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Joe Buck on Yankees fans hating him, ‘injuring’ Alex Rodriguez in 2010 — January 31, 2017

Joe Buck on Yankees fans hating him, ‘injuring’ Alex Rodriguez in 2010

By Randy Miller

Joe Buck is claiming to be a Yankees fan.

Don’t believe him? Convinced Fox’s long-time lead MLB (and NFL) voice really is a Yankee hater?

Buck claimed otherwise Monday morning when he was a guest on Howard Stern’s satellite radio show.

“It’s crazy,” Buck told Stern. “Yankees fans believe that I don’t like the Yankees, which if you know anything about television and ratings and success …

“If there’s one team, Red Sox two, Cubs … you want these teams in the postseason. You’re going to get bigger ratings. Where do you want to be in the postseason?”

Stern brought up the Yankees when asking Buck about his role in Alex Rodriguez suffering a pre-game injury in August 2010.

“Unbelievable,” said. “I’m with my sister’s son, Jack. I walk out of the dugout … and Alex, who’s become a good friend of mine, is standing there at third base while they’re taking batting practice. And he looks over to me and goes, ‘Hey, Joe. I said, ‘Hey Alex.’ And I keep walking.

“He says, ‘Hey Joe, and he’s starting to say, ‘Is that your boy?’ And Lance Berkman, who was playing for the Yankees at the time, hits a rocket. It crunches him right under his knee. He goes running out one-legged into center field. He’s rolling around in the grass in center field grabbing his leg.

“I’m standing down there and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I hope nobody saw me talking to him.’ And eventually one of the players said, ‘I know how he got hurt. He was talking to that Fox guy, Buck.’

“Then the horde of media guys turn on me. They said, ‘What happened?’ I said, I just walked out on the field. He turned his head to say hi, and he got whacked.'”

Rodriguez wound up being scratched from the game, but the Yankees beat the Red Sox without him to maintain a 1 1/2 game lead in the AL East over Tampa and go six up on third-place Boston.

“It was the back cover of the Daily News,” Buck told Stern. “It said, ‘What the Buck?’ All I did was exist and I got (publicly ridiculed) for that.”

More than six years later, Buck knows a Yankees fans still can’t stand him.

“They hate me,” he said.

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How Red Sox hero helped Yankees’ Luis Severino fix problems — January 29, 2017

How Red Sox hero helped Yankees’ Luis Severino fix problems

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By Brendan Kuty

FORT LEE — Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino raised his right arm.

Then he explained a big reason his 2016 was so disappointing.

“My fastball was all the way over here,” Severino told NJ Advance Media, showing wider-than-normal release point.

“But my changeup was over here,” he said, his arm dropping even lower. “My slider was over here and then sometimes over here.”

A new focus where he lets go of the ball and an effort to transform his body have Severino believing he’ll fulfill the potential the Yankees saw during his fast rise in 2015, the 22-year-old said Saturday.

He’ll be fighting in spring training in a couple of weeks against four other righties for one of the Yankees’ two remaining rotation spots.

Severino appeared at the DoubleTree by Hilton on behalf of MAB Celebrity Services. Don Mattingly, Reggie Jackson and Willie Randolph were among other Yankees luminaries on hand, signing autographs, chatting and taking pictures with fans.

Last season was tough for the Dominican Republic native.

Saddled with high expectations following a blistering rookie campaign, Severino stumbled.

He went 0-8 with a 8.50 ERA in 11 starts. His early troubles got him sent to Triple-A in June following a 15-day disabled list stint due to a minor tricep injury. He was demoted again in August.

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild blamed Severino’s struggles on a bevy of problems, including poor fastball command, a loss of confidence in his changeup, a flat slider and a tendency to overthrow.

Severino said he worked on all of that in the Dominican Republic, even spending time with a Yankees nemesis.

“I had the honor to work with Pedro Martinez,” said Severino, who’s had a relationship with the Hall of Famer since 2015.

Severino and Martinez worked together for a few days.

“We focused on mechanics,” Severino said. “That’s something Larry told me to do. My mechanics, my release point — trying to fix it all.”

So, progress?

“I’m doing very well,” he said. “I’ve been throwing my bullpen and my changeup is way better than last year. My fastball location is better, too. So hopefully in spring training it’ll be good.”

