A-Rod eager to reunite with Torre's staff
Yanks slugger offers little when asked about former skipper
PHOENIX -- Many of the Yankees have been looking ahead to this weekend since the schedule was released, knowing this will be their first opportunity to look into the visitors' dugout and see Joe Torre dressed head to toe in Dodgers blue.
Yet on an afternoon when all of the active members of Torre's last championship team glowed about his influence as a father figure, Alex Rodriguez hinted that all might not have been forgiven from their rocky time together in pinstripes. Rodriguez struck a hollow note, calling it "business at usual" to see Torre.
"I'm excited just to play a great team," Rodriguez said. "They've got a good team, and this is actually the part of Interleague that I do enjoy. I don't enjoy the [National League] East version; we see those guys way too often.
"As far as Interleague, this is really when the fans get a great treat. You can see how excited fans are here in Arizona, and I'm sure they're going to be very excited in L.A. I'm sure they've been promoting this great series for over six or eight months."
Rodriguez was much more enthusiastic in discussing the renewal of acquaintances with Dodgers coaches Don Mattingly and Larry Bowa, both of whom served on Torre's Yankees coaching staffs.
"You can't say enough great things about Donnie," Rodriguez said. "He was a class act and always really, really good to me. Bowa obviously left a mark on me as a player -- I had him [as a coach] in Seattle and then back in New York. He's taught me a lot about the game, and I know that Robbie [Cano] feels the same way. I'm excited to see those guys."
Mattingly was the Yankees' hitting coach from 2004-06, when he was promoted to become Torre's bench coach. Mattingly interviewed for the Yankees' managerial vacancy after '07, but when the job was offered to Joe Girardi, Mattingly headed west to serve as Torre's trusted lieutenant -- and wait for another managerial opportunity.
"There's no question Donnie can do whatever he wants in baseball -- coach, manage, general manager, front office," Rodriguez said. "He's just got a perfect demeanor, full of information, great knowledge. He was one of my role models growing up. He played the game the way every young child should want to play the game. I wish him well. I think he's in line and primed to get a great managing job this year."
A reporter then attempted to steer the line of questioning back to the original topic, asking how Torre's influence on Rodriguez compared to that of Lou Piniella, whom Rodriguez has spoken highly of from their time together in Seattle.
But Rodriguez made it clear he was not interested in fielding inquiries about Torre, who batted the slugger eighth in Game 4 of the 2006 American League Division Series in Detroit and was critical of Rodriguez in his book "The Yankee Years."
"I don't want any more of those questions," Rodriguez said. "Any more questions about anything else? No, I'm not going to get into that."
Girardi keeping close eye on Posada
PHOENIX -- The moments when Jorge Posada is coming off the field are the ones that Yankees manager Joe Girardi pays special attention to, because they are the opportunities that his hard-nosed catcher might let his guard down and hint at pain.
Thus far, Girardi has been pleased to see that Posada has not winced or limped as he returns to the dugout, and that is yet another encouraging sign. Girardi remains optimistic that he will be able to catch Posada twice in the Yankees' upcoming three-game series against the Dodgers.
"I think he's doing fine," Girardi said of Posada. "He blocked a number of balls last night and threw a guy out the other day. I do watch when he walks back into the dugout, because that's when I think you might see if he's got a little limp. I saw it one day that he expressed to me that he was sore, and I took him out, but I haven't seen it [lately]."
Girardi said that he did not feel the need to check with Posada on Wednesday, believing that he'd come through back-to-back nights behind the plate at Chase Field fine. Posada didn't start the Yankees' series finale with the D-backs on Wednesday, but he did enter as a pinch-hitter with two outs in the eighth inning, striking out swinging.
Posada has not caught three games in a row since May 1-3 in New York, and those dates stand out because the third game was one that Posada left with a right calf strain. Girardi said that he could not pick out a date when Posada might catch three straight games again.
"Some of it depends on the weather and how hot it is, and our schedule," Girardi said. "I just remember the last time I played him three days in a row, he came up with the calf [strain] that bothered him. That sticks in my mind, so let's be cautious."
Injured Thames, Aceves progressing
PHOENIX -- Yankees outfielder Marcus Thames has reported to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to continue taking batting practice, although the team has not yet set a date for him to begin a Minor League rehabilitation assignment.
Thames went on the 15-day disabled list on June 13 with a strained right hamstring and is slightly ahead of schedule. He's hitting .244 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 33 games this season.
Additionally, right-hander Alfredo Aceves is continuing to rehab from a strained lower back in Tampa, Fla., and played long toss again on Tuesday. That is not insignificant -- Aceves felt pain while throwing off flat ground in Tampa on May 25, a setback from an injury that sent him to the 15-day DL on May 12.
"He's definitely lasted down there longer than the last time," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Former Yankees Bernie Williams and David Cone will be joined by approximately 50 Yankees front-office employees on Thursday in Setauket, N.Y., lending a hand in the construction efforts of a house for the ABC television program "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." ... Double-A Trenton manager Tony Franklin has been tabbed as a coach for the 12th annual XM All-Star Futures Game, to be played on July 11 at Angel Stadium. ... With 23 career victories, Phil Hughes has collected the most wins by a Yankees pitcher prior to turning 24 since Mel Stottlemyre (29) and Al Downing (32), who had those totals prior to their 24th birthday in 1965.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.