teams to reassign or option players in the coming days. One example: Players who are optioned on or before March 16 can continue to participate in exhibition games until the end of the spring. But if they haven’t been optioned by that date and sustain a disabling injury in an exhibition, teams would be forced to place them on the major-league injured list; and pay them a major-league salary.

As difficult as this is for managers, there is a flipside. They also get to hand out the good news to players, getting to tell a Double or Triple-A player that his dream has come true, and he would be able to stand on that chalk line on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium.