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Didi Gregorius, two years from free agency, discusses next contract, future with Yankees — April 8, 2018

Didi Gregorius, two years from free agency, discusses next contract, future with Yankees

didi gregoriass

Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius is making $8.25 million this season.

By Randy Millar

NEW YORK Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius is ready to talk contract extension if and when management becomes interested in starting negotiations.

He’s willing to talk now.

He’s willing talk after the season.

His hope is that a new deal is in place before he can become a free agent after the 2019 season.

“If they offer me something and I get a chance to stay here, I’ll stay here,” Gregorius told NJ Advance Media.

Surely, the Yankees want to keep Gregorius, who has developed into a star after initially struggling in 2015 as Derek Jeter’s successor.

So far, the Yankees haven’t reached out to Gregorius, who has followed a tremendous 2017 season by getting off to a great start this year, the highlight being his record-setting eight-RBI game in last Tuesday’s home opener.

“I have no offer,” Gregorius said. “Nothing. No talks. I’m just playing the game. If they want to offer me a contract, they’ll offer me a contract. But they haven’t told me anything. All I worry about right now is my job.”

Thus far, the Yankees and Gregorius have had no contract squabbles, as he’s been eligible for salary arbitration the past three offseasons and each time the sides worked out a deal without a hearing.

Gregorius is making $8.25 million this year after bringing in $5.1 million last year and $2.425 million in 2016.

If the Yankees approach Gregorius about a long-term contract, he hinted that he wouldn’t try to break the bank.

“I don’t look at it as I’m the guy who plays shortstop and will have a lot of money,” he said. “It’s not about money for me. It’s about the love of the game and what I do for my teammates. That’s all that matters for me. At the end of the day, if they want to offer me a contract, they’ll offer me a contract. But right now I’m just focusing on what I can do and we’ll see how everything is going to turn out.”

Gregorius was asked if his preference is to stay with the Yankees.

“My preference is to stay in the big leagues, especially in New York,” he said. “So I’d probably stay here.”

What would Gregorius be worth on the open market?

One of the Major League scouts taking in Friday night’s game at Yankee Stadium was asked that question and his answer interestingly included mention of Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, one of the biggest names in next winter’s free agent class and rumored to be hoping to sign with the club that he rooted for in his youth, the Yankees.

“Didi’s a budding superstar and he’s not like Machado, who will try to get every dollar that he can get,” the scout said. “If the Yankees are smart, they’ll lock him up in the offseason. Give Didi $20 million a year for six years and I think he’ll be very happy and keep doing his thing.”

Gregorius had a breakout season last year, hitting .287 with 25 homers and 87 RBIs despite missing the first month with a shoulder injury. This year, he’s been the Yankees’ best player thus far with a .367 average, three homers and 10 RBIs in nine games through Saturday.

For sure, Gregorius is in line for mega bucks down the road.

“I don’t look at that stuff,” he said. “That’s not going to help me. The only thing I can control is playing the game the right way. If I do that, everything is going to be fine at the end.”

Yankees Place C.C. Sabathia, Brandon Drury On 10-Day DL — April 7, 2018

Yankees Place C.C. Sabathia, Brandon Drury On 10-Day DL

By Mark Polishuk

The Yankees have placed left-hander C.C. Sabathia and infielder Brandon Drury on the 10-day disabled list, the team announced.  Sabathia has been sidelined with a right hip strain, while Drury is suffering from severe migraines.  Right-handers Domingo German and Luis Cessa were recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in corresponding moves.  Righty Jonathan Holder was also optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to create more 25-man roster space for infielder Jace Peterson, who has been signed to a Major League contract and selected from Triple-A.

Some roster-shuffling was expected in the wake of the Yankees’ 14-inning marathon with the Orioles on Friday, particularly since the two teams have a quick turn-around for this afternoon’s 12:05PM CT start.  Cessa and German will provide some fresh arms to a New York bullpen that had to work 10 innings last night after Sabathia’s start was limited to just four innings due to his injury.

He told reporters (including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch) that “It was sore, and I never felt that spot before, ever, throwing a baseball.”  An MRI revealed no serious damage, however, and since the Yankees are off on Monday, Sabathia could end up missing just one start if he spends only the minimum 10 days on the DL.  Given Sabathia’s lengthy injury history, the DL placement could be something of a precautionary move on New York’s part, particularly since a roster spot was needed for an extra reliever.

Drury also had an early exit from last night’s game, leaving in the sixth inning due to migraines and impaired vision.  Such injuries are often difficult to attach to a timeframe, though it’s possible Drury could also be facing a minimal DL stint.

