MLB lockout has Yankees in dark on players coming off surgery

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK- Major League Baseball’s lockout has left the New York Yankees unaware of how DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Hicks, Jameson Taillon and Darren O'Day are progressing following surgery.

Hicks, rehabbing from a May 26 operation to repair a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, hit .265 (13 for 49) in 12 games with Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Winter League in late November and early December. He had one homer, nine RBIs, four walks, 10 strikeouts and two steals.

LeMahieu had sports hernia surgery on Oct. 12, Taillon right ankle tendon surgery on Oct. 28 and O’Day left hamstring surgery on July 21, the same day outfielder Tim Locastro had surgery to repair a torn right ACL.

“I don’t have any contact with them, so I don’t know,” manager Aaron Boone said Wednesday during a conference call to discuss his revamped and expanded coaching staff.

MLB told teams not to contact players on 40-man rosters and wiped all images of those players off websites.

Baseball’s lockout started when the collective bargaining agreement expired Dec. 1. Boone doesn’t expect the team will evaluate the players until the work stoppage ends. It’s uncertain whether spring training will start as scheduled on Feb. 16.

“We tried to put our guys in the best position as far as our coaches at the time having those conversations and putting plans in place as we headed into Dec. 1,” Boone said. “Hopefuly set them up with programs and things that they can follow and be in a good position once this is all settled, but we’ve had no contact. Obviously it’s not ideal that we can’t have that contact and know how everyone’s doing, but we should get a decent idea in those early days of what we’re dealing with.”

Boone’s 11-man coaching staff includes newcomers in third base coach Luis Rojas, first base coach Travis Chapman, hitting coach Dillon Lawson, assistant hitting coaches Eric Chavez and Casey Dykes and assistant pitching coach Desi Druschel.

Holdovers include bench coach Carlos Mendoza, pitching coach Matt Blake, bullpen coach Mike Harkey, catching coordinator Tanner Swanson and coaching assistant Brett Weber.

Lawson spent the last three season as the Yankees’ minor league hitting coordinator.

“He’s had a really, really strong impact on our minor leagues,” Boone said. “One of the things that kind of sucks about the lockout, obviously, is him not being able to continue to build those relationships. But before the lockout started, we had him onboard and he was already starting to develop those relationships with guys and was able to have some meaningful sessions and conversations.”

Chavez, a six-time Gold Glove third baseman who last played in 2014, is projected to have a role beyond his title.

“He’s got a really good perspective on the game. He’s very open-minded,” Boone said, “I kind of view him as a little bit of a Swiss Army (knife). He’s going to have a lot of different responsibilities. He’s going to have his hands in a lot of different things. It’s a role that I feel is going to evolve as he allows it to.”

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.