Recently, general manager Brian Cashman said the Yankees told Severino to improve his flexibility because he might have been too muscular last season.

“I’m little skinnier,” he said. “I dropped like 10 pounds. We’ve been working on that, just in the gym and keeping a smart diet.”

Cashman added that if Severino doesn’t break with the big league club in spring training, he’ll head to Triple-A and will remain a starting pitcher despite dominating out of the bullpen at times last year.

Knowing he’ll stay a starter has been huge for Severino, he said.

“That’s great,” Severino said. “(Cashman) knows I’m going to be a good starter. I’m happy with that. I want to start. That’s my goal.”

Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez gets replica 2000 Yankees World Series ring back after high-end burglary ring bust — January 26, 2017

Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez gets replica 2000 Yankees World Series ring back after high-end burglary ring bust

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By MIKE MAZZEO

When Felix Hernandez pitched for the Mariners in the Bronx against the Yankees in 2015, the giveaway for fans at the stadium was a replica 2000 World Series ring.

This has all the makings of a Bronx mystery: All-Star pitcher, high-end burglars and a Yankee World Series ring.

There was just one small issue with the “ring,” but we will get to that in a second.

It all started Wednesday in the Seattle area when police arrested three suspects who alledgedly stole more than $3 million in jewelry and cash.

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The replica ring reads “BETTERIDGE est. 1897” on one side, which is the name of the company that sponsored the 2015 giveaway at Yankee Stadium.

Mariners ace Felix Hernandez was one of 123 people targeted, with the Cy Young winner losing more than $1.5 million in cash and jewelry, including an All-Star game ring, a watch with “King Felix” engraved on it, and what appeared to be a 2000 Yankees World Series ring, which caused quite a stir.

The only problem is the ring appears to be a replica. The Daily News did some sleuthing and found out on July 19, 2015, when Hernandez pitched in the Bronx, the giveaway that day was a 2000 World Series replica ring.

That day the first 18,000 fans 14 or younger received the replica from Betteridge Jewelers. And it appears that same replica ring, which can be purchased for a buy-it-now price of $23.39 on eBay, was recovered by police and entered into evidence.

Seattle media took photos of the ring, which led many to wonder which Yankee player or staffer it belonged to.

The News obtained photos of the replica ring from the Bellevue (Wash.) Police Department, which reads “BETTERIDGE est. 1897” on one side, matching up with the replica.

And just like that mystery solved, and probably the closest King Felix will ever get to a World Series ring!

 

As Yankees develop next homegrown core, Brian Cashman tasked with filling holes on current roster — January 25, 2017

As Yankees develop next homegrown core, Brian Cashman tasked with filling holes on current roster

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Brian Cashman has improvements to make to the current team to help the Yankees prospects in the future.

By Mike Mazzeo

Last week, the Yankees introduced many of their top prospects to the Bronx.

Now, with spring training fast approaching, it’s back to baseball.

The Bombers currently have the second-best farm system in the game, according to Keith Law of ESPN.

They had been 13th in Law’s rankings in 2016, but ascended to the No. 2 spot, just behind Atlanta, when GM Brian Cashman moved Aroldis Chapman andAndrew Miller at the trade deadline in exchange for Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield.

Add 2016 first-rounder Blake Rutherford, 2015 first-rounder James Kaprielian, Jorge Mateo, Chance Adams and others to the mix, and the total talent inside New York’s minor-league prospect base is significant. And that’s not even counting potential diamonds in the rough. The Yankees will also have a mid-first in the 2017 MLB draft.

Writes Law: “There’s no weakness here. They will trot out teams full of prospects at every level, and several of them will show up in the Bronx this year. I don’t know if Gleyber Torres is the new (Derek) Jeter or James Kaprielian the new (Andy) Pettitte, but I’ll take that bet.”

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From left, Yankees prospects James Kaprelian, Chance Adams, Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres.

The Bombers have been very open about wanting to get younger and create payroll flexibility — while still competing in the present — in order to potentially make a run at “big-game hunting” the likes of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Matt Harvey come free agency 2018-19.

Until then, according to Cashman, “We’re going to be in position to do a number of things.”