The Yankees have been hit hard by injuries in the early going, with Sabathia and Drury joining Greg Bird, Aaron Hicks, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clint Frazier, Ben Heller, and Billy McKinney on an already-crowded disabled list.  If that array of names wasn’t lengthy enough, Gary Sanchez and Tyler Wade also left Friday’s game due to a calf cramp and flu-like symptoms, respectively, though there isn’t yet any word on their status.  Sanchez obviously wasn’t going to start today anyway after catching 13-plus innings yesterday, though Austin Romine is the only other available catcher on New York’s active roster.

Cessa or German could potentially make a spot start in Sabathia’s place, while Drury’s spot will be filled more directly by Peterson, who originally signed a minor league deal with the Yankees in January.  That original minors pact would have guaranteed Peterson $900K if he reached the big leagues (it’s fair to assume that his new MLB contract contains similar terms).  The four-year veteran has a .234/.319/.331 slash line over 1278 career plate appearances with the Padres and Braves.  Peterson’s left-handed bat allows him to platoon with righty-swingers Ronald Torreyes and Miguel Andujar at third base, plus he could also see some action at second base depending on Wade’s status.

Donald Trump has a Giancarlo Stanton guarantee — April 6, 2018

Donald Trump has a Giancarlo Stanton guarantee

By Hannah Withiam

giancarlo trump

Donald Trump, the New Yorker, has taken a particular liking to the Yankees’ newest slugger.

Asked about where his New York baseball preferences lie during an appearance on the “Bernie & Sid” show Friday morning, the president avoided choosing a side but did add to the heightened expectations placed on Giancarlo Stanton. Even though Stanton has started the season with 13 strikeouts in 27 plate appearances, and has heard boos in two home games thus far, Trump believes he can do no wrong.

“The Yankees, what they did with Stanton, famous last words but that’s the player that almost can’t fail,” Trump, who was born and raised in Queens, said on the new WABC-AM show with Sid Rosenberg and Bernard McGuirk. “People have said that about players before only to have them bust, but I think that he’s gonna be great.”

When the hosts reminded Trump of his box seats at both Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, he acknowledged he purposely opted for the “political” answer because he’s a fan of both the Mets’ and Yankees’ owners.

“You’re gonna have two exciting teams and I want them both to do well,” Trump said. “In the old days I wouldn’t have answered the question that way, I would’ve told you. But look, I really like the Wilpons a lot and [Yankees president] Randy Levine and the Steinbrenners, these are phenomenal people.

“So, I’ll take a pass, but I really enjoy both teams a lot.”

Yankees are NYC’s favorite baseball team — even in Queens — April 3, 2018

Yankees are NYC’s favorite baseball team — even in Queens

By Chris Perez


When it comes to baseball pride in the Big Apple, the Yankees rule the roost, with 53 percent of local MLB fans rooting for the Bronx Bombers and 34 percent cheering the Mets, a new Quinnipiac poll has found.

The Amazin’s don’t even have home-field advantage this year, as 45 percent of baseball fans living in Queens cheer the Yankees, compared with 40 percent backing the Mets, according to the poll released Monday.

Manhattanite fans don’t really like the Mets, either, with 36 percent backing them versus 47 percent for the Yankees.

And the Yanks dominate on Staten Island, 61 to 36 percent, and in their home borough of The Bronx, 73 to 16 percent.

“With all that home-run firepower, the baby Bombers rule the city — for now,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

“When you got the long ball going out of the stadium, even people who don’t know much about baseball turn their heads. But hope springs eternal in the spring — 162 games later, who knows?”

New Yorkers could be accused of being fair-weather fans.

Last year — with the Amazin’s coming off a National League pennant in 2015 and a wildcard-winning 2016 — Quinnipiac data found 45 percent of local fans preferred the Mets to the Yanks.

The Mets tanked last season, while the Yankees powered their way back into postseason play.

“What you’re seeing is early optimism for a long-ball-hitting team and a new manager,” Malloy said of the Yanks. “It’s a fresh, young team . . . It’s a legendary franchise, which is part of the fabric of the city . . . and they hit home runs.”

After the Mets and Yankees, the next two most popular teams in New York are the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, at 3 percent and 1 percent, respectively, according to the poll.

They were also the second most popular teams in 2017 followed by the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians.

This year’s Yankee love crosses gender lines, with male fans picking the team 56 to 32 percent and female fans 50 to 36 percent.

The results came as snow delayed both teams’ games Monday.

“While not as good as peanuts and cracker jacks at the ballpark, this will get the @Yankees vs @Mets trash talk going,” tweeted NY1 political commentator Gerson Borrero.

