NEW YORK -- With Yankee Stadium playing host to the Pitch, Hit & Run championships, it made for a cool moment for all those involved.
The kids stood on the field in awe, while their parents rapidly snapped photos to capture the moment.
"It was a really cool experience," said Ryley Pas'cal, who placed third in the 11-12-year-old girls division. "I've never been here before and I liked the whole new setting and new field."
This was the 18th year Major League Baseball has run the youth skills program, and all 30 teams host a championship round at their ballpark. On Saturday, 12 girls and 12 boys were split into groups by age and gender and judged on their ability to pitch (how many times they could hit a strike zone after six pitches), hit (three swings off a tee and judged how far the ball traveled) and run (a timed sprint from second to home).
"I enjoyed the batting and how we're able to look out from the same view the players are looking at," said Noah Barber, who placed third this year in the 13-14-year-old boys division in his second year participating in the competition.
If the competitors' scores are among the top three across the nation in their age group, they will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to All-Star weekend in Minneapolis for the 2014 Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run Final. They will even get a chance to catch fly balls in the outfield during the 2014 Home Run Derby. The winners will be announced June 29 on MLB Network.
The winners from each age group for the Yankees included: Arricca Silliman and Aidan Hayward (ages 7-8); Erin Dougherty and Casey Saucke (ages 9-10); Allison Lowery and Aristo Pagiatakis (ages 11-12); Alexis Miller and Daniel Kowalski (ages 13-14).
Feeling good, CC to take throwing program to Florida
NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia threw a third successful 36-pitch bullpen session before Saturday's game and will head to Tampa, Fla., on Sunday to continue his throwing program.
"I feel pretty good," said Sabathia. "I haven't experienced any of the things I had earlier in the year. I'm excited about the way I feel. The brace that I have on is helping a lot. I'm ready to go."
Sabathia hasn't pitched since May 10, when he was placed on the disabled list with fluid in his right knee and eventually given a stem-cell injection in the knee. But since he's started his throwing program, he's reported no pain and is confident his knee is healthy.
"This is the time to test it," Sabathia said. "I will when I'm down there in Tampa. It's not just a rehab, I really need to test and see if I can do it."
Sabathia said he plans to throw batting practice on Tuesday and hopefully pitch in a game with hitters next Saturday, though he and manager Joe Girardi are still not sure what his first assignment will be.
"Everything is going well," said Girardi. "He had another bullpen session today. Obviously, he needs to continue his throwing program, and hopefully he'll start seeing hitters fairly soon."
Sabathia said he will continue to wear a brace on his knee for the rest of the season and has been working to gain back strength in his quad and calf to relieve pressure from his hips. The long recovery has also been important in helping him maintain the same mechanics.
"I think we've done a good job of that the past six, eight weeks," Sabathia said. "I feel better now that I have a little light [at the end of the tunnel] where I can see hopefully getting back out there healthy."
Yanks honor Tino with plaque in Monument Park
NEW YORK -- Before Saturday's game against the Orioles, the Yankees unveiled a plaque for former first baseman Tino Martinez that will join center field's Monument Park.
Martinez was acquired from Seattle prior to the 1996 season and went on to play seven seasons for New York, leading the team to four World Series victories. He hit .276 with 192 home runs and 739 RBIs in his Yankees career.
After the ceremony, Martinez remembered when he was first told that he'd be honored with the plaque. He was in Augusta, Ga., for The Masters golf tournament when he received the call from Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal.
"I was stunned," Martinez said. "I was by myself, my wife was home, my daughter was in school still. I was there by myself. Nobody was in my room still and I'm looking around just going, 'What?' I called back a half-hour later and said, 'Are you sure?'
"Thinking back to those first days when I got here, I was really excited to be a Yankee. I know I started out slow, but I just wanted to go out there and play hard, help the team win championships, which we did. I never imagined having a plaque in Monument Park when I was playing. When they called me, I was still overwhelmed by the whole situation, out there with all those great names, and you're about to be put out there as well. It's crazy. I'm honored, I'm humbled by it, but again, it's really the result of the successful team I played on."
After Don Mattingly retired and left first base vacant, Martinez knew he would have a lot of expectations, especially trying to supplant Mattingly's power.
"He had some really big shoes to fill," said manager Joe Girardi, one of Martinez's teammates in the late 1990s. "[Mattingly], rightfully so, was a fan favorite and great New York Yankee. Awesome first baseman, and Tino had to kind of earn his stripes and he did it fairly quickly. He did a really good job in handling that situation."
"I don't think you can underestimate how tough it is to replace Don Mattingly," said David Cone. "Tino came in , and maybe the first couple of weeks it was a slow start and then boom. We got 40-plus [home runs] and 140 RBIs out of him, we got our middle-of-the-order power guy, and that's what started the run.
Anticipating the ceremony, the Yankees scoreboard played highlights from Game 1 of the 1998 World Series, when Martinez launched a go-ahead grand slam off Mark Langston, one of his signature Yankees moments.
"Tino brought a real edge to the game and had high expectations," Girardi said. "I actually remember there was one day, him and [Paul] O'Neill, I was kind of in between their lockers, and they were arguing. Paul was jealous of the home runs Tino was hitting, Tino was jealous of the average that Paul had, and I'm thinking, 'Shut up. I don't need to hear this. Here I'm fighting every day to hit .260, .270. One of you has got 25 home runs, the other guy's hitting .325, I don't need to hear this. I don't feel bad for either one of you.' That's how they were."
After Martinez's news conference, former manager Joe Torre, former longtime athletic trainer Gene Monahan and former teammates Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and David Cone reflected on Martinez's time with the Yankees.
"A lot of times he didn't think he helped the ballclub as much as we all knew he did," said Torre.
"He was a tough, tough player," said Posada. "He was not always the outspoken one, but he was one of my favorites."
Monahan echoed those thoughts.
"He didn't lead with a lot of firepower, he let his stuff do the talking at the plate," said Monahan. "Every once in a while, if some young fellow wasn't backing up a play or somebody was a little lackadaisical here at the plate ... he'd give him a little nudge, and look him with his narrow eyes and straighten that guy right up. He's a team player all the way."
"[It's ] a privilege when you have a guy like that [who] will tell you the right things, even when you don't want to hear those things," said Rivera. "I was happy to play with him and I'm happy that I can call him my friend."
• Girardi didn't have a chance to look at Friday's MRI on right-hander Michael Pineda, who was scheduled to play catch today as he recovers from a shoulder injury.
• Jacoby Ellsbury has been successful in each of his last 13 stolen-base attempts entering Saturday. He hasn't been caught stealing since April 19 against the Rays.
• The Yankees will host the 68th Old Timers' Day before Sunday's series finale with the Orioles. Ceremonies begin at 11:30 a.m. ET.