Tagged: Robinson Cano

Gary Sanchez was the highlight of the last year for the Yankees

 

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Gary Sanchez – ESPN

We are now in the last few days of 2016 and it is likely that the Yankees will not acquire any new players before the first day of the new year. There is a rumor that David Robertson and Jose Quintana could be traded to the Yankees from the White Sox, but that possible trade would take a lot of top prospects from the Yankees and is probably not close to happening.

Looking back on the last year of Yankees baseball, when the team missed the playoffs for the third time in the last four seasons, the number one highlight was the emergence and historic performance from Gary Sanchez.

The last time the Yankees had a position player prospect come on to the scene from their minor league system and make an impact anywhere close to the one Sanchez did was Greg Bird in 2015. However, the only reason he was called up was because Mark Teixeira was injured for the last two months of the season.

After making his debut on August 13, Bird was very productive as he had 11 homers, 31 RBI, a .261 average and a .526 slugging percentage while playing very good defense at first. Bird had to miss the 2016 season because of surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, but his performance in 2015 has led to him going into spring training as the regular first baseman.

Bird should be able to be a productive first baseman in his first full season but his future is somewhat of an unknown since he is coming off of surgery and has only played two months. The last rookie Yankees position player who progressed from the Yankees minor league system to play a close to a full season and make a real impact before Bird and Sanchez was Brett Gardner back in 2009.

In 2009, Gardner played in 108 games, drove in 23 runs, stole 23 bases and had a solid .270 average. He made his debut in 2008 but only played in 48 games. He has been a productive outfielder for the Yankees since then and was named an All-Star in 2015 and his career high in steals is 49.

Before Gardner, Robinson Cano came up through the minor league system after being signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent as a 17-year-old and made his debut when he was 22 in 2005. When he was a rookie, Cano finished second in Rookie of the Year voting with 14 homers, 34 doubles, 62 RBI and a .297 average. Cano was an All-Star and received a Silver Slugger award in his second campaign after finishing with an outstanding .342 average with 15 homers, 78 RBI and a .525 slugging percentage.

Francisco Cervelli, who signed as an amateur free agent in 2003 out of Venezuela and made his debut as a 22-year-old in 2008, was solid and essentially split time with Jorge Posada in 2010 and had some decent years as a backup. Besides those three, the Yankees haven’t had significant production from a position player that they have developed in the last 10 years. This is what makes Sanchez’s production all the more important and significant.

Sanchez made his debut in September of 2015 when he was 0-2 in two at-bats in two games but would exceed his rookie limit in the 2016 season after playing regularly after being called up on August 3. He lost a competition with Austin Romine to be the backup in spring training but it was for the best because he was able to work on his defensive weaknesses with the Triple-A Scranton RailRiders.

Sanchez was called up for one game in May when he went 0-4 but during that game on August 3 he got his first MLB hit off of Hansel Robles in a game against the Mets. He ended the 2016 season with an very impressive stat line of a .299 average with 60 hits, 12 doubles, 34 runs scored, 20 homers, 42 RBI and a .657 slugging percentage.

He finished 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting to Michael Fulmer and surely would have finished first if he would have been called up a month and a half to two months sooner. However, very few players in baseball history have put up the kind of stats that he had in only two months of the season, which makes him finishing second in the voting very impressive and noteworthy and makes him the story of the year for the Yankees.

After becoming the everyday catcher on the 3rd he went on a four-game hitting streak, which included three doubles, and in the seven games after being called up he went 10 for 29 (.345) with one homer, four RBI and seven runs scored.

On August 10, in the middle of one of his hot streaks, he went 4-5 with his first MLB home run. On August 16 against the Blue Jays, Sanchez had his first of three two homer games. On August 22, Sanchez was named AL Player of the Week after hitting four home runs with a .523 average (12-21). After playing his 23rd career game on August 27, he became the first player in MLB history with at least 11 homers and 31 hits in that many games.

Another milestone that he set was on August 29 was winning his second consecutive Player of the Week, and on September 3 MLB named the Yankees prized catcher the Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month. He is the only Yankees catcher to ever named Rookie of the Month or Player of the Month.