With a 3.6-point margin of error, this year’s survey polled 1,230 local adults from March 22 to 27 via landline and cellphone.

A total of 41 percent identified themselves as fans of the sport, indicating they were “very interested” or “somewhat interested” in Major League Baseball.

Yankees’ announcer John Sterling responds to haters on his Giancarlo Stanton home run call — March 31, 2018

Yankees’ announcer John Sterling responds to haters on his Giancarlo Stanton home run call


New York Yankees announcer John Sterling in his booth before a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox Friday, Sept. 25, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in New York.

By Brendan Kuty

TORONTO — Get used to John Sterling‘s home run call for Giancarlo Stanton.

It’s here to stay.

“It’s amazing,” Sterling said of the stir the call caused. “I’m sticking with it.”

Sterling, the Yankees‘ radio voice, will continue to say “Non si puo de stoparlo!” each time Stanton homers, the way he did twice in Thursday’s 6-1 win over the Blue Jays, his first game in pinstripes.

Sterling said he started trying to figure out what he’d use for Stanton’s call immediately after the Yankees traded for him in December.

He’s known for his pipes but also known for his over-the-top home run calls, which included “An A-Bomb! For A-Rod” for Alex Rodriguez and “Bern, baby, Bern!” for Bernie Williams.

So Sterling called Berlitz Learning Center, a language learning school, and asked for a phrase that rhymed with Giancarlo, and also jibbed with hitting a home run

Three days later, someone from the school called with two suggestions. He picked one and rolled with it.

Sterling said he was surprised by the reaction to the call but likes that it’s far different than what anyone expected.

Before Friday’s game, Stanton said he hadn’t heard the call.

Days ago, Sterling told the New York Times that he was a bit worried about how the call would be received.

“This one is so different,” he said, according to the Times. “It’s an Italian phrase that rhymes. I don’t know if anyone will get it. I’m really worried. Well, not really worried. In fact, I’m not worried. Let’s say I’m mildly concerned.

“Boy, I hope it works. It may not.”

The Dellin Betances’ worries follow him into new season — March 30, 2018

The Dellin Betances’ worries follow him into new season

By Dan Martin

dellin sucks

TORONTO — After a mostly gruesome end to 2017, Dellin Betances just wanted to get off to a good start Thursday.

Instead, Kevin Pillar drilled the first pitch of the season by Betances over the fence in center field.

It was just about the only thing that didn’t go right in the Yankees’ 6-1 Opening Day win over Toronto at Rogers Centre and Betances was more pleased by how he bounced back from the homer than he was disappointed that he gave it up.

“He ambushed the first pitch,” Betances said. “I was trying to groove one in there and I didn’t think he would swing. He put a good swing on that. The good thing was that I was able to slow myself down after that, where at times last year, I would speed things up. I was able to make pitches.”

Betances recovered to get the next three batters, but not without some help — and luck.

Tyler Wade, a defensive replacement at second because of his range, went far to his right to get to Aledmys Diaz’s grounder up the middle for the first out. Devon Travis followed by lacing one to first, but Neil Walker was able to snag it for the second out before Betances got Josh Donaldson to pop out in foul territory to end the eighth inning.

Betances was also aided by the fact the Yankees led 5-0 when he entered the game thanks to a powerful showing by the offense and 5 ²/₃ scoreless innings from Luis Severino and another 1 ¹/₃ from Chad Green.

The right-hander thought he was safe throwing a 95-mph fastball down the middle to Pillar, but he was wrong.

Betances gave up just three homers last season, but suffered through a brutal stretch in September that made him little more than an afterthought in the playoffs — especially after he walked the only two batters he faced against the Indians in Game 4 of the ALDS.

Betances sounded convinced the Pillar homer was just a hiccup.

“My plan is being consistent and attacking the strike zone,’’ Betances said. “Obviously, you don’t want to start the year with a first-pitch homer, but I didn’t think he would swing right away like that. … This year I’m doing a better job of breathing, taking my time and trusting my delivery. I put in a lot of work this year in the offseason and I felt really good in the spring. As long as I trust it and trust both my pitches, I think this year will be a success.”

Why Yankees’ Sonny Gray could be on verge of career season — March 27, 2018

Why Yankees’ Sonny Gray could be on verge of career season

Sonny Gray

Yankees starting pitcher Sonny Gray allowed one run over five innings in a win over the Atlanta Braves on Monday night in Atlanta

By Randy Miller

ATLANTA — Right-hander Sonny Gray seemed to take exception to a question about his role this year after he completed a standout spring training with a strong outing in the Yankees‘ final game before Opening Day, a 5-1 win over the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.

