Making New Friends At Camp

February 12th, 2011 by Jane Heller


Every year when the Yankees start showing up in Tampa, I wonder what it’s like for the players. I’m not talking about whether Hughes intends to focus on his changeup or if Jeter is spending extra time in the batting cage with Kevin Long. I’m talking about who makes friends with whom. We already know Jeter and Posada are tight and that Swisher talks to anybody who’s breathing. But what about the new guys or even the new-ish guys? Inquiring minds want to know about the following…

Which player will Grandy hang out with this year? Last year he had Thames, his Tigers buddy.

Who will be Soriano’s interpreter? Cano used to fill the role for Melky, but he might be too cool for that now.

Who will look after Justin Maxwell? We don’t have any other former Nats, do we?

Will anybody be nice to Colon and Garcia? Or will the players assume the two pitchers will be gone by March and figure they’re not worth getting to know?

Ditto: Mark Prior.

Will Posada extend a warm welcome to Russell Martin or view him as a rival?

I guess I shouldn’t worry; I’m not their mother, for God’s sake. Still, I like when everybody gets along with everybody. I just do. And hopefully Girardi will plan another one of his “bonding” adventures for the players.

(Photo: Brown W. Cannon III)


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21 Responses to “Making New Friends At Camp”

  1. Melissa says:

    I always wonder about this as well. One of the young players (can’t remember who) said ARod was really helpful and welcoming to the new guys. of course the press won’t really report that one!

    As for Posada, he has a role model to follow. When he came up, The Yankees current catcher mentored him and helped him adjust and taught him everything, knowing full well he was helping his replacement. And us old folk all know who that catcher was- Joe Girardi.

  2. Catherine says:

    You said it yourself. No one has to worry. Swish will talk to anyone that’s breathing. And he’s not even a total stickler on that point. The real question is if they want to talk to him…LOL.

  3. Melissa says:

    This just reminded me of something when I was young. One of the first Hispanic players the Yankees got was Celerino Sanchez. The announcers mentioned he didn’t know English, so I always used to worry about him. Who did he talk to? Wasn’t he lonely? Was he able to order food?

    Now when I watch the bench, I wonder if the guys speak English or Spanish. After watching the movie Sugar, I feel especially happy that they have someone to speak to.

  4. Jane Heller says:

    I remember when the young player said that about A-Rod, Melissa, and I also remember being surprised. Was it Colin Curtis? Someone in that group of minor leaguers? Or maybe Pena? So right about Posada being mentored by Girardi, but is he ready to mentor Martin/Cervelli? He and Joe have very different personalities. I hope he’ll be OK with the DH role, I really do. I loved “Sugar,” as you know. It really brings home the fact that some of the Latin players are lost when they come to the states, never mind the majors, and have to fit right in. Not always easy, although nowadays there are plenty of other Spanish speaking players to help out. The ones I worry about are the Asian players. Remember how Wang only had his translator to talk to?

    Swish will certainly fill the ambassador role, Catherine. I wonder if he speaks Spanish though? His ability to reach out to all the news players could be limited if not.

  5. Paul says:

    Sometimes teams are better off when everyone’s fighting. In my experience, losers get along well because no one cares. Would’ve been interesting if Pavano had come back.

  6. Roberta says:

    Well … I have read all your previous posts, Jane, and I hope that by continuing to read your blog I will become a better informed She Fan.
    I heard about CC’s weight loss and Joba’s weight gain. As you might know (having a cat named Joba) I love the kid and would like to see him regain that power and focus that made him so special. Maybe the new pitching coach can help him out. ( oh … and I personally can’t stand AJ …)
    Regarding making friends … Nick Swisher will certainly be a friend to ALL! He doesn’t care if anyone WANTS to talk to him … he’ll talk and talk! Gotta love the kid!

  7. Jane Heller says:

    Well, sometimes, Paul. The Yankees did well during the Bronx Zoo era after all. But for the most part I have to believe that cohesiveness is better than chaos.

    Glad to help in your education process, Roberta. LOL. I was on the scene in 2007, as you know from reading my “She-Fan” book, and was witness to Joba’s bursting on the scene that season and taking baseball by storm. Such talent. Such fire. Was it too much for him at such a young age? Who knows at this point. I, too, hope he can be successful this year. And judging by today’s NY Times article about Larry Rothschild (wish I had the link handy), I’m very encouraged. He sounds like a total pro and the right man for the job. Monday is the big day. That’s tomorrow!

  8. Jane,
    I think that since Rafael Soriano still rents ahome in the Tampa Bay area, he might have a dinner party serving some of his own great cooking as an introduction to his new teammates. When Soriano was with the Rays, he used to bring him a homemade meal for the team every Tuesday evening for them to taste the delicacies and spice that would make his Dominican mom proud.
    I never got to sampole the great cuisine, but I have heard rave reviews about his coconut chicken curry and some sort of coconut/cane sugar/chocolate confection he makes that is gobbled up like….sunflower seeds.
    Who knows, maybe Jeter will have a impromptu get together catered BBQ welcome retreat to his new humble Davis Island abode, just look out for some lingering construction dust in the punch bowl.