“It feels great to win the award, but the reality is that the focus is to keep winning games right now,” Sanchez said through a translator. He had a team first attitude through all of his success, which is a positive.

He has always been known for his hitting ability but he has been able to improve his skills behind the plate and his success at throwing out runners at second. He had a 41 percent caught stealing percentage, which is a very solid number and was much better than what Brian McCann had.

He was always a highly rated prospect but he admittedly had some struggles earlier in his minor league career because of attitude issues, which he has overcome. He credits the birth of his daughter for his transformation from a player “going through the motions” to one who is now praised for his work ethic.

On September 21, in a game against the Rays when he was 3-4 with 5 RBI, he slugged his 18th and 19th homers in his 45th career game, which made him the fastest player to reach that mark in the modern era. His ability to improve his mindset, work ethic and overall skill set and to not go through the motions anymore has caused him to improve all around and the give the Yankees a potential All-Star at the catcher position.

 

Cano hit two two-run homers in Seattle’s 4-3 win over the Yankees

Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano

The Yankees lost to the Seattle Mariners, 4-3, at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon after getting the win in the first game of the series on Friday. Former Yankee Robinson Cano drove in all four of Seattle’s runs.

Cano hit a homer above the Stanley sign in right center to drive in Kyle Seager in the first inning and then hit another two-run homer over the Fox Business sign in the sixth off of Michael Pineda to give the Mariners a lead they would not lose. Both of Cano’s homers came off of fastballs up in the zone, and that was a pitch that Cano was always able to do damage on as a Yankee.

One hitter hurt us really bad today,” Joe Girardi said. “Today it was Robbie. We know he is a really good player.”

That was Cano’s first multi-homer game since joining the Mariners. Pineda pitched six innings and he would want those two pitches to Cano back. Besides Cano’s homers, Pineda allowed four hits and two walks to the Mariners. He struggled once again on extra rest, which is something that he will have to get better at because the Yankees will have to limit his innings the rest of the season.

“I feel OK today,” Pineda said. “I tried to do my best on the mound. My fastball was not as sharp as it usual is. This is the game. Cano is a pretty good hitter and he had a good day today.” Cano hit his homers early in the at-bats, and Pineda had to be fastball reliant because he didn’t have command of his slider.

Brian McCann tied the game at two on a deep homer to right-center in the fourth inning that scored Mark Teixeira. That was his 15th homer of the season, and McCann is just the 3rd catcher in MLB history with 15+ HR in 10 of his 1st 11 seasons.

In the sixth inning, the Yankees didn’t score any runs after having Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury on second with no outs. Gardner extended his hitting streak to eight games but Alex Rodriguez was not able to drive him home.

Didi Gregorius hit a double down the right field line with two outs in the seventh for his first and only hit of the game. However, Rob Refsnyder, who was 0-3 and only has two hits in 12 at-bats since being called up, grounded out to first to strand Gregorius at second. The Yankees did not make the most of their scoring chances as they were 0-8 with runners in scoring position.

Mark Teixeira leadoff the bottom of the ninth with a double to the wall in right-center for his second hit of the game. With one out in the inning, Chase Headley advanced to first on a missed third strike that went all the way back to the backstop. Teixeira advanced to third on the wild pitch. With the score 4-3 after Garrett Jones’s RBI groundout, Gregorius grounded out to Cano at second to end the game.

Marines starter Hisashi Iwakuma picked up five strikeouts in his 5.2 innings and kept the Yankees off balance with his hesitation in his delivery. “He changes speeds really well,” Girardi said. “He has got four different pitches that he can use and that’s what he did.”

As a result of Tampa’s win over Toronto this afternoon, the Yankees now have a 3.5 game lead of the Rays for first place in the AL East. Felix Hernandez will pitch for the Mariners and CC Sabathia will pitch for the Yankees in the series finale at 1:05 p.m. EST on Sunday.

Garrett Jones’s 3-run homer in the 11th led the Yankees to a win over the Mariners

Garrett Jones

Garrett Jones

The Yankees (28-25) beat the Seattle Mariners 5-3 in 11 innings for their second consecutive win in Seattle after losing three out of four games in Oakland against the Athletics. Garrett Jones, who came in as a pinch hitter for Chris Young in the eighth inning, won the game for the Yankees since he smashed a homer to right center that drove in Stephen Drew and Brett Gardner.

