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.
Maybe you remember him with the Twins, where he began his pro career.
Or with the Red Sox, where he won the championship in ’04 and ignited some controversy after making the final out.
He was with the Mets in ’05, although it was an injury-plagued season for him.
He moved to KC in ’06 for a stint with the Royals
before joining the Yanks and flashing some leather. (Loved the crouch, loved his hustle, loved that he always got his uniform dirty.)
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.
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.
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.
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.