In a retooling year, the Yankees hope to trot out young 20-somethings Greg Bird and Aaron Judge in everyday roles, joining Gary Sanchez, who took 2,441 at-bats in the minors before ascending to a top-5 hitter in all of baseball over the final third of last season.

The goal is that many of these players will be the foundation of the next homegrown core. But the reality is that some may get hurt or fail to live up to expectations.

Still, having all this young talent means the Yankees will be on the minds of every team looking to turn prospects into quality major-league pieces. Cashman certainly does his due diligence anyway, but who knows what types of trade offers he may be presented with moving forward.

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Gerrit Cole.

Maybe consistent, cost-effective and controllable lefty Jose Quintana isn’t a fit now given the White Sox’s steep asking price, but maybe he will become a fit down the road. Daily News columnist John Harper has also mentioned Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, a former Yankees first-rounder in 2008 who stunningly didn’t sign with them, as someone who potentially fits the bill.

The starting rotation, after all, remains a question mark both now and in the future. Masahiro Tanaka can opt out at season’s end, while Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia are entering the final year of their deals. Luis Severino hopefully will be more flexible physically and more reliable as a result, but his spot isn’t a given, and the rest of the options for the back-end certainly don’t wow you, at least on paper anyway.

As such, it would be nice if Kaprielian does eventually become “the guy.” The Bombers haven’t had a consistent, homegrown top-of-the-rotation starter since Chien-Ming Wang a decade ago, so they could use another.

In the meantime, fans figure to be checking the box scores in Tampa, Trenton and Scranton just as frequently as they do in New York. There is intrigue and excitement. The possibility of late-season call-ups exists. Continued development of the kids will be paramount. As will knowing when to keep the Mariano Riveras and when to trade the Jesus Monteros.

Easier said than done, of course.

 

Under-the-radar lefty could help Yankees in big way, Brian Cashman says — January 21, 2017

Under-the-radar lefty could help Yankees in big way, Brian Cashman says

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Yankees reliever Joe Mantiply.

By Brendan Kuty

When the Yankees claimed lefty reliever Joe Mantiply off waivers from the Tigers during the General Managers Meetings in November, it hardly registered, though he was the team’s first addition of the offseason.

When they designated him for assignment and then re-signed him not long after, the focus again barely shifted from the holes the Yankees still had head to fill.

But general manager Brian Cashman recently made it sound like the Yankees might have gotten a steal.

Speaking to fans at The Hard Rock Cafe in New York City on Tuesday, Cashman said Mantiply could end up an under-the-radar candidate to have a big impact on the Yankees’ bullpen in 2017.

“He’s a soft-tossing situational lefty that I know that people were coming up to me saying, you snookered us when you claimed him off waivers,” Cashman said.

“We wanted him as an insurance policy, as depth here. He’s probably a non-Yankee-radar person because he hit a roster for a very short period of time because of the waiver trade from the Tigers” and because of moves that changed his roster status.

A few thoughts:

1.) Put on the spot: Cashman didn’t exactly go out of his way to volunteer this. He was asked by the event’s MC to name a player fans didn’t know who could end up playing a role in 2017. Cashman isn’t expecting Mantiply to take over the seventh inning any time soon.

2.) Depth: Mantiply would appear third or fourth on the Yankees’ situational lefty depth chart right now, presumably behind Tommy Layne, Chasen Shreve and Richard Bleier, who each have 40-man roster spots.

3.) Strikeouts?: “Soft-tossing situational lefty” and strikeouts aren’t exactly synonymous but Mantiply carried a strong 8.9 K/9 through the minors.

4.) What he throws: Just to get a bit more acquainted with the 25-year-old from Virginia, Mantiply’s sinker and fastball sit in the high 80s and he mixes in a low 80s slider and changeup.

With sides $2 million apart, Yankees will go to arbitration with Dellin Betances — January 19, 2017

With sides $2 million apart, Yankees will go to arbitration with Dellin Betances

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By  MIKE  MAZZEO

The Yankees and Dellin Betances are headed to an arbitration hearing.

GM Brian Cashman said Thursday morning that the two sides, who are $2 million apart, will not reach a resolution, meaning an arbitrator will decide the flame-throwing right-hander’s salary for the 2017 season.