Jones, who went 2-3 with those three RBIs after coming into the game, now has nine hits in his last 18 at-bats after previously only having one hit in 22 at-bats. His average is now a respectable .254 and on May 20 it was a very low .150. The Yankees need him to continue to drive in runs and hit homers, and he is capable of doing that because he hit 15 or more homers in every season from 2009-2014 and drove in 86 runs in 2010 and 2012.

Jones has been a backup this season because he has Mark Teixeira ahead of him at first, Carlos Beltran ahead of him in right and Alex Rodriguez ahead of him at DH.

Just know what my purpose and spot on the team is going to be and just try to do the best I can at it,” he said of what he’s changed over the past few weeks. “Right now I think I feel comfortable with the routine and mentally feel in a better place in the spot I’m in.”

Jones hit what ended up being the game-winning homer off of reliever Joe Beimel. Joe Girardi has been impressed with the way Jones has performed the last two weeks and knows that he is able to hit the ball out of the ballpark.

The last two weeks, he’s swung the bat really well,” said manager Joe Girardi. “We’ve got him going, and he has the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark. … He knows Beimel. He’s seen Beimel. He had an idea of his pitches.”

Mark Teixeira extended his hitting streak to four games in the third inning as his double to left scored Brett Gardner for the first run of the game. It was his fifth RBI in his last two games and he is now up to 40 on the season, which is first in the American League and fourth in all of baseball. His 15 homers are tied with Josh Donaldson for second in the AL, and the Yankees would not have a one-game lead for first place in the AL East without him.

The Mariners scored a run in the third and a run in the fifth after an Austin Jackson double, but Stephen Drew’s double to deep right that scored Chase Headley tied the score in the ninth inning. The offensive stars for the Yankees during this game were two players who have struggled this season and who the Yankees have not gotten much from offensively.

Justin Wilson, who got the win after not allowing any runs in the 10th inning, made a great diving catch on a Rickie Weeks bunt attempt for a double play.

CC Sabathia pitched much better than he did in his previous start (five earned runs in six innings) as he only allowed two runs in 5.2 innings. Sabathia gave up nine hits and allowed two walks, but he was able to record six key strikeouts, pitch well with men on base in addition to getting Wellington Castillo to ground into a double play to end the fourth inning.

After allowing two homers in his previous start, Sabathia was able to rebound to prevent a round tripper in this outing. The Mariners have the fourth most homers in the America League, led by Nelson Cruz’s league leading 18, so it is a positive sign that the was able to prevent them from hitting one. Sabathia has a high 5.45 ERA, but this was his fourth start allowing two runs or less in addition to his start where he pitched seven innings and allowed three runs.

Andrew Miller allowed two hits in the 11th including an RBI single to former Yankee great Robinson Cano to make the score 5-3, but he was able to get his 16th save (3rd most in AL) of the season. This was only the second game that he has allowed a runner to score this season (he allowed two runs on May 19) and his two strikeouts gave him 37 in 23.1 innings.

Carlos Beltran will not play in Wednesday’s day game (3:40 EST) because he fouled a ball off his right instep during Tuesday’s game. Masahiro Tanaka will make his anticipated return from the disabled list and make his first major-league start since allowing one run on April 23. Tanaka will be limited to about 80 pitches after making 62 pitches in his start on May 27 for Triple-A Scranton.

The Yankees will look to win three games in a row since they did so on May 1-3 against the Boston Red Sox.

Chase Whitley’s 7.2 solid innings led to the first three-game sweep of the season for the Yankees

Chase Whitley during spring training

Chase Whitley during spring training

The Yankees just finished a much needed three-game sweep against the Seattle Mariners. The Yankees improved their record to 34-31 and are 3.5 games behind the first place Toronto Blue Jays. The Baltimore Orioles have won two in a row and are tied with the Yankees for second place in the American League East.

On Thursday, the Yankees beat Robinson Cano and the Mariners 6-3 after yet another impressive pitching performance from rookie Chase Whitley. He only allowed two runs in 7.2 innings while not allowing a walk, striking out six batters and throwing 62 of his 82 pitches for strikes. Whitley, who has an excellent change-up, picked up his second consecutive win after four consecutive no decisions after joining the rotation after CC Sabathia’s injury.