Lined up to start the Yankees’ fourth game of the season Sunday in Toronto, Gray doesn’t want to be known as a No. 4 starter after being the Oakland Athletics ace in recent years.

“I don’t think where you’re starting the season or what game you’re pitching (matters),” Gray said after lowering his ERA to 1.98 with a one-run, five-inning outing in which he allowed three hits, struck out seven and didn’t walk anyone. “I have extremely high expectations for myself. Whenever I go out there and throw, I expect to be great.”

The Yankees would settle for very good. That’s what they were hoping to get last July when they gave up three elite prospects to get Gray, a 2015 AL All-Star who has a 125-123 record and 3.93 ERA over five big-league seasons.

Gray gave them a lot of mediocracy late last season, as he was 4-7 with a 3.72 ERA in 11 starts for the Yankees before having one good start and one bad one in the postseason.

The 28-year-old Nashville native has been very good this spring going 2-0 in four starts while allowing four runs, three earned, over 13 2/3 innings with 16 strikeouts.

“I think it’s probably by far the best spring I’ve had and it’s probably the best I feel coming out of a spring as well,” Gray said.

Gray expects to be better this season because he’s better adjusting to being a Yankee.

“Being around the guys all spring and just being here for a whole spring to get ready, I feel way more comfortable and ready,” Gray said.

Manager Aaron Boone thinks the comfort issue can be huge for Gray.

“No question,” he said. “It’s a lot when you go somewhere at the trade deadline with all of the adjustments outside of just the baseball and the field.

“So I think just coming in and knowing the guys and being much more comfortable, being in a good place, having that relationship already with (pitching coach) Larry (Rothschild) … hopefully his familiarity and his comfort level with his teammates and the organization will just allow him to flourish.”

Boone is more optimistic after seeing Gray look so good this spring.

“Man, I thought he really started to build some momentum the last couple of starts,” he said. “He threw in that minor-league game (last week) and was really good and I thought (Monday) was great. I thought his fastball was really good. His breaking ball was there. He was really pitch efficient.

“A good final start for him going into the season. I’m really excited about that. He set a great tone, too. I thought he worked quick. He pounded the zone. That was a really nice outing for him.”

Gray wants outings like this to be the norm. He was consistently good when he was healthy in Oakland and he’s confident he’ll be consistently good again.

“I feel really good with where I’m at,” Gray said. “My body feels really good and my arm feels great and I’m ready to go.”


Why Neil Walker is debuting for Yankees at 1st base instead of 2nd base — March 16, 2018

Why Neil Walker is debuting for Yankees at 1st base instead of 2nd base

neil walker

Neil Walker will make his Yankees debut on Friday night against the Houston Astros.

TAMPA — With each passing day, it’s looking more and more like impressive youngin’ Tyler Wade is going to begin the season as theYankees‘ starting second baseman.

If you missed it, you should have seen Wade showing great range to take away two hits Thursday with diving stops in the first-base hole and up the middle in the Yankees’ 9-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. And his lefty-on-lefty walk facing fireballer closer Felipe Rivero in the fourth inning was almost as impressive because he dug right back in there after a 100-mph, 1-2 fastball just missed his head.

Book it. Wade is going to be the Yankees’ starter at second when they open March 29 in Toronto even though he’s a .155 hitter with 58 career at-bats as a big leaguer in 30 games last season.

From reading the coaches-speak tealeaves, second base might be Wade’s to lose until Yankees’ No. 1 prospect Gleyber Torres becomes Major League ready, as a matter of fact.

As for the Yankees’ new switch-hitting second baseman with power who joined them this week on a one-year, $4-million contract, Neil Walker probably will start out as a part-time player.

After three practice days, Walker will debut for the Yankees playing first base in Friday night’s 6:35 game in Tampa against the World Series champion Houston Astros.

Walker is a proven big leaguer with good seasons on his resume, but his status until this week as an unsigned free agent has him behind even though he recently spent two weeks in Bradenton, Fla., training with others in his situation.

So early on in the regular season, Walker probably will get some starts at second, he’ll play a little first when Greg Bird sits against tough lefties and he’ll maybe play a little third for Brandon Drury against righties.

“We’ll try and get him in some games at second and third, which is what he did over on the minor league side (on Wednesday),” manager Aaron Boone said. “I think he played half at third, half at second. This is just another part of the puzzle where we slot the at-bats on a given day. (Friday) being at first, more a coincidence.”

It’s also a billboard screaming, “WADE IS THE STARTER!”

It wouldn’t be surprising if Walker becomes the starter at second in time, but probably only if it’s obvious that he should be there over Wade.

