06/28/10 2:55 AM ET
Yankees looking into Park's issues
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Huffman shares field with longtime friend
LOS ANGELES -- When Chad Huffman lined his two-run single into right field in the ninth inning on Sunday night, he clapped his hands excitedly and returned to first base. Yet, the person on the field who knew him the longest could not congratulate him, not in front of 56,000 witnesses and a national TV audience.Huffman was a teammate of Dodgers first baseman James Loney at Elkins High School in Missouri City, Texas, and the 25-year-old Huffman has looked forward to the day when they would share a diamond again -- under the bright lights at a big league park. "We talked about when we were kids in Pony ball, actually, in high school and winning state championships together," Huffman said. "It was fun to see him out there on first base. It was something I've been hoping to do for a long time." Huffman said his at-bat against Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton -- a pivotal moment in New York's four-run ninth -- came after he got advice from Alex Rodriguez, who told him to stay on top of the ball, get something in the middle of the plate and hit the ball to right-center. The words of wisdom helped, not that Loney should have been impressed. "He wasn't too happy with me," Huffman said, laughing.
Eiland set to rejoin Yankees Tuesday
LOS ANGELES -- Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland is scheduled to return from his extended leave of absence on Tuesday, and his staff of hurlers will be elated to have his input once again.Manager Joe Girardi said Sunday that he anticipates having Eiland in the dugout for the opener of a three-game series against the Mariners at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, the first contests Eiland has worked since leaving the Yankees on June 4. "There was a time period that things had to be worked out," Girardi said. "Dave was going through some personal things. He's ready and he's coming back." Girardi would not elaborate on the reason for Eiland's absence, but said that he does not anticipate Eiland will have to leave the team again this year. While Eiland was away, Girardi said that he did keep up with the team. "I think you'd have to put somebody on a deserted island with no TV or papers, if you're a baseball guy, to not have an idea of what's going on," Girardi said. "As much as he was taking care of the stuff he needed to take care of, he was aware." Eiland will have an immediate challenge upon getting back to work. His return coincides just as one of his pitchers, A.J. Burnett, completed the worst month of his Major League career, going 0-5 with an 11.35 ERA in five starts. While Burnett accepted responsibility for his struggles, he also acknowledged missing Eiland's input. "Dave has certain little key words that he can tell you to get you back on track when your delivery is a little off," said Yankees ace CC Sabathia. "He's good at finding flaws, but I think he's really good at communicating, too. That's hard for a lot of coaches to do. It's going to be good to have him back." In Eiland's absence, bullpen coach Mike Harkey served as the interim pitching coach, with Class A Staten Island manager Josh Paul and head video coordinator Charlie Wonsowicz helping out in the bullpen. "All of us had to step up, but it's good to be whole again," Girardi said. "I said all along that we were going to miss him, but I thought we did a good job of weathering the storm."
With CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte all wielding nine or more wins, the Yankees are the first Major League team to have three pitchers with nine wins within their first 73 games since the 1998 Braves (Tom Glavine, 9; John Smoltz, 10; Kevin Millwood, 10). They are the first Yankees to accomplish the feat since 1976 (Dock Ellis, 9; Ed Figueroa, 9; Catfish Hunter, 10). ... Nick Swisher's outfield assist of Matt Kemp on Saturday was his team-leading fifth and Swisher's third in three games. Swisher's career-high was six for the 2005 A's.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.