Whitley credited outstanding defensive plays in the outfield for part of his success. “They (Mariners) were aggressive,” Whitely said. “They started being aggressive especially later on. What else helped was (Jacoby) Ellsbury making a heck of a catch and Gardy (Brett Gardner) making a heck of a catch.” He said his strikeout in the third was “huge because that was a shutdown inning and my goal is to always make sure that we always shutdown innings. To be able to do that especially in that situation, first and third, to get through that, that was big.”

The Yankees are now 5-1 in games that Whitley has started. Whitley has always put the team in position to win partly because of only allowing three walks in his 33.2 innings pitched. He has not allowed a walk in his past four starts, which usually means that a pitcher will have success. Seattle scored their first run off of Whitley via a homer by Logan Morrison in the 2nd inning and their second off of a James Jones single to center that scored Brad Miller.

Whitley was able to get the win because the Yankees had a 6-2 lead when he left the game. Ellsbury hit a 408-foot homer to right center in the first to drive in Derek Jeter and extend his hitting streak to 16 games. He is now living up to the hefty contract that the Yankees gave him. In the third, Alfonso Soriano’s double to left scored Ellsbury and Jeter, and Jeter’s single in the fourth sent Brian Roberts and John Ryan Murphy home. Jeter, who had three hits, and Murphy, who had two hits, were the two Yankees who had multiple hits, but every player except Roberts, Yangervis Solarte and Gardner had a hit.

Shawn Kelley, who was pitching in his first game since May 6 as a result of a lower-back strain, allowed a run off of two hits in the ninth inning. This led to David Robertson striking out the last two batters of the game for his 16th save of the season.

The Bronx Bombers, who scored more than four runs on Thursday for the first time since May 28, will now play three games in Oakland against the Athletics. The Athletics, who have scored the second most runs in baseball and have a very good pitching staff, currently have the best record in the American League and trail only the San Francisco Giants for the best record in all of baseball.

Here are the pitching match-ups for the series in Oakland:

Friday at 10:05 p.m. EST – David Phelps, (1-4, 4.88 ERA) who allowed seven runs in his last start, will start for the Yanks. The 24-year-old righty Sonny Gray (6-2, 2.83 ERA) will pitch for the Athletics.

Saturday at 10:05 p.m. EST – Two pitchers who have recently been pitching well will face off. It will be Hiroki Kuroda (4-4, 4.12 ERA) vs. Scott Kazmir (7-2, 2.20 ERA).

Sunday at 4:05 p.m. EST – In the series finale it will be Vidal Nuno (1-2, 4.97 ERA, who is from California, pitching against righty Jesse Chavez (5-5, 3.04 ERA).

Masahiro Tanaka’s second complete game of the season led to a 4-2 Yankees win over the Mariners

Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka nearly pitched a complete game shutout, but Robinson Cano hit a two-run homer (his first at Safeco Field this season) with one out in the ninth to make the score 4-2. He ended up striking out Kyle Seager and Logan Morrison to end the game and record his 10th win of the season.

The 25-year-old rookie from Japan, who has only one loss, leads the American League with his 2.02 ERA and 0.94 WHIP and is in fourth place in the AL with his 103 strikeouts. He tied Mark Buehrle for first in the AL with 10 wins as a result of winning his fourth consecutive start. He struck out 11 Mariners and only walked one, which improved his outstanding strikeout to walk ratio to 103 to 14. As a result of all of his pitches working for him he was able to not allow a Mariner to reach third until the eighth and strike out the side in the sixth inning.

“The bottom line is that I was able to make pretty much all of my pitches today, so that got me deep into the game,” Tanaka said. His splitter was working to perfection and that helped him record six swinging strikeouts through the first five innings.

Mark Teixeira’s three-run homer that drove in Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury in the fifth inning made the score 4-0 and ended up being the difference in the game. Teixeira currently leads the team in homers (11) and RBIs (30). His 17th career homer at Safeco Park just barely cleared the wall in right center. Ellsbury, who has improved his average from .273 to .290 since the game on June 3, is on a 15-game hitting streak. He has six multi-hit games in that span, and has three doubles, one homer, seven steals and 10 RBIs since the streak started on May 26.

