Author: Bob Harkins


Yankees’ Gardner not sure how to earn more playing time



Brett Gardner has been one of the Yankees’ hottest hitters for the last two months, hitting .357 with a .440 on-base percentage since April 28.

He’s reached base nine times in 15 plate appearances in the three games since replacing the injured Derek Jeter at the lead-off spot. And in his last 50 games, Gardner has a higher batting average than Robinson Cano, a higher slugging percentage than Alex Rodriguez, and is tied with Curtis Granderson for the team’s highest OPS (.943).

Of course none of this means anything once Jeter returns from his calf injury. Joe Girardi confirmed as much on Tuesday, telling Ben Shpigel of the New York Times that “Derek’s been our leadoff guy. We’ll see how he feels, but yeah.”

Whether Gardner’s overall success will earn him some more starts against left-handers remains to be seen. His splits vs. lefties (.286/.390/.343) isn’t much worse than his numbers vs. righties (.294/.366/.465). One thing that is certain is Gardner would like more playing time:

The Yankees, though, are scheduled to face right-handed starters for at least the next six games. When asked what he could do to change Girardi’s mind, Gardner said, “Hit .400 against them, I don’t know.”

Gardner said the sporadic starts could grow frustrating because, “if you’re not getting a lot of at-bats against lefties, it’s hard to get better against them.”

Gardner’s frustration is understandable, as he’s put together nearly two months of extended success at the plate. Maybe he deserves more opportunity to show what he can do, and maybe he deserves to hit lead-off even after Jeter returns. Then again, you have to wonder if Gardner’s success is partly due to Girardi putting him in situations where he is more likely to do well.

Do you need playing time to succeed, or do you earn playing time by succeeding? Players, naturally, will always argue the former, but it’s a chicken-or-the-egg sort of thing.

Of course, I wouldn’t complain too much if I were Gardner. After all, Girardi gave him a shot to share lead-off duties with Jeter to start the season, and Gardner responded with a 6-for-40 slump. Will Gardner get another chance? If he keeps hitting like this, we’ll find out soon enough.

Mother Nature wreaks havoc at U.S. Cellular Field (video)


Mother Nature wreaked havoc on U.S. Cellular Field Tuesday night, as a wild thunderstorm hit the contest between the White Sox and the Cubs, causing a 1 hour, 44-minute delay.

Heavy winds made it difficult to get the tarp on the field, leaving the infield a muddy mess for crews to battle after the rain finally stopped.  If you watch the video above, you can see it’s a miracle they got the tarp on at all, as it took quite an effort just to get things under control.

Aside from the weather, there were some notable things from the game itself, which the White Sox won 3-2, thanks to a sacrifice fly by Brent Morel in the seventh inning.

  • Paul Konerko continued his hot streak, hitting a home run for the fifth straight game. It was his 21st of the season and came off Matt Garza in the second inning. The record for consecutive games with a home run is eight, shared by Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly and Dale Long.
  • In a far more random stat, White Sox starter Mark Buehrle came up short in his bid to earn his major league-best 25th interleague win. Buehrle left the game with a 2-1 lead, but Jesse Crain came on after the delay and surrendered a game-tying sac fly to Aramis Ramirez.
  • Adam Dunn, who is hitting .175, went 0-for-4 and struck out twice. He has now whiffed 91 times in 217 at-bats this season. Dunn has walked 41 times, though, leading Ozzie Guillen to quip: “I should put Dunn at leadoff because he’s the one who gets on base the most, but instead of striking out four (times), he might strike out six (times).”

Braves’ Prado ‘not close to being ready’ to return

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Martin Prado, who underwent surgery on June 10 to remove a staph infection from his lower right leg and left knee, is eligible to come off the disabled list on Thursday.

Unfortunately for the Atlanta Braves, that’s not going to happen soon.

David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Prado is “not close to being ready,” and that the Braves have not been given a projected date for his return.

He is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list on Thursday, but is not close to being ready. Incisions are left open to heal after surgery for staph-infection removal, and Prado won’t be cleared to begin physical activity using his legs until the wound is closed.

Prado said recovery has been difficult, and that the pain “was brutal.” He spent the first week after surgery in bed with his leg elevated, and received antibiotics intravenously for four days.

Prado was an All-Star in 2010 when he hit .307 with 15 home runs and an .809 OPS. He’s hitting .277 with 8 home runs and 33 RBIs in 61 games this season.

The Braves are 12th in the NL in runs scored, but are the current NL wild-card leader at 41-33 thanks to a pitching staff that is allowing just 3.4 runs per game, second in the league.

Ozzie downgrades Twins from piranhas to sardines

Ozzie Guillen

Back in 2006, Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said the Minnesota Twins were “piranhas.”

He meant it as a compliment, as in “man those Twins are feisty. They’re small and don’t look so threatening, but they will swarm and take you down!” Or something like that.

Now, in the year 2011, Ozzie is still dishing out compliments to the plucky Twins. That’s not surprising given that Minnesota has won 11 of its last 13 games, as well as six straight series against the White Sox.

But over time, his compliments seem to be getting a lot less, well, complimentary. What once were piranhas are now sardines:

“They are [bleeping] sardines. They ARE sardines. They look like a bunch of circus midgets out there. But they can play.”

Guillen went on to laud the work of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire for getting the most out of a team suffering numerous injuries. “When you’re missing Morneau, Mauer, Thome and Kubel, and you’re still winning games, you gotta give those guys credit.”

So there you have it. Ozzie still likes the Twins, but the piranhas have been downgraded to sardines.

And circus midgets.

Angels safe after emergency landing at LAX

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The Los Angeles Angels received a scare on Wednesday night when their charter flight was diverted to Los Angeles International Airport for an emergency landing, the Associated Press reported.

There were at least 60 people aboard the flight, which was returning from Kansas City, where the Angels wrapped up a 6-game road trip with a 2-0 loss to the Royals.

The Angels usually travel through John Wayne airport in Orange County, but were redirected to LAX after the pilot reported the plane having possible hydraulic problems. Fire engines were lined up along the runway, according to the Los Angeles Times, but were not needed as the plane landed without incident.

At 8:57 p.m. L.A. time, Angels broadcaster Victor Rojas tweeted the news:

“Nothing like an emergency landing at LAX to scare the crap out of us…good to be home.”

And at 9:03 p.m. Rojas provided more details:

“Believe it had something to do w hydraulic system & the possibility of having issues coming to a stop…safe landing. Great job by crew.”

Luckily everyone was safe, and were returned to Anaheim via bus, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo!