X-rays on Cano come back negative

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 10:20 AM [General]

    As soon as Matt Harvey's 96-mile per hour fastball collided with the back of Robinson Cano's right knee, the sound was enough to concern the Yankees. It was a loud and ugly sound, a sound that was followed by the sight of a wounded Cano trying to walk to first base. He made it to first, but then quickly removed himself from the game.

    In a season that has been littered with injuries, the Yankees wondered if their best and most durable player had suffered a major injury in the first inning of the All-Star Game on Tuesday night. For several anxious minutes, Cano and the Yankees waited and wondered. The Yankees were relieved to learn that Cano's X-rays were negative and that he merely had a contusion on his right quadriceps.
    After Cano learned of the X-ray results, I spotted him sitting in a golf cart outside the National League clubhouse. I asked Cano if he was O.K. and Cano smiled and said that he was fine. Then Cano's driver hustled him away and drove him back to American League clubhouse. A few minutes later, Cano explained that he felt some tightness, not pain, in his quad and was hopeful that he could play against the Red Sox on Friday night.

    "Yeah, hopefully, yeah," Cano said.

    Cano described how Harvey's second pitch to him cut sharply inside and drilled him behind his knee. The ball moved so fast that Cano couldn't get out of the way. Cano said that trainers told him to ice his leg and rest for the next few days.

    When Cano limped from first base to the third base dugout to leave the game, Harvey patted his chest to take ownership of the pitch. Cano said Harvey was saying "my bad" and Cano winked at him.

    "What else can you say?" Cano said. He said Harvey did not "want to hit nobody on purpose."

    Harvey, who pitched two scoreless innings, stressed that he wasn't trying to hit Cano.

    "It's the last thing I wanted to do is injure somebody," Harvey said. "Obviously, I apologized and made sure he's O.K."

    As the Yankees try to make a post-season push, they need more offense and, of course, they must have a healthy and productive Cano. Cano has hit .302 with 21 homers and 65 runs batted in and has played in all 95 Yankee games. The Yankees need him to play in the 96th game and the 97th and on and on. A 96 M.P.H. fastball almost spoiled that plan, but Cano and the Yankees were fortunate that it didn't.

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    JCTV, Episode 10: Charl Brown

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 6:22 PM [General]

    In the latest episode of JCTV, Broadway actor Charl Brown joins Jack Curry to talk about acting on Broadway, the music of Smokey Robinson and his love of baseball.

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    JCTV, Episode 9: Adam Sandler

    Friday, July 12, 2013, 11:03 AM [General]

    In the latest episode of JCTV, comedian Adam Sandler joins Jack Curry to talk about the start of Sandler's career, the Mariano Rivera of comedians, his favorite all-time Yankees players and more.

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    JCTV, Episode 8: Bernie Williams

    Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 11:48 AM [General]

    The Yankees great reveals why he never formally retired, how many Major League at-bats he still has left in him, what happened to his Mickey Mantle-signed baseball and much more.

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    JCTV, Episode 7: Brian Cashman

    Thursday, June 27, 2013, 10:56 AM [General]

    In an interview recorded this past Monday, Jack Curry talks with Brian Cashman about the pressures of being Yankees general manger, George Steinbrenner's influence, learning to play guitar and more.

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    Confident Neal joins the Yankees, just as he expected

    Monday, June 17, 2013, 9:26 AM [General]

    There are some Spring Training mornings that are sleepier than others. Mornings where the players you planned to interview are unavailable and you spend an hour staring at your iPhone, the clubhouse television or the carpet. Every reporter hates those unproductive sessions.

    On one of those mornings that was headed toward being sleepy this spring, I ended up having my first conversation with Thomas Neal. Neal was a long shot to make the Yankees to open the season after being signed as a minor league free agent, but I had been impressed with his at bats so we started chatting. Soon, I was impressed with Neal’s demeanor, too.

    For a player who only had 24 plate appearances in the Major Leagues with the Cleveland Indians and who spent most of 2012 with Class AA Akron, Neal was confident. Confident in a good way, too, not a cocky way. He spoke about his career in a thoughtful manner, explaining what he had done to make it this far and what he needed to do to make it to the big leagues and remain there.

    When I asked Neal if he expected to help the 2013 Yankees, he didn’t hesitate and instantly said that he did. Two players who overheard Neal’s confident answer glanced in his direction, but I don’t think Neal even noticed that. He was focused on his plan, his path to making sure this season would be a season in which he contributed to the Yankees.

    “For me, a big part of doing well in this game has been the mental side,” Neal said. “I know what I can do. I have to stay confident and show that I can do it.”

    By staying confident and producing at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre, Neal (.339 average, .426 on-base percentage, two homers, 24 runs batted in) earned himself a promotion to the Yankees on Friday. The Yankees’ offense has been abysmal, going scoreless in the final 17 innings of a 3-2, 18-inning loss to the Oakland Athletics on Thursday. Mark Teixeira, Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner and Kevin Youkilis combined to go 0-for-28 with 12 strikeouts. New York was 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

    Neal is not a savior for an offense that is 11th in the American League with 260 runs, but he gives Manager Joe Girardi another option against left-handed pitchers. In recalling Neal, the Yankees hope he can provide some kind of offense, any kind of offense. Both Wells and Ichiro Suzuki, the Yankees’ corner outfielders, have vanished.

    Because the Yankees have been so uninspiring on offense, Neal will get a chance to contribute. It’s an opportunity that Neal envisioned during our conversation in spring training. When Neal wasn’t describing his grandfather’s baseball career and how he names his gloves, he predicted that he would help the Yankees in 2013. Beginning on Friday night, Neal gets his chance.

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    JCTV, Episode 5: Constantine Maroulis

    Friday, June 14, 2013, 11:51 AM [General]

    Actor, singer and New Jersey native Constantine Maroulis sits down with Jack Curry to discuss his love for New York Yankees baseball, the American Idol experience, performing on Broadway and more.

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    JCTV, Episode 4: Benny Horowitz

    Friday, June 7, 2013, 1:32 PM [General]

    The Gaslight Anthem drummer Benny Horowitz stops by the JCTV set with host Jack Curry to talk about baseball's unwritten rules, growing up as a Yankees fan, life on the road and much more.

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    JCTV, Episode 3: Benny Horowitz

    Thursday, June 6, 2013, 3:31 PM [General]

    The Gaslight Anthem's drummer, Benny Horowitz, stops by the JCTV set to talk New York Yankees baseball, his passion for music and much more with host Jack Curry.

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    JCTV, Episode 2: Flash Forward

    Friday, May 31, 2013, 4:04 PM [General]

    Jack Curry and John Flaherty discuss the 2013 All-Star Game, assessing young players, building a team and much more.

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    JCTV, Episode 1: Flashback

    Thursday, May 30, 2013, 3:47 PM [General]

    In the premiere of JCTV, Jack Curry talks with John Flaherty about the All-Star game, Mariano Rivera, eight of his own no-hitters and more.

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    Thriving with the Yankees, Vernon Wells fulfilling his father's dream

    Friday, May 24, 2013, 11:05 AM [General]

    Vernon Wells Jr. is an accomplished sports artist who visits baseball clubhouses to promote his dazzling paintings so he has met Brian Cashman, the Yankees' general manager. When Wells, who is the father of the outfielder with the same name, encountered Cashman at Tampa's International Plaza Mall a few years ago, they had a conversation. One part of it was memorable to Wells.

    "I don't know how it's going to happen, but I hope you get my son over there someday," Wells told Cashman. "That's how much respect I have for the Yankee organization."

    While Wells' words to Cashman were sincere, he admitted that Cashman might not have even remembered them. As quickly as Wells uttered those words, they disappeared. Or did they? Not in the father's world. Since Wells, a Texas kid, was a lifelong Yankee fan, he longed for his son to play for the Yankees. It couldn't hurt to mention that to Cashman.

    "We chatted very briefly," Wells explained. "But I am sure I relayed my desire for Vernon to be a Yankee."

    When I asked Cashman about the mall meeting, he said he has had numerous chats with Wells and called him "a great guy." He didn't remember their specific exchange near a few racks of shoes, but, at this point, it was irrelevant to Cashman. The father's wish had become a reality. Vernon Wells III is a Yankee this season. Other than Robinson Cano, he has also been the best player on the Yankees.

    "He has been AWESOME," said Cashman, in an e-mail response about Wells III.

    The capitals letters were provided by Cashman, meaning the GM wanted to emphasize just how valuable Wells has been to the Yankees. The Yankees spoke to the Angels about Wells in the offseason, a time in which they viewed him as a backup. When Cashman rekindled those discussions last March, he wanted Wells as a starter because Curtis Granderson was sidelined with a fractured hand. Now that Granderson has returned, and Manager Joe Girardi is rotating four outfielders in three spots, Girardi should make sure Wells (.287, 10 homers, 24 runs batted in) is always in the lineup.

    After two exasperating seasons in which Wells hit .222 with 36 homers and 95 runs batted in for the Angels, they were willing to trade him to the Yankees for some salary relief. The Angels are actually paying $28 million of the $42 million left on Wells' contract. In trying to live up to that hefty contract, Wells got himself into some bad habits. He tried to pull the ball too much to hit homers and his swing became too long.

    "I don't want to say it was a rude awakening," said Wells Jr. "But I used to wonder who was wearing his uniform out there."

    Where was the Vernon Wells that was so productive for the Blue Jays? In Spring Training, the father saw that player begin to reappear. After Wells, Jr. watched one of his son's games on TV, he noticed that Vernon's swing was fluid again. It was short, compact and quick. Wells' bat speed had returned.

    "I called and told him that was the swing that got him to where he was," Wells Jr. said. "He wasn't trying to hit a homer. He said that he was just trying to make contact. You could see the difference."

    From studying old videotape, Wells III realized that he wasn't using the entire field and had become too pull-happy and homer-happy. Once Wells simplified his approach, he became a reliable hitter again. Gary Sheffield used to whip his bat through the strike zone as quickly and viciously as any hitter I ever saw. There have been a times where Wells has reminded me of Sheffield, his bat barreling through the zone and making solid contact.

    "I told him he still had a plenty left in the tank," said Wells Jr., as his son struggled for the last two years. "His approach was getting in the way. I knew it was still in there."

    When Wells Jr. called himself Vernon's "batting coach since birth," it had a lot of significance. Not only does the 58-year old father study the 34-year old son's swing and offer insight, he also still plays himself. Every October, Wells competes in senior tournaments in Arizona. He is a hired hitter of sorts, shifting from roster to roster on teams that range from Over-25-year olds to Over 55-year olds. In one tournament, he hit behind Kevin Mitchell, the former National League Most Valuable Player. Wells Jr. was named the MVP of the tournament.

    Because Wells is self-employed and can travel with his art materials, that allows him to stay in Arizona for the month and play baseball every day. Wells, whose website, has been painting professionally for 30 years and calls himself "the most commissioned sports artist ever." Check out his website. Every painting you click on is more amazing than the previous one.

    There is one painting that Wells hasn't done yet, but that he's planning to do after the season. It's a painting that he has envisioned for years, a painting that he hinted at when he spoke to Cashman. It's a painting of his son wearing a Yankee uniform, finally wearing a Yankee uniform.

    "When he was a high school senior, I was hoping he'd go straight to the Yankees," Wells said. "Now he's there. There's just something different about the pinstripes."

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