MILWAUKEE -- It's Joe Girardi's least favorite time of the season -- the portion when the Yankees have to play National League clubs in National League parks.
And that means just one thing: Pitcher at the plate.
The very thought of it makes Girardi's skin crawl. "I don't like it," he said before Friday's Yankees-Brewers game.
What doesn't he like about it? "Pitchers hitting, number one," he said. "Pitchers running the bases, number two. Pitchers not being as familiar with them as with the other clubs we play. Pitchers not having a history with what they like to do against the hitters, those are all my concerns."
But Girardi's biggest concern is clearly the possibility of a pitcher getting hit by a pitch, or pulling a muscle trying to leg out a hit, or injuring himself on a slide.
As he said, "I'll be holding my breath until these next two weeks are over."
Girardi's concern is shared by Friday night's starter, Masahiro Tanaka, who -- in spite of crushing a couple of batting practice home runs off pitching coach Larry Rothschild in Anaheim earlier this week -- admitted he was "a little scared" by the prospect of stepping into the batter's box against a major-league pitcher. Aside from attempting to lay down a bunt, Tanaka said, "I don't anticipate swinging the bat at all."
Not so for Saturday night's starter, CC Sabathia, who has a high opinion of his hitting ability. Asked Friday if he was looking forward to swinging the bat in the park where he played during the second half of the 2008 season, Sabathia said, "I’m looking forward to picking up a bat anywhere. Getting a chance to hit here, I think will be fun. But yeah, I love interleague [play], I love hitting. We’ve been taking BP for the past couple weeks and I’m ready to go."
Words that will make Girardi cringe.
Jeter still a Mr. T fan: As he has in every road city in this, his final season, Derek Jeter met with the media before the game.
Jeter was asked about the announcement that the Yankees are going to retire Joe Torre's No. 6 and give him a plaque in Monument Park.
"He deserves it," Jeter said. "He’s going to go down as a great Yankee, not just a great Yankee manager. He’s meant a lot to this organization. We have a great relationship. I’ve said it before, he’s been like a second father to me throughout my career playing for him and now even though he’s not the manager here, we still have a close relationship. So I’m extremely happy.”
Pineda improving: Girardi said Michael Pineda, off suspension but on the DL with a back muscle strain, was close to beginning to throw again. "He should probably be getting pretty close to playing catch," Girardi said. "And he may have even started. He should be pretty close." Pineda is expected to miss three or four weeks with the injury.
McCann-Gomez II: Brian McCann and Carlos Gomez, who had an on-field confrontation last year when McCann was an Atlanta Brave over Gomez's styling after a home run, reportedly met on the field before Friday's game and hugged. Earlier this week, McCann said he "respected the way Gomez played the game," and Girardi said he was sure there would be no repeat of the incident.
"I think it was Brian just probably protecting his pitcher and being a leader on his club," Girardi said. "Things happen in the heat of the moment. Those are the kind of leadership qualities we were looking at when we signed him."