Sending Good Thoughts to an Ex-Yankee

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I’m a big fan of Doug Mientkiewicz – so big that I finally learned how to spell his name. 
He played a stellar first base when he was with the Yankees in 2007. He missed a chunk of the season following a collision with Mike Lowell at Fenway, but he came back strong in September and was one of the reasons the Yankees squeaked into the playoffs.
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Maybe you remember him with the Twins, where he began his pro career.
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Or with the Red Sox, where he won the championship in ’04 and ignited some controversy after making the final out.

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 He was with the Mets in ’05, although it was an injury-plagued season for him.
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He moved to KC in ’06 for a stint with the Royals
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before joining the Yanks and flashing some leather. (Loved the crouch, loved his hustle, loved that he always got his uniform dirty.)
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When I was writing my book, Doug was candid and helpful and an all-around nice guy. I was hoping Cashman would bring him back in ’08, but the Yankees went with a parade of defensive replacements for Giambi that included Wilson Betemit, Shelley Duncan, Morgan Ensberg, Richie Sexson and Cody Ransom (not to mention Damon and Posada).
Instead, he signed with the Pirates and provided a stable, veteran presence in Pittsburgh.
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In August, he received a phone call with terrible news: His wife Jodi – his college sweetheart and the mother of their young son – had collapsed. Jodi needed heart surgery and a pacemaker, and Doug went on bereavement leave so he could be by her side.
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I spoke to Doug today. He said that Jodi had to undergo another operation but is doing okay. He also said that he’s had an outpouring of support from friends, players, even Joe Girardi.
“I don’t know him from Adam, but he took the time to call.”
Speaks well of Girardi, don’t you think?
I asked Doug, a free agent, if he’s had any job offers. He hinted that he’d love to play for his old manager out here on the west coast.
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Will it happen? He said he usually gets signed in January when clubs start looking for backup. Here’s wishing him and Jodi a Happy and Healthy New Year.

21 Comments

I always liked him too. It is funny that the reason the Twins ended up not re-signing David Ortiz was because of Doug. Then he ends up coming to the Sox in ’04 to re-team with Papi.

Hope all works out well for his wife. Thoughts and prayers for them.

Greg
Red Sox Ramblings: http://thevendahhh.mlblogs.com

I’ve always thought well of Joe Girardi and liked him as a player, so it’s good to hear about his sympathy. Nice post about Doug, and its cool you’ve gotten to interact with him and such.
http://theconsumptionof.mlblogs.com

I too send my thoughts and prayers out to Doug and his wife. I have fond memories of him and the cast of “idiots and cowboys” who made up our 2004 Red Sox. This just reminds you of what it truly important in life. Thanks for the update Jane and Happy New Year.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

I wondered what happened to Mientkiewicz after he went to the Pirates. I always liked him for some reason when he was with the Yankees. So I hope he and Jodi–and you–a happy New Year with good luck.

Yeah, Greg. The Ortiz-Mientkiewicz-Twins-Sox coincidence is interesting and one of the great things about baseball – you never know what’ll happen when somebody goes to a new team or which player he’ll be reunited with. On the Yankees Doug knew Damon, and he’s been friendly with A-Rod since high school. It’s like changing fraternities.

Girardi does seem to reach out to players when they’re going through personal issues, Joey. I may question his managerial moves at times, but I don’t think there’s any question that he’s a very decent human being.

That ’04 team was very special, Julia. And the championship ball is safely tucked away in the HOF, I believe. Happy New Year to you!

He had a good year with the Pirates, Neal. Good clubhouse guys who can play different positions and don’t mind being platooned are hard to find. But he probably won’t know where he’s playing next year for awhile yet. Happy New Year to you and GO YANKS.

Oh, that sucks. I love players who have character and who are all-around nice guys, and it’s nice to hear about another. I’ll definitely be praying for them.
Kylie — http://kylie.mlblogs.com

Have you read “Fantasyland”? It’s a great book and it features the inner-sadness that is Doug Mientkiewicz behind the clubhouse doors. Couldn’t help but shed tears for the guy. Okay, one tear. Yeah. Just one.
Happy New Year, Jane! You’re fabulous. You know this. Let’s keep it goin’ in 2009!
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

She-Fan,

I remember a play he made against Boston, where he knocked down a wicked shot, then dove into first base head first to make the out. This occurred after he’d had that concussion in the first base collision. He is a gutsy player, and I was really bummed when they told him to take a hike. It was Giardi’s defining mistake last year, thinking Jason could miraculously become a fulltime firstbaseman.

