Yanks deliver rings to familiar faces
Now with A's, Gaudin and Ramirez thrilled to get hardware
OAKLAND -- Manager Joe Girardi stowed a non-descript paper bag on the bench of the visitors' dugout on Tuesday until he spotted the two familiar faces he was looking for -- Chad Gaudin and Edwar Ramirez, now both wearing the green and gold of the Athletics.
And as Girardi dug his hands through that brown paper, both pitchers should have guessed what was coming their way -- a glittering 2009 World Series ring for each of the former Yankees, handsomely dressed in a wooden box.
Girardi halted the Yankees' stretching exercises on the field at the Oakland Coliseum and called the entire roster around for a special presentation, offering congratulations to both Gaudin and Ramirez as they accepted their prizes.
"First-class, and I didn't expect anything different," Gaudin said. "It was great to have everyone there and make it feel like home again. I was a little nervous, a little chillish, but it was a very special moment. I'm going to cherish it forever."
"Everybody wants something like that," Ramirez said. "It's great. It's exactly what I wanted. I know everybody here, and I feel real, real happy."
As the Yankees applauded, Mariano Rivera gave Ramirez a playful whack in the head with his glove and Damaso Marte removed his cap to also hit Ramirez a few times -- rough-housing exercises that were repeated on numerous occasions within the confines of the Yankees' clubhouse.
Of course, the happy reunion lasted only a few moments before Gaudin and Ramirez were dispatched back to their side of the Coliseum. And not surprisingly, the cries to forget 2009 were launched by Chan Ho Park, a member of the Phillies team that the Yankees defeated in six games.
"Hey, beat it," Park said. "We've got to stretch."
Yanks like 'havoc' Gardner causes
OAKLAND -- Showing up daily and expecting to be in the lineup, Brett Gardner hasn't put too much stock into the idea that the Yankees would keep playing other hitters against left-handed pitching.
So Gardner arrived at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum on Tuesday expecting to see his name in the lineup, and it was. Gardner got the nod over Marcus Thames and Randy Winn against A's lefty Gio Gonzalez, earning his first start of the 2010 season against a southpaw.
"Obviously, I've had some at-bats against the guy, I feel comfortable against him and I'm excited about it," Gardner said. "You always hope that you're playing, and you have to come to the field expecting to play, so you're mentally ready. I'm definitely not surprised."
Gardner entered the game 1-for-2 with a triple and a walk in three big league plate appearances against Gonzalez, all coming in a game last July 25 in which Gardner fractured his left thumb while sliding into second base.
But Gardner has also faced Gonzalez in the Minor Leagues numerous times, a fact Yankees manager Joe Girardi was not necessarily aware of. Girardi's decision to start Gardner was based more upon his hot start; he entered Tuesday hitting .333 (10-for-30).
"We consider Gardy to be an everyday player," Girardi said. "We believe that he can play every day, but we wanted to get Marcus in the mix and Randy in the mix. Gardy is going well, and we'll go with that. ... We like what he's doing a lot. He's caused a lot of havoc for other clubs."
One of the aspects Girardi loves about Gardner's game is the fact that every time he hits the ball on the ground, there is a chance that he will wind up on first base.
"I'd like to be hitting line drives and hitting the ball hard," Gardner said. "Obviously for me, it's definitely more beneficial if I miss on top and put the ball on the ground than if I put the ball in the air. If I can keep the ball on the ground, I can find a way to get on base."
CC takes time to revisit youth
OAKLAND -- The Yankees might have been off Monday, but it was a home game under the lights for CC Sabathia.
The left-handed ace fired a ceremonial pitch for the first North Vallejo Little League night game played at refurbished Thurmon Field, where Sabathia learned to play ball. Sabathia underwrote the rebuilding of the diamond earlier this year.
"It certainly was a change of pace for me to be able to take in a night game in the middle of the Major League Baseball season and not have to be in uniform," Sabathia said.
The efforts to revitalize the field culminated in late January with the opening of a new field that includes new irrigation; new infield dirt; new bases, pitching rubber and home plate; new dugouts; a black vinyl coated chain-link fence and 37,000 square feet of new sod.
"I think it's really important," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Our players have done a wonderful job in the community and helping out. I love what CC does. He's a very giving guy."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.