  9. Jane Heller says:

    That would be lovely if Soriano had everybody over for dinner, Renegade. His cooking sounds right up some of the Yankees’ alley (Cano especially). I’ve never heard of Jeter hosting his teammates – he’s pretty private and sticks to Starbucks with Posada – but maybe he’ll show everybody the new casa. I’d certainly be interested in getting a look inside.

  10. Roberta says:

    My husband just handed me the Times article (For Yankees’ New Coach, a Daunting To-Do List) and New York Post (Yanks need a big Burn’-Around … With no Cliff or Andy, AJ fix is top priority) I am doing my reading!

  11. Jane Heller says:

    Oh, good. You got the Times article, Roberta! That’s the one that impressed me. Doesn’t he seem much more qualified than Dave Eiland was?

  12. Scott says:

    My only fear about seeing Jeter’s house is that you could be lost for weeks, maybe months, and no one would ever be able to find you! LOL! Seriously, I am hoping the new batch of Yanks can bond quickly with the old guard to make for a cohesive, energetic and fun group come April. Hopefully, we’ll see a happy A.J. introducing his teammates to his pies with maybe one or two headed in his direction.

  13. Jane Heller says:

    Yeah, his house is LARGE, Scott – very easy to get lost in, I’m sure. What he needs with all that square footage I have no idea, but I hope he’s happy there. I like your optimism for the new batch of Yankees. The old guard is diminishing, so maybe it’ll be easier for the new guys to blend in. And yes, pies from A.J. will be a welcome sight indeed.

  14. Roberta says:

    As a teacher of children with learning disabilities who believes in individualized instruction (because we are all uniquely different!)… I was impressed with this: “If you come up through systems that gave cookie-cutter policies, it’s not what builds good athletes. The real good athletes sometimes do things differently. You have to decipher personality-wise, mechanics-wise…I have enough to individualize things. I’ve never done it any other way.”
    Yep … sounds good to me!
    And he’s a reader! He’s reading “The Path Between the Seas” by David McCullough. I wonder if he has read “Confessions of a She-Fan.”

  15. Jane Heller says:

    HAHAHA, Roberta. Somehow I doubt Larry has stumbled upon “She-Fan,” but I love that he’s a reader. And you’re so right about the need for individualized instruction. I was afraid, based on the last quote I read of his, that he was a one-size-fits-all kind of coach. Doesn’t sound like it at all now. I would guess that the pitchers will be receptive and maybe even enjoy working with him. Very impressed with your work with the children, btw.

  16. Sarah says:

    ‘Swisher talks to anybody who’s breathing’ Great line Jane, I found it so funny, probably because it’s true. Good old Swisher. :)
    You make a good point about Posada. We all know what a proud guy he is, and becoming the DH isn’t really something he’s excited about. I do think he’ll be a mentor to Martin and all our younger guys. That’s the way Girardi was with him and I believe he’ll do what’s best for the team.

  17. Jane Heller says:

    Glad to give you a laugh, Sarah. If Damon had come back, we would have had another world-class talker in the group! I hope you’re right about Posada. I’m sure he’ll get his chances to catch every now and then, but we really need him to mentor the younger guys while serving as our DH. It’s the last year of his contract. I’m sure he wants to have a really great season in case it’s his last.

  18. Virginia says:

    Jane: LOL wouldn’t it be funny if the Yankees traded Colon, Prior, Garcia, and all the other sub-par players for KING FELIX? Haha I’ll keep dreaming…for now, I’m just happy knowing that the baseball season is approaching!

  19. Virginia says:

    Jane: LOL wouldn’t it be funny if the Yankees traded Prior, Colon, Garcia, and the other sub-par players for KING FELIX? Haha…I’ll keep dreaming. For now, I’m just happy knowing that the baseball season is approaching!!!

  20. Kristen says:

    Swisher talks to anyone who’s breathing, LOL! …and Catherine beat me to the punch line :)

    I always wonder how a team gets along too and also prefer to think of the team having clubhouse harmony. I know everyone comes to Spring Training to work, but even as an adult you get those “first day of school jitters” on a new job and it’s nice to have someone to have lunch with. I assume it must be similar for baseball players. I seem to remember hearing the quote about A-Rod being a good mentor and teammate from an interview with Granderson. I remember it because the comment seemed very genuine and was not what I expected. It softened me up towards A-Rod quite a bit, actually – not that I was ever one of the outright haters, I just wasn’t particularly a fan.

  21. Jane Heller says:

    Yeah, keep dreaming, Virginia. That’s a really sweet dream. HAHA!

    That’s what I was worrying about, Kristen – those first day of school jitters. The players are only human so they must get at least a little bit nervous, right? Maybe it was Granderson who said A-Rod was a good mentor. I think the comment surprised a lot of people.