The Yankees filed at $3 million while Betances filed at $5 million. It will be the team’s first arbitration hearing with a player since 2008 (Chien-Ming Wang). Betances made the league minimum ($507,000) last season.

“The conversations we had with his representatives were, ‘If we file, we trial,’” Cashman said at Yankee Stadium. “Based on all our discussions, it was clear that there were different perspectives and such a wide bridge, so we’ll go and basically have a polite discussion about market value and history of where the marketplace sits versus attempts for new market creation”

Betances, who is in his first year of arbitration eligibility, has posted a 1.93 ERA in 217 appearances over the past three seasons, making the All-Star team each year. During that span, the setup man, who will be entering his age-29 season, has struck out 392 batters in 247 innings.

Arbitration hearings, which are set by MLB and take place in February, have had a history of being contentious between player and club.

Asked if Betances wanted “closer money,” Cashman responded, “You’d have to ask them. I just know that they filed what they felt was appropriate and we filed what we felt was appropriate. And someone else will make the determination of what he makes, but either way we have a good pitcher.”

Cashman said the sides had “limited discussions” about a multi-year deal. “That’s always something that could happen down the line, but that’s not going to happen, in this case, right now,” he said.

 

Yankees’ Clint Frazier: I don’t have to live up to Andrew Miller hype — January 18, 2017

Yankees’ Clint Frazier: I don’t have to live up to Andrew Miller hype

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Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier.

By Brendan Kuty

NEW YORK — Yankees fans might forever link Clint Frazier and Andrew Miller, but Frazier wants none of it.

“I’m not watching him pitch anymore,” Frazier said. “I don’t want to watch him.”

A big key to Frazier having the kind of season that could propel him to a major-league debut will be to distance himself from the trade that put him in pinstripes in the first place, Frazier said at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square on Tuesday.

“I don’t think I need to try to fill the shoes of another person,” he said.

The Yankees acquired Frazier — Baseball America’s No. 2 Yankees prospect — and three other minor leaguers in a deal for Miller, one of the game’s best relievers, at the trade deadline.

While Miller helped carry the Indians to an eventual World Series loss to the Cubs, Frazier struggled at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

In 101 at-bats, Frazier, an outfielder, hit .229 with just three homers and 30 strikeouts.

It was the first time the Georgia native had truly struggled in professional baseball. He said he knows what happened.

“I went from trying to fill Clint Frazier’s shoes to trying to fill Andrew Miller’s shoes,” he said.

“And the guy did what he did because he’s one of the best pitchers in the game. To try to live up to the amount of hype that he had because I was traded for him was hard. He went out and did what he did and it was hard. For the first time, I thought I was humbled to the maximum tee. I had to get off cloud nine and realize there were some things I had to work on and I’m glad that a guy like Andrew is who I got traded for.”

Frazier will be invited to his first major league spring training in February. He said making the majors in 2017 was his goal, but that he wasn’t sure if it would actually happen.

“I think if I perform, I’ll be in the right spot,” he said. “I’m not the general manager. I can’t call myself up. But I think everything is going to fall into place the way it should be.”

Dellin Betances, Yankees squabbling over money … again — January 14, 2017

Dellin Betances, Yankees squabbling over money … again

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Yankees closer Dellin Betances throws to the Seattle Mariners during an Aug. 23, 2016 game in Seattle.

By Randy Miller

The Yankees are playing hardball with reliever Dellin Betances … or perhaps it’s the other way around.

Regardless, the sides were unable to work out a 2017 contract before Friday’s deadline for arbitration-eligible players and now may be headed for a hearing in February.

The sides were $2 million apart in their filing numbers, as Betances is asking for $5 million while the Yankees filed at $3 million, according to MLB.com.

Contract squabbling between the Yankees and Betances, an All-Star in each of his three full big-league seasons, is nothing new.

Betances was renewed last season at $507,500, the major league minimum, after rejecting the Yankees’ final offer of $540,000.

Now eligible for arbitration for the first time, Betances wants nearly 10 times what he made last season when he was great again in a setup role but flopped in the final two months as a closer.

For the season, the 6-foot-8 righty was 3-6 with a 3.07 ERA and 12 saves in 73 appearances with 126 strikeouts over 73 innings.

