06/21/10 10:29 PM ET
Memory of '01 in Phoenix 'still hurts' Yanks
By Andrew Pentis and Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
Four Yankees do, though entering this week's Arizona-New York series at Chase Field almost a decade later -- the teams' first meeting here since 2004 -- they're not exactly thrilled to recall it.
"Coming into this series, obviously we saw some of the highlights and stuff, and it still hurts," said catcher Jorge Posada, who is in 16th season wearing pinstripes. "I don't think we would have changed anything. Coming into that seventh game, we had pretty good hope and, coming into that ninth inning, winning by one and Mariano [Rivera] coming in the ninth -- that's probably why it hurts, because they beat our guy. It still hurts a little bit."
Posada was, of course, talking about Luis Gonzalez's blooper of a walk-off single -- the infield was in -- off of Rivera and just over shortstop Derek Jeter.
"Gonzo is in the building," Arizona manager A.J. Hinch joked on Monday, "so all of that is in our favor."
Aside from pitchers Rivera and Andy Pettitte, who went 0-2 in the Series opposing Randy Johnson, Jeter represents the other Yankee who will toe the turf at Chase Field this week with memories of the not-so-distant past.
"That Series was pretty exciting," the Yankees' captain said. "Even though we lost, you had to enjoy playing it until the last inning.
"That loss we probably remembered more until we won [the World Series] last year."
Drew provides steady hand on 'D' for D-backs
PHOENIX -- Unless it's absolutely necessary, D-backs shortstop Stephen Drew will not be duplicating Derek Jeter's patented jump-throw to first base anytime soon.
"I guess that's one of his trademarks," Drew said on Monday afternoon, before his club countered Jeter's Yankees at Chase Field. "If I had to do it, I could do it. But I usually take the other route.
"You're kind of your own self. As a person, you know what you can do and what you can't do. So, I'm not the guy that's going to be flashy. I just try to make the routine play and [make] the hard plays look easy."
Through 64 games this season, Drew made just three errors in 250 total chances at the infield's most demanding position, none in Arizona's past 41 games. He led the Major Leagues with a .988 fielding percentage, while Jeter (.983) sat fifth. (Going by Zone Rating, a trendier measuring stick, Jeter, 6.572, bested Drew, 6.028.)
"It's been good so far," said Drew, reticent to talk numbers before all 162 games are played. "Sometimes it's kind of the luck of the draw ... you get a hard-hit ball, you block it, and they give you an error, and it could have been a hit. Right now things are landing in the right area, so I'll just try to keep that up through the course of the year."
Drew wasn't among MLB's top five fielding shortstops in his first three full seasons, 2007-09, but wasn't a slouch either: He improved his fielding percentage each season, from .973 to .977 and .980 in 2009.
"I'm just trying to continually get better," he said.
And, just because he takes "the other route" to do it, doesn't mean he was denigrating Jeter, by the way. On the contrary.
"One of my favorite players growing up was Jeter," Drew said. "He was young. I watched him."
Jeter, a four-time Gold Glove Award winner who turns 36 on Saturday, initially cringed at that thought.
"I'm still young," he said with a serious face then relenting. "[I] appreciate it anytime someone has good things to say.
"I haven't really had an opportunity to see him much. We played him in New York [in 2007]. I'm well aware he's a great player. I ask his brother, [Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew] how he's doing all the time."
Legends Race to include Gonzo, Unit mascots
PHOENIX -- The D-backs announced the first two characters in their upcoming D-backs Legends Race on Monday and neither was a surprise -- Luis Gonzalez and Randy Johnson.
Gonzalez, of course, owns the most famous hit in franchise history when he singled off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. The single gave Arizona its first, and only, major sports championship.
The franchise leader in just about every offensive category, Gonzalez played for the D-backs from 1999-2006 when the organization won three National League West titles and one NL championship and World Series. He is now a special assistant to team president and CEO Derrick Hall.
Johnson, who retired after last season, pitched for the D-backs from 1999-2004 and again from 2007-08. The left-hander, who is the franchise leader in nearly every pitching category, won four straight NL Cy Young Awards during his first stint with the D-backs and also pitched a perfect game on May 18, 2004.
Similar to the Sausage Race at Miller Park and the Presidents Race at Nationals Park, the D-backs Legends Race presented by Henkel will take place at the end of the fifth inning at all home games beginning with the July 2 game with the Dodgers.
The race will feature four D-backs legends -- 10-foot tall men in uniform with large foam heads that will resemble players who have made a significant contribution to the organization on the field. The characters will run a race that will start close to the right-field foul pole and end at the on-deck circle near the D-backs' dugout.
After the July 2 game, the D-backs mascots will greet fans before games at the main rotunda entrance of Chase Field and pose for photos in the St. Joseph's Hospital Sandlot on the upper level after the race through the end of the game.
For more information about the D-backs Legends Race, presented by Henkel, and an opportunity to win tickets and view the inaugural race in person at Chase Field on July 2, go to dbacks.com/legends.
Many current D-backs players were in their teens when Arizona beat the Yankees in the 2001 World Series. Catcher Miguel Montero, then 18, was playing in the Dominican Republic and went to sleep the night of Game 7 without knowing the result. He awoke, he said, to another player screaming that the D-backs had won. ... Montero had 10 hits in his first 29 at-bats since exiting the 15-Day disabled list on June 12. ... The D-backs have swiped 13 bases in their past 15 games.
Andrew Pentis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.