Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Yay for Jaret! Yay for Gary!


It may not have been pretty; it may have required more runs than it should have; but the Yankees found a way to take the middle game of three up in Boston, 7-5.

Credit Jaret Wright for another impressive performance, no earned runs through five as he worked through a mini-jam and a real jam. Talking with my buddy Andy during the game, I suggested Torre lift Wright after six innings considering his past few appearances. He hasn’t had consistent work until recently, and as such his stamina isn’t at its peak. You can imagine my relief when I saw that Proctor was out to pitch the sixth.

[MORE]However, I watched the first six innings on GameCast, so I had no idea Wright’s departure was the result of a groin tweak. Doesn’t seem like it’s anything to worry about, or at least that’s what I gather by reading the game notes. There were some interesting dealings with the press on the part of Wright and Torre on the issue.

"I definitely wanted to keep going, but decided not to risk something bad happening," Wright said.

To me, this statement was quite impressive, considering what happened last April. If you remember, Wright was pitching and felt something pop in his shoulder in the second inning, but decided to keep his mouth shut. Four innings later, and he’s on the 60 day DL. Maybe Wright is maturing. Or maybe he’s just misleading us.

"He insisted on going back out," Torre said, "but we pretty much told him we didn't want him to do that. Maybe he has to break off the mound, then after all the work he'd done, it would be a step back."

Thankfully, it seems Torre and Guidry are taking a more aggressive approach in dealing with Wright. He’s transformed from “unusable bum” to “potential asset” before two months are up. I think he’ll prove a more than adequate replacement for Carl Pavano in the long haul.

The other story of the night, obviously, was the return of Gary Sheffield. The injury parasite making its rounds in the Yankees clubhouse has morphed into quite the premise for a story. A great team starts off well, but not great. One of their stars, a guy with a questionable character, goes down with an injury and kind of dogs it.

But then another key cog goes down. Unlike the first player, he’s an upstanding man. Also unlike the first player, his injury is rather serious, requiring surgery and plenty of recovery time.

In both their absences, the team just doesn’t look the same. They rally to improbably overcome two deficits, but in the first game against their rivals, they look lifeless. After the game, however, the first player makes a surprise appearance, saying he’ll play in the next game.

And while he may not have had a huge impact, the team finally feels whole again, even though the second player is still on the shelf. He’s there in spirit, however.

This story won’t come to an end for quite some time, but there are sure to be some subplots along the way. One such subplot could come tonight, with Randy Johnson taking the mound. If there was ever a time to snap out of his funk, it was a week ago. But I’ll be more than sated should he decide that tonight’s the night he becomes good old Randy.

But really, I’ll just be happy to see Sheff’s bat wagging.