Yankee memories for Molina, Cervelli

Toronto Blue Jays catcher Jose Molina gestures towards the Jays dug-out during a baseball game...

Toronto Blue Jays catcher Jose Molina gestures towards the Jays dug-out during a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit, Michigan, June 27, 2011. (REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)

Bob Elliott, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 3:11 PM ET

Jose Molina saw his former New York Yankee teammate Francisco Cervelli near the batting cage at Yankee Stadium this weekend.

“I never showed you that,” Molina said to Cervelli.

Molina was referring to highlights from Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

Cervelli had homered off John Lackey in the fifth inning, and when Cervelli’s home run trot ended he stepped on the plate and clapped his hands hard in front of Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Next time up in the seventh inning, Lackey drilled Cervelli. Cervelli pointed his bat at Lackey.

The Yankees accused Lackey of throwing at their catcher.

Oh really?

Molina and Cervelli were with the Yankees in 2008-09. Eleven years older, Molina played the role of the mentor.

“I told him he’s not going to play for the same team for his whole career, that seldom happens,” Molina said. “You want to be a guy who steps in to hit or gets to first, and the guy from the other team says ‘hey buddy, what’s up buddy, how’s the family?’

“Don’t be a player that everyone hates.”

When the hyper Cervelli homered against Ricky Romero, a two-run shot to left, in the third inning Saturday afternoon he sprinted around the bases and had his head down as he touched the plate and headed to the first-base dugout.

The best? Bobby Smyth, Joey Votto’s former Etobicoke coach, tells a story about meeting legendary coach Jimmy Reese, who played for the 1930-31 New York Yankees. Reese’s standard line was how he “used to room with Babe Ruth...or at least his suitcase.”

Smyth had read where Reese was asked “You saw Bob Feller, Nolan Ryan and Sam McDowell, who threw the hardest?“

His answer was D) None of the above...Walter Johnson.

Smyth asked Reese about the quote and Reese, who played mostly losing teams with the Washington Senators, answered, “When he pitched it did not matter, he threw with a sling-shot almost side-arm delivery which caused the ball to move in different directions. He had pinpoint control with a nasty streak that he did not have to show too often.

“When batters faced him they were very respectful. He was in complete charge with everybody.”

How hard did Johnson throw?

“There were not any radar guns available, but judging from what I’ve seen, probably just under 100. Breaking ball? Unhittable. Change-up? What for.”

Johnson pitched 21 years in the majors and allowed 1,000 less hits than Innings pitched, which is like five years of not allowing a base hit. Johnson worked 5,914 1/3 innings, allowing 4,913 hits for the Senators. He won 417 games including 110 shut outs. He won 20 or more games 12 times in 21 seasons, including 36 in 1913.

Only twice did he pitch in the World Series, winning in 1924 and losing the next October.

Memories: No park evokes memories like Yankee Stadium...even if the memories and mind pictures have moved from across the street.

There was right fielder Andruw Jones diving into the seats trying to catch a fly ball off the bat of Yunel Escobar Saturday afternoon.

There he was Friday leaping and reaching over the fence to steal a homer from Jose Bautista.

It was at the old ball yard we first saw Jones, then a hyped 19-year-old playing centre field for the Atlanta Braves in the opener of the 1996 World Series.

Jones went deep in the second off Andy Pettitte and again in the third against reliever Brian Boehringer, knocking in five runs, in a 12-1 Atlanta win. He became the youngest player to homer in Series history, bumping Mickey Mantle from the record books.

When the Braves signed Jones on the island of Curacao off the coast of Venezuela, the Florida Marlins and the Jays offered Jones more dough.

Nope. Henry Jones, Andruw’s father said, he had give his word. He had with a hand-shake deal with Braves’ scouting director Paul Snyder.

Plus Andruw wanted to play for the Braves after viewing America’s Team on TBS.

Snyder called him the best prospect since Ken Griffey, Jr.

We asked several Braves that night they were doing when they were 19.

“Oxnard, Calif. junior college trying to get a team to look at me,” infielder Terry Pendleton said.

“Class-A Florence, S.C.,” Fred McGriff said.

“Instructional League after being sent down from Class-A,” Mark Wohlers said.

“Class-A Madison, Wisc.” Luis Polonia said.

“Class-D Tampa and struggling,” coach Pat Corrales said.

“Class-C Reno, worrying if I’d ever get a class-B contract,” manager Bobby Cox said that night.

Jones never became Mantle.

Jones never became Griffey.

Here we are 16 seasons later and Jones, now 34 and a backup outfielder with another team headed to post-season play, has played 2,088 games, with 418 homers, 1,250 RBIs and 152 stolen bases.

He’s a former National League rookie of the year, a five-time all-star and a 10-time gold glove winner.

Not Mantle, not Griffey, but a great career.

And an even better memory.

Skippers win: Doug Davis, Jays minor-league manager field co-ordinator, answered his phone driving through the Appalachian mountains of Virginia.

Driving to see the manager of the year?

“I could drive in a lot of directions and find one of those,” Davis joked.

New Hampshire’s Sal Fasano won the manager of the year in the double-A Eastern League, Dunedin’s Clayton McCullough won in the class-A Florida State League, Lansing’s Mike Redmond did the same in class-A Midwest League and Bluefield’s Dennis Holmberg was the managers of the year in the rookie-class Appalachian League.

Do managers have bonus clauses for such an award?

“Yes,” said field co-ordinator Davis, “but it’s one of those open-ended clauses, it’s up to the field co-ordinator to see if it is fulfilled.”

 

 


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