Dammit. The more I think about last year, the madder I get! Whajja go and have to mention it for? I’d almost forgotten. Damm.

el duque

Hey, Kylie. Can’t speak for others, but I found Doug to be a good guy and a straight shooter. No bull. Happy New Year to you.

I haven’t read “Fantasyland,” Jeff, but it sounds like I should. It got great reviews, as I recall. Will put it on my list, which is getting longer by the day. And you bet we’ll keep it going in 2009. No stopping us now!

I was bummed too, duque. Why Cashman decided to go with a cast of thousands at first base is beyond me. He could have had Giambi with Doug as a defensive replacement in late innings. Oh well. On to ’09 and our new guy. I think his name is Teixeira.

Nice highlight and I hope he and his wife do well in ’09. He sounds like the kind of guy who deserves the best. Read ya in ’09!
tom
http://rockymountainway.mlblogs.com

Wow, I didn’t realize that was going on in his life. Let’s all wish him an amazing 2009. Sounds like he deserves one.
http://themax.mlblogs.com

I’ll be reading you too in ’09, Tom. Hope you have a great New Year’s Eve. Party on!

Same to you guys at the max. Looking forward to more great posts in the new year!

I am very impressed that you learned how to spell his name. That’s probably harder than the Salty one!
http://kaybee.mlblogs.com

Hey, Jane …

Best Wishes for a Very Happy and Healthy New Year !!! … Jimmy [27NYY]

http://baseballtheyankeesandlife.mlblogs.com/

I always like Doug M as a player.
He was one of those guys you hated playing against because he made the game look so easy on the field. And his demeanor at the plate could drive you nuts………but, as a competitor, he was in rare air.

I really got a kick out of the entire Boston World Series ball fiasco, which I truly feel he was milking only because the team might of acted like jerks behind the scenes.

Glad to see that his wife has a better future prognosis, and I always look for his name across the rosters come April. The good thing about him in Pittsburgh is the fact he can spread that infectious playing style to another generation of ball players coming up in the league.

I know he might rather be playing for a post season team, but sometimes stepping back can bring you rewards also……….hopefully we will see him terrorize another A L pitcher in the near future.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Doug was a magician at first. Not much with the bat, but cared? Wishing him and his wife the best.

Steve T.
http://soxblog.mlblogs.com

Kaybee, it took me an entire season to learn how to spell it, and I still have to re-check after I type it!

Thanks, Jimmy. I wish you the same. Here’s hoping 2009 is a healthy, rewarding year for us all. GO YANKS!

Hey, Renegade. I’ll be looking to see where Doug ends up too. Maybe he’ll stay with Pittsburgh. Maybe he’ll sign with the Dodgers. I hope he lands somewhere. His glove and gritty game have to be worth something to somebody.

“A magician at first.” Good way to describe him, Steve. The Yankees needed someone to catch the ball at first and he got the job done. Very scrappy player.

Hi all,
-I have fond memories of down-and-dirty Doug as well, from his days here in Salt Lake. Just my $0.02, but I don’t think he was particularly sorry to leave Minnesota. As you have noted Doug is candid with his opinions, which got him into a bit of friction with Twins manager Tom Kelly. Not as badly as Todd Walker, thank goodness, but enough so his major league future was definitely in doubt. TK also kept David Ortiz in AAA for two seasons, predicting he’d never be a big leaguer until he shortened his swing and hit to all fields. At any rate, I was thrilled for Doug when Team USA won the Gold Medal at the Sydney Olympics. And I enjoyed hearing of Doug’s accomplishments in the Big Leagues with other teams.
-His wife’s illness is sad news indeed. Family was priority #1 with Doug, as I recall. And I believe Jodi was an anchor in helping Doug survive those stormy TK days.
-My heart and thoughts go out to the Mientkiewicz family. . .BeesGal

Hey, BeesGal. You’re right. Doug isn’t one to hide his displeasure! The flip side of that is his never-say-die attitude. He could have sat on the bench and sulked through his 2007 season with the Yanks. But when it was his time to play, he played his heart out. Thanks for the comment.

Hey, who gave you a day off? Haha, no entry on 12/31? Just kidding. Hope you had a good New Year’s.

Greg
Red Sox Ramblings: http://thevendahhh.mlblogs.com

You got me, Greg. Such a slacker I am. No new post yesterday. I promise to do better in 2009!

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