Yankees Pregame Notebook: For Old-Timers' sake

06/22/2014 12:37 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Former Yankee and 2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui waves to the crowd as he walks onto the field for Old-Timers' Day.(AP)
It's Old-Timers' Day in the Bronx, and before they kick off the series finale against Baltimore, the Yankees will welcome back nearly 50 members of the Yankees' family for an Old-Timers' celebration.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi is one of those old-timers - as is Orioles manager Buck Showalter - and for the skipper, it's a day that he relishes each year.

"I think it works so well here because of all the success that has taken place here and the people that still come back," he said, "and it means a lot to me to see these guys. I don't like to consider myself an old-timer - I don't think any of us ever want to feel that - but it does mean a lot. To see some of the guys that I played for, played with and managed that were champions is a thrill for me."

Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui are two of the three first-timers back this year, and for Girardi, having two guys who were key cogs on a World Series run just five seasons ago brings both a thrill and a sigh.

"Yeah, it is hard to consider them old-timers, and they're plenty younger than me," he laughed. "These are guys who were important parts of the 2009 World Series run, which really wasn't that long ago, but I guess for all of us there's a time where you retire and become old-timers."

That feeling is the same for several Yankees, veterans and youngsters alike.

"it's kind of good and bad that I get to see guys I played with playing on Old-Timers' Day; I don't know what that says about me, but it's fun to see them," said CC Sabathia. Rookie Dellin Betances, a Yankees fan as a child, added, "It's a huge thrill to go from being in the stands for David Wells' perfect game to being here watching him play."

In addition to the usual festivities, the Yankees will doubly honor one legend today when Rich "Goose" Gossage gets his plaque in Monument Park unveiled. Tino Martinez got the same honor on Saturday, and Sunday brings someone who was an important part of the Yankees' previous "dynasty years" full circle.

"Everybody knows the tradition here is like none other, and that's a testament to the organization; it's about legacies and history," Shawn Kelley said. "It's pretty neat, the history here and the caliber of players that are out there, and it's pretty special to be a part of it."

As for the game itself, the Yankees will be looking to finish this homestand with a 5-1 record, and they seemingly have the perfect guy on the mound in Masahiro Tanaka. The Japanese righty leads the AL in both wins (11) and ERA (1.99), and has spun 14 straight quality starts with the Yankees going 12-2 in those outings.

In a rotation full of flux, he's been an anchor, and to think, he's only a rookie.

"I don't know how many rookie pitchers have started off 11-1 and had an ERA where his is and the strikeouts…can you think of one?" Girardi asked the media when queried about Tanaka's success. "I can't really say he reminds me of anyone. Obviously you see other pitchers get off to starts like this, but none of them were rookies."

The Yankees hope he remains untouchable for at least one more day, as a win could push them within a half-game of first place in the AL East, while a loss would drop them into a virtual tie with Baltimore for second.

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