Derek Jeter was one of three Yankees who had two hits, the others were Ellsbury and Gardner, and had a multi-hit game for the second day in a row. Playing in Seattle has helped him break the slump he has been in as he had not had more than a hit in a game since May 31 against the Twins. His two steals during the game pushed him over the 350 steal plateau, and according to Jeff Quagliata, he is now the third player in MLB history to have 3,000 or more hits, 350 or more steals and 250 or more homers. Craig Biggio and Rickey Henderson are the two others who accomplished this feat.

The Yankees scored their first run of the game on an Ellsbury single to center that drove in Roberts in the third inning. Roberts has an unimpressive .237 average this season. It is possible that Rob Refsnyder, who just got called up to Triple-A Scranton after hitting .342 and six homers at Trenton, could replace the veteran Roberts if Refsnyder continues to dominate at AAA.

Tanaka’s transition to playing baseball in the United States has been smoother than anyone expected. Tanaka, who was 24-0 last season in Japan and is 10-1 this season, is basically dominating Major League Baseball hitters the same way that he owned the Nippon Professional Baseball league. He is a lock to be an All-Star in his first season and it seems like he will finish in the top five in Cy Young voting in his first season. He was very modest to Meredith Marakovits after the game in assessing his performance this season, which proves how much he expects perfection.

“I have been doing OK, but it is a team effort, and I am really happy about today’s win,” Tanaka said. The Yankees hope that he will be “OK” the rest of the season since he has pitched better than basically everyone else in the American League, and the Yankees would be many game below .500 without him.

In the series finale at 10:10 PM EST, Chase Whitley will pitch for the Yankees. Whitley, who has a 2.42 ERA in five starts (26 innings), while having 18 strikeouts to only three walks, has given the Yankees more than they could have expected while filing in for CC Sabathia. He has one win, but the team is 4-1 in games that he has started.

Roenis Elias, who has 70 strikeouts and a 3.64 ERA, will get the start for the Mariners. Elias struggles more in night games as he has a 3.90 ERA in night games and a 2.91 ERA in day games.

The Yankees will look to push their winning streak to three before heading down the west coast to Oakland for a three-game series.

The Yankees need Kuroda to get back on track against the Mariners

Hiroki Kuroda pitching last season against the Orioles.

Hiroki Kuroda pitching last season against the Orioles.

The Yankees will play what will end up being the second game of their series against the Seattle Mariners tonight at 7:05 p.m. Yesterday’s scheduled game was postponed because heavy rain hit the Bronx for the duration of the day. It will be played on June 2 because both teams have an off day.

As a result of Wednesday’s game being postponed, the Yankees will not have to face the Mariners ace, Felix Hernandez, in this series. Hernandez has 47 strikeouts and a 2.40 ERA this season, and last season, he had 1.38 ERA in 13 innings pitched against the Yankees.

Robinson Cano will be playing in his second game back at Yankee Stadium after playing for the Yankees for the first 10 seasons of his career. The majority of fans booed him in the game on Tuesday, and fans accused him of “selling out” during the game. Cano is hitting .375 in the last seven days and drove in one run in the win for the Mariners on Tuesday. He is by far the most feared hitter in Seattle’s lineup.

Hiroki Kuroda, who has a 6.07 ERA since last August 17 and a 5.28 ERA this season, will pitch for the Yankees. He struggled mightily in his last start six earned runs in 4.2 innings against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He needs to find his slider to move where he wants it to as it hasn’t worked very well in his previous starts. This is not like Kuroda since before August of the 2013 season he was the most reliable starter in the rotation. They need Kuroda to be reliable going forward because Ivan Nova will be out the rest of the season and it is not known when Michael Pineda will be back.

The Yankees are hitting .296 against lefties this season, which bodes well for tonight since a lefty, Roenis Elias, is pitching for the Mariners. Elias, who has a 3.54 ERA and 21 strikeouts, is only making his sixth start of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury will return to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s game as a result of a sore left hand. He has lived up to expectations in the beginning of his Yankees career since he has a .312 average, 11 RBIs, 14 runs and eight steals. Mark Teixera has also found his power stroke since he has returned from his injury. In his last five games, Teixeira is 3-13, with three homers, three RBIs and six walks.

