A-Rod proud to have learned from Piniella
Yanks' third baseman full of 'admiration' for veteran skipper
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez considers himself fortunate to have called Lou Piniella his first big league manager, and the slugger believes that the way he plays -- in one way or another -- still bears Piniella's signature.
Rodriguez was effusive with praise for Piniella on Tuesday after the Cubs' manager announced his intention to retire at the conclusion of this season. Rodriguez played under Piniella for six years with the Mariners, first appearing as an 18-year-old shortstop and enjoying five All-Star appearances there.
"I can't say enough good things about him," Rodriguez said. "For me, I needed to have a disciplinarian like him, coming out of high school into the big leagues. It was exactly what I needed. I have a lot to be grateful and appreciative of, from what he taught me."
Rodriguez said that Piniella's strength was in teaching the game, especially on offense.
"Lou taught every facet of the game," Rodriguez said. "Pretty much whatever I know now, Lou has a big mark on it."
When asked how he would describe the experience of playing for Piniella to another player, Rodriguez laughed and replied, "I have a lot of Lou stories, but I don't think I can share most of them with you. They're pretty funny.
"For me, it was the tough love. I was sent down five times in one year, and I take that as a positive, because he kept believing in me and bringing me back up. Overall, to me, it was his passion and love for winning. He loved winning as much as breathing."
Now that Piniella is officially wrapping up a managerial career that included stops with the Yankees, Reds (with whom he won the 1990 World Series), Mariners, Rays and Cubs, Rodriguez said that he expects Piniella's next stop to be a date in Cooperstown, N.Y.
"To me, he's a Hall of Fame manager," Rodriguez said. "He's a rare combination of a guy that played and won championships and was proven and tough. I just have a lot of love and admiration for him. It was the greatest experience for me to play for him."
-- Bryan Hoch
Feeling better, Pettitte eyes quick return
NEW YORK -- Two days after suffering a Grade 1 strain of his left groin, Andy Pettitte was back at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, coping with the painful interruption of an All-Star season.
Pettitte said he felt a lot better than he did on Sunday, but the left-hander acknowledged that he still feels pain "a tiny bit" while walking. He did appear to have a slight hitch in his step.
"Hopefully it gets to the point where I'm not feeling anything [and] they let me go," Pettitte said. "But I also know I can't re-injure this thing. I have to take the time to rest it right now. That's going to be the tough part."
Pettitte suffered the injury on a 2-1 pitch to Kelly Shoppach in the third inning of the Yankees' 9-5 win on Sunday. Pettitte said there was a "burning sensation" on the pitch and that a subsequent warmup pitch confirmed that he couldn't throw any more that day.
The Grade 1 strain is expected to keep Pettitte out of action for four to five weeks. The left-hander hopes it doesn't take that long.
"I'm thinking three [weeks]," Pettitte said. "When I hear four to five, I'm like, 'Oh gosh.' I hope it's not that long. I hope I heal quick."
It's an especially frustrating time for Pettitte to suffer the injury. The left-hander has been a better second-half pitcher throughout his career, and the few injuries the durable veteran has suffered have tended to occur in the first half of the year. Only once in his career has Pettitte made fewer than 13 starts after the All-Star break.
The injury also interrupts an excellent season for the 38-year-old, who is 11-2 with a 2.88 ERA. The Yankees have won 15 of his 18 starts this season.
Pettitte hopes he can return strong for the final month and a half of the season.
"I felt like I was putting together a pretty solid season for us," Pettitte said. "I was just looking to have a great second half, because I usually do. Now, I have to say, 'Hopefully I can have a great last five, six or seven weeks of the season.'"
-- Tim Britton
Yanks give renewed Albaladejo a chance
NEW YORK -- Jonathan Albaladejo's struggles during Spring Training seemed discouraging at the time, but the right-hander's high Grapefruit League ERA prompted him to make changes that have paid major dividends.
Albaladejo had an unsightly 33.75 ERA in five appearances in Spring Training, allowing 10 earned runs on 16 hits in 2 2/3 innings, leaving the right-hander wondering when he'd be able to get out of a frame unscathed.
"I bet nobody here has seen anything like that -- it was terrible," Albaladejo said. "I couldn't get an out. ... It was really bad. All I was saying the whole time was, 'Thank God these numbers don't go on the back of my card.'"
While he did not challenge for a roster spot on the Yankees, as he had in making the Opening Day cut in 2009, Albaladejo was prompted to experiment with a four-seam fastball that reopened the door to the big leagues on Tuesday.
"I started throwing my four-seamer a lot more and was more under control with my fastball and curveball," Albaladejo said. "I guess that's the only thing different I'm doing. It seems to be working."
Albaladejo was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday to replace injured lefty Andy Pettitte on the Yankees' roster. Albaladejo was 2-1 with 31 saves and a 0.96 ERA in 41 appearances at Triple-A, walking 12 and striking out 61 in 46 2/3 innings.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi called Albaladejo's numbers "outstanding" and said that the team would use him primarily for one-inning situations, as he'd been closing for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"He gives us another guy in the bullpen that we can turn to," Girardi said.
-- Bryan Hoch
Mitre in line to start in place of Pettitte
NEW YORK -- Sergio Mitre will be filling in for Andy Pettitte on Saturday, with the Royals serving as his opponent, but the right-hander says he can't worry about replacing the Yankees' injured 11-game winner.
"I'm trying to fill my own spot right now," Mitre said. "I've been out for a while."
Mitre made his final rehab appearance for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday, allowing three runs on four hits in a 4 2/3-inning start against Gwinnett.
Coming back from a strained left oblique that knocked him out in June, Mitre worked up to 73 pitches in the outing and reported no further injury problems. The Yankees have expressed hope that Mitre can hold the fort until Pettitte returns from a strained left groin in four to five weeks.
"Definitely, it's going to be a tough loss for the next month, so I'm not trying to fill anybody's shoes, especially his -- they're pretty big," said Mitre, who is 0-1 with a 2.88 ERA in 12 games (two starts) this year for New York.
"I'm just going out there and trying to give the team a chance to win and put up zeroes. With the type of offense these guys put up, a couple of zeroes should work."
-- Bryan Hoch
Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson is serving as the national spokesman for First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign, with the goal of solving the challenge of childhood obesity. ... CC Sabathia will turn 30 on Wednesday and leads all Major Leaguers with 148 wins before his 30th birthday. The last big leaguer with more was Greg Maddux, who had 151 before turning 30. ... The Yankees entered play on Tuesday with a 3-3 record against the Angels this year and have not won a season series against the Halos since 2003.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.