Betances, who turns 29 on March 23, took over as the Yankees’ closer in late July after Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller were traded days apart. His struggles over the final two months of 2016 — he pitched to a 4.37 ERA in 23 games — surely convinced the Yankees to address the closer position in the offseason, which they did in a big way by re-signing Chapman on Dec. 7 for $86 million over five years.

Betances became a good friend to Chapman last season, but perhaps still is bummed or angry about losing the closer job after having it for just a couple months.

No matter what Betances is thinking, he and the Yankees still can negotiate a deal before their not-yet-scheduled arbitration hearing. If this ordeal goes to a hearing, an arbitrator must pick one of the filed numbers.

The Yankees settled Friday with their other arbitration-eligible players on 2017 contracts: starting pitcher Michael Pineda ($7.4 million), shortstop Didi Gregorius ($5.1 million), relievers Adam Warren ($2.29 million) and Tommy Layne ($1.075 million), backup catcher Austin Romine ($805,000) and outfielder Aaron Hicks (undisclosed).

The Yankees haven’t had a hearing since 2008 when they defeated pitcher Chien-Ming Wang.

Yankees searching free agent bargain bin — January 13, 2017

Yankees searching free agent bargain bin

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Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

By Brendan Kuty

While Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has said he believes his spring training roster is more than “99.9 percent” set, he’s keeping an eye out for any late additions.

Specifically, Cashman said, he’s considering buy-low candidates.

“I spent some time on the phone (Monday) regarding free agency, just to make sure I keep one oar in the water as the market probably is collapsing for a lot of guys this close to spring training,” he said on the YES Network’s “Hot Stove” on Monday.

What’s accomplished: The Yankees went into the offseason with major holes in the rotation, the designated hitter spot and in the bullpen. Two of those holes have been plugged. The Yankees added closer Aroldis Chapman on a five-year, $86-million deal. And they signed Matt Holliday to a one-year, $13-million deal. Holliday is expected to spend most of his time at DH.

Where he’s probably looking: Cashman must be eyeing free agent starters. Jason Hammel is out there. So is Brett Anderson, Doug Fister and ex-Mets starterJonathon Niese. Cashman talked about a collapsing market. For the remaining starting pitchers — and probably all free agents, really — it’s likely become a game of chicken. Who’s willing to out-wait the competition for what he truly wants and who’s getting jittery, worrying that maybe their best offers have past?

Why it’s this way: Aside from the fact that the Yankees, of course, are always going to be open-minded about any possible move, Cashman once again mentioned the team’s lack of payroll flexibility while talking to reporters Tuesday night.

Yankees, Nathan Evoaldi talk deal, but … — January 12, 2017

Yankees, Nathan Evoaldi talk deal, but …

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Free agent starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.

By Brendan Kuty

NEW YORK — The Yankees and free agent starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi have discussed a deal that would bring the injured right-hander back to the organization while he rehabilitates from Tommy John surgery, general manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday night.

But Eovaldi, who won’t pitch until 2018, is still weighing his options and there’s competition for the 26-year-old.

Here’s what Cashman said about discussions with Eovaldi:

“Obviously, he’s a free agent, and we’ve had some discussions with Nate Eovaldi about trying to find a solution that works for both sides. But he’s still a free agent and there’s competition for him. Other than the injury, you couldn’t say enough about him. His makeup’s off the charts. His work ethic was off the charts. He was a performer for us. But, unfortunately, injury hit. But he’s on the free market, and he’s weighing a lot of different decisions. Yes, I’ve talked to (Eovaldi’s agent) Seth Levinson several times regarding him.”

Eovaldi had Tommy John and surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon on Aug. 16.

It was Eovaldi’s second Tommy John surgery. He had his first in high school.

Eovaldi has had a frustrating stint with the Yankees, who acquired him from the Marlins before the 2015 season. He’s gone 38-46 with a 4.45 ERA.

The Yankees have tried to unlock the strikeout potential of Eovaldi, who doesn’t get many swings and misses despite an average fastball velocity of 97.9 mph. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild helped Eovaldi develop a splitter to mixed success.

Eovaldi was demoted to the bullpen for a brief period after serious struggles starting.