Feb. 24 -- Old Stomping Grounds

3:27 PM

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Sick of the weather up there, I figured I'd head on down for a little spring training trip this week. Just because nobody's ordering me to go this year doesn't mean I can't go on my own, right? Now, the trick is to pick up enough freelance assignments while I'm down here to make the trip profitable. Or at least, keep it from being a loss.

So I went over to George M. Steinbrenner Field (nee Legends Field) today and hung around with the Yankees. Here are a couple of tidbits I got out of the day:

-You don't have to spend but 20 minutes in Yankees camp to realize that Alex Rodriguez has swallowed it. All anybody's talking about is A-Rod -- How's he look? How's he feeling? How's he going to handle a spring training road game tomorrow in Dunedin? He's supposed to meet soon (he claims to know not when) with MLB investigators about his admitted steroid use. He leaves next week to join the Dominican Republic team for the World Baseball Classic. Hitting coach Kevin Long told me A-Rod's dealing with a hip problem that's affecting his batting stance -- making it more open than it's supposed to be. Basically, the guy's got a lot of crap going on. And no matter what anybody says publicly, I can assure you there's a real concern around the Yankees about how A-Rod is going to perform given the circumstances in which he now finds himself.

-Bernie Williams is here, working out with the team in preparation for his own turn on the Puerto Rico team in the WBC. Williams was hitting long home runs in batting practice and said he feels good and hopes "to catch someone's eye" during the WBC -- meaning, impress a big-league team enough that he can make a comeback and play Major League Baseball again. "I feel great, and I got the go-ahead from the family, the wife and kids to give it a shot. So I'm going to give it a shot," he said. I wish him well, because I like Bernie, but jeez...in a market where Bobby Abreu only got $5 million and Garret Anderson just signed for $2.5 million, it's tough to envision a big-league job for a 40-year-old Bernie Williams.

-The Yankees' three new star players may have contracts totaling nearly a half a billion dollars, but it appears the team is in luck, because they couldn't have given that nearly-half-a-billion to three more down-to-earth dudes. CC Sabathia spent most of his clubhouse time today hanging out among the relievers, way across the room from his corner locker, chatting about pitching and busting chops. And he just left with Nick Swisher and Brian Bruney to go fishing. Tino Martinez, here as a spring instructor, was raving about what a pleasure it's been to work with Mark Teixeira. And more than one person made a comment to me about AJ Burnett's work ethic and seriousness of purpose. Assuming health, the Yankees' big winter bucks appear to have been well spent. The last thing they'd need right now is one of the new guys coming in all high-maintenance and demanding a bunch of attention.

-I'm an idiot. This is the 10th year I've lived in the Northeast and covered spring training in Florida. Do you think I'd remember to bring allergy medicine and sunscreen by now? Yeah, well, you'd be wrong. And here I sit, sneezing and red-necked.

But I have to say, it was a fun, pleasant, productive day. Maybe absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

Heading down to Red Sox camp in Fort Myers on Wednesday. Catch me on "First Take" on ESPN2 at 10:25 am. We'll be talking about some of this stuff and some other stuff, too.

2 Responses to "Feb. 24 -- Old Stomping Grounds"

February 25, 2009 at 12:16 AM

I had no idea you had left the Star Ledger, but, as a result, I'm seriously considering dropping my subscription to the paper.

Some time ago you were gracious enough to answer a few questions for me on my blog - Bronx Liaison - and for that I again offer you my great appreciation.

I wish you the best with your future endeavors and suspect you will not be writing "for free" very long - particularly because your writing talent is matched by your ability to understand the direction in which journalism is heading.

I've already bookmarked your site and will visit it daily.

Tony G.
Anonymous said :
February 25, 2009 at 3:28 AM
This is why I miss you Dan.

While other writers are reporting what A-Rod is paying for rent on a NYC apt., you find out he is dealing with a hip issue.

To baseball fans, one of those things is important; the other is not.

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