“I weigh it all,” Boone said. “I look at it as we have two really good players there that can impact our club in different ways. I think the versatility of both guys in different ways adds to our dynamic, hopefully.”

Walker is scheduled to play five or six innings on Friday. After signing on Monday, he took BP and fielded grounders on Tuesday, he had four at-bats playing seven innings in a minor-league game on Wednesday and he took BP again Thursday.

“I think the good thing when I checked in with him (Thursday) morning is how good he felt coming in,” Boone said. “He was actually surprised he felt as good as he did. I think that’s a tribute to the shape he came in. With the (free agents camp) stuff, he felt like he was in a good place physically. So far the first few days we’ve had him, that’s pretty evident.”

Yankees’ Billy McKinney putting on shows to ‘catch eye’ of Aaron Boone — March 8, 2018

Yankees’ Billy McKinney putting on shows to ‘catch eye’ of Aaron Boone

Billy McKinney

Outfielder-first baseman prospect Billy McKinney was first on the Yankees in RBIs and walks, and was tied for first in homers through Wednesday.

By Randy Miller

PORT. ST. LUCIE, Fla. Yankees outfielder prospect Billy McKinney kept telling himself to calm down as he was at the plate in the eighth inning Wednesday with the bases loaded, two outs and his team down a run to the Mets.

“In that scenario, I was trying to take deep breaths, not let the scenario get to me and hit the ball hard somewhere, somehow,” McKinney said.

Facing Corey Taylor in a righty pitcher vs. lefty hitter situation, McKinney was thrown a 1-1 changeup that was low.

“I thought it was a good pitch,” McKinney said.

McKinney went down to get it and rocketed a blast to right that exited First Data Field for his fourth homer of the spring, this one a game-changing grand slam.

The Yankees suddenly were up three runs after beginning the inning down three, and they would go on to beat the Mets, 11-4.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone loved McKinney’s at-bat.

He also thought McKinney did a good job working walks in his at-bats before and after the grand slam.

“It’s just quality at-bat after quality at-bat,” Boone said. “He had a strikeout (in Tuesday’s game) where I thought he actually worked a work.”

Boone didn’t stop there …

“The way that he runs the bases, the way that he gets his leads … The ability to show now that he can play a little base, and he’s played it well, so that just adds to his versatility. He’s really impressed me all the way around.”

A former No. 1 draft pick who was traded from Oakland Athletics to the Chicago Cubs to the Yankees before he was out of Double-A, McKinney is having a great camp. The Texan is hitting in .313 in 10 games with a team-high 11 RBIs in just 16 at-bats, and his four homers are tied with third baseman prospect Miguel Andujar for the team lead.

His six walks also lead the team and are proof that he’s having quality at-bats.

“I’m trying to,” McKinney said. “Everybody is trying to. I’m trying to see stuff and get a good pitch to hit. That’s the goal. Just kind of let the game come to you. I’ve been trying to take that approach.”

Very humble, McKinney is downplaying the added power that he’s showing this spring after hitting a career-best 16 homers last season playing 69 games for Double-A Trenton and 55 for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

“I don’t really know what to say about that,” McKinney said. “I try to put a good swing on it every time and if it goes, that’s great. Andujar should be the talk. He’s doing way better than me.”

Not really. Andujar was scorching a few days ago, but his average is down to .308 after an 0-for-4 showing on Wednesday.

McKinney is the hot one now, as he’s 5-for-10 with two homers in his last six games, with most of the hits coming off the bench.

McKinney, 23, probably is ticketed for a return to Triple-A, but he now has a possible path to a first big-league opportunity by Opening Day due to spring injuries to outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury (oblique) and Clint Frazier (concussion).

“I’m just playing every day and letting the chips fall,” McKinney said. “Hopefully Clint and Jacoby get healthy as soon as possible. Nobody wants them to be hurt. This team has so much talent. It’s incredible. I’m just trying to play well.”

McKinney is thriving in his latest opportunity to make a good first impression.

He felt that way when he was drafted 24th overall by the Athletics in 2013, then again when he was traded to the Cubs during the 2014 season, then again when he was traded to the Yankees midway through 2016.

Now in his second full season as Yankees prospect, McKinney is flourishing in front of his organization’s new manager and coaching staff.

“At-bat quality, the power that he’s shown obviously and the versatility … he’s somebody that certainly has caught my eye,” Boone said.

Hearing that made McKinney smile.

“That’s an honor, and I’m very thankful to (Boone) for saying that,” McKinney said. “Everybody is trying to put a good impression in. New people, new staff and they’ve been doing a great job having us have fun. It’s been a great camp.”



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