If Derek Jeter scores one run, he will be tied for 12th place on the all-time MLB runs list. He would overtake Tris Speaker, who played from 1907-1928.

It has been announced that Pineda will be out for three to four weeks after being shut down for 10 days as a result of his lat injury. Other players have had the same Grade 1 teres major muscle strain injury and been out longer than four weeks, so that timetable is not exact at the this point. David Phelps, who would have pitched yesterday’s game, will take his Pineda’s spot in the rotation.

Preview of the series between the Yankees and the Mariners

Robinson Cano makes his highly anticipated return to Yankee Stadium with the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. He was the second baseman for the Yankees for nine seasons, was a five-time All-Star, helped the team win the World Series in 2009 and never played less than 159 games from 2007-2013. He hit a career-high 33 homers in 2012 and drove in a career-high 118 runs in 2011. He is likely the best second baseman in franchise history.

However, he will likely get a mixed reaction, or more people will boo him than cheer him, since he often did not run as fast as he could when going to first base. This did not take away from his productive average or impressive power stats. Another reason people will boo Cano is that he said that “I didn’t feel respect” from the Yankees after they offered him a $175 million contract. This obviously did not make sense since his contract was worth $25 million a season, but it is hard to blame him for taking a contract that was worth $65 million more, as Derek Jeter said. However, taking the contract meant he valued the money more than being able to win with the Yankees.

The Mariners have lost seven of their past 10 games and enter the series in fourth place in the American League West. However, they beat the Texas Rangers on Sunday after scoring a run in the seventh and three in the eighth to get the 6-5 win. The Yankees have won five of their past seven and are in first place in the AL East.

Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, who were both expected to be important members of their rotation, have been on the disabled list since spring training. Neither of them will be able to return for the series at Yankee Stadium.

On Tuesday night, CC Sabathia (3-2, 4.78 ERA), who is coming off of two dominating starts after struggling in his first three, will get the start for the Yankees. In his last start, on April 24 against the Boston Red Sox, he struck out eight batters and only allowed two runs in six innings. He is learning how to pitch with decreased velocity on his fastball and is locating his secondary pitches much better than he was in the beginning of April. Only one of the seven Mariners who previously have hit against Sabathia have an average above .222.

Chris Young, a 6-10 right who is in his 10th season in the majors, will get his fourth start of the season. Iwakuma or Walker will likely replace him in the rotation once they are healthy. Young has a 3.50 ERA his season, but has 10 strikeouts and 11 walks this season. Since he has not been able to find his control the Yankees will look to be patient because walks tend to set up RBI opportunities.

Wednesday night’s contest, at 7:05 p.m, will be one in which a fill-in starter (David Phelps) and a rookie starter (Roenis Elias) will be facing each other. Phelps will get the start as a result of Michael Pineda’s 10-game suspension due to his pine tar usage. This will be Phelps’s 25th start of his career as a Yankee and he has a 4.39 ERA in his previous 24 starts. Elias has a 3.54 ERA and 21 strikeouts in five starts this season.

Seattle’s ace, “King” Felix Hernandex, will start the series finale on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. Hiroki Kuroda, who has struggled this season as he has a 7.02 ERA in his last three games, will start for the Yankees. So far this season Kuroda has a 5.28 ERA and only 18 strikeouts. Kuroda basically said after his last start,where he allowed 6 earned runs in 4.2 innings, that he struggled to locate all of his pitches. He needs to be able to throw his sinker and slider for strikes and not leave them up in the zone to be able to have a quality start.

The Yankees pitching staff should be able to find success during this series since out of 30 teams, the Mariners are 25th in runs scored, 26th in team average and 28th in on-base percentage. Outside of Cano, who has a .301 average and 11 RBIs and could find his power as he has hit many homers past the short porch in right at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees have to pay attention to Kyle Seager. His .228 average is deceptive since five homers and 11 RBIs in his last four games.

Here is Cano’s appearance on Jimmy Fallon on Monday where he talked about advice that Jeter gave him early in his career: