Raul Ibanez, a dead-ringer for Yul Brynner in "The King and I,'' held court, briefly, in the Yankees' clubhouse on Saturday morning and said one of the reasons he chose to come here was because of the uniform.
Among the criteria the 40-year-old Ibanez listed as his reasons for choosing the Yankees were, "It's a winning team, it's a chance to win the World Series, being able to be close to home in Philadelphia where I live with my family, and and opportunity to get at-bats.
"Then above all of that is being able to wear the pinstripes and play in New York for the Yankees. Even though when you're on the other team, you may not like the Yankees, when the opportunity presents itself to become a Yankee, it's a big deal."
Like Alex Rodriguez, Ibanez was born in Manhattan -- Roosevelt Hospital -- but grew up in Miami, his family having moved down when he was a year old. He ran across A-Rod as a youngster in an instructional league years later and recalled asking someone, "Who is that kid? That's the next Juan Gonzalez.''
"I have apologized since,'' Ibanez said, laughing. "But at the time, it seemed like a really big call.''
Ibanez, who just came out of a three-year deal with the Phillies, was a member of the team that lost the 2009 World Series in six games to the Yankees, and remembers standing helplessly in the outfield as Johnny Damon stole two bases on one pitch in Game 4, the play that may have turned the Series to the Yankees.
"That was unbelievable,'' Ibanez said. I could feel myself pointing and yelling but not being able to do anything about it."
Ibanez said he was still angry about the play, and the outcome of the series, until about two weeks ago. He obviously got over it when he won the sweepstakes -- over Damon and Hideki Matsui, another member of that team -- to be the Yankees' DH this year.
"I'm thrilled to be here,'' he said.
QUESTION: How about you? Did the Yankees make the right choice with Ibanez over Damon or Matsui?