It’s been a very busy week at the camp–many, if not all, of the Yankee scouts from around the region, including Venezuela, have been staying here, and, as well, many American Yankee coaches and about 8 American minor leaguers have been attending the camp.

Wednesday was a very interesting day. Many of the visiting U.S. players and a few of the Dominican guys, as well as yours truly, went into Santo Domingo to put on a clinic at an orphanage there. It was attended by a couple hundred or so happy, energetic kids. Also on hand from the Big Team were 1st base coach Tony Pena, outfielder Melky Cabrera, 2nd baseman Robby Cano, and up-and-coming pitcher Edwar Ramirez. All of them are from the D.R. The Yankees also donated $25,000 to a group called “Food For the Poor” as part of the relief effort in the wake of Tropical Storm Noel. Here’s more in a Yankee Press Release.

If you read that release, you’ll see that the club is also going to San Juan de la Managua, Ramirez’ home town, in the southwest part of the country this Sunday to assist in relief efforts. I’ll be making that trip also, a journey that we’ll be starting at 6 a.m. Not just a handful of the players at the camp are going–the whole team, some 65 or so players, along with coaches, scouts and others, will be making the trip. It should be a great time during a very worthwhile effort. Scroll down to see some photos from the Santo Domingo orphanage clinic. I’ll definitely post some from San Juan later, and I’ll also be posting more than what’s below to the Photo Gallery eventually.

Yesterday, Thursday, proved to be a big day, also. On hand were new Yankees manager Joe Girardi, his new bench coach, Rob Thomson, and future Hall of Famer, relief pitcher extraordinaire, Mariano Rivera. Alas (sigh), I failed to get any pictures of the three. Girardi gave a pep talk to the team in the morning and Rivera talked to them later in the afternoon after their game against the Florida Marlins team.

I got to meet, shake hands and talk a bit with Girardi, Thomson, and Pena, and they all had kind and encouraging words about what I’m doing with the club. Very motivating for me.

Still no sign of Brian Cashman or Felix Lopez, though I dare say they are busy with the efforts to re-sign Alex Rodriguez. It’s been reported (just one source of hundreds) that he’s going to sign a 10-year, $275 million contract with the Yanks, a fairly stunning development. I’m all for it. He’s a great player, one who will probably go down as one of the all-time greats in baseball history. I think it’s a good thing that he’ll be spending the large majority of his career with the Yankees. Besides, who else can afford that kind of money, though rumors also reported that the Mets and the Angels were interested in signing him, too.

Ok, here are the orphanage photos. Some of them are pretty large files, but if you read all of the above post, they should have loaded by now. As always, click on the photo to see a larger image.

Six future major leaguers, perhaps?

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Part of the large crowd that was on hand.

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Tony Pena, flanked by Melky Cabrera (left) and Edwar Ramirez, speaks to the crowd.

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The presentation of the check for $25,000 to Food For the Poor.

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This is one of the Yankee camp players, pitcher Ivan Nova. Yeah, the kids are short, but Nova stands about 6 feet, 4 inches. For some reason, the kids were flocking to him for his autograph. He’s a good guy who speaks decent English, and I hope he makes it to the Bigs some day. He played for the Class A Charleston, SC RiverDogs last year. I told him his nickname, if and when he gets to the Majors, will probably be Ivan the Terrible, but he said it’s going to be Super Nova.

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One of the coaches gives a clinic to future Yankee pitchers.

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A little fielding instruction. There were different clinics going on all over the fairly large complex–instructions on pitching, fielding, throwing, running and more.

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One of the visiting American minor leaguers signs autographs.

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One of the American players poses with a group of youngsters.

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And, finally, Jairo Heredia, another great guy from the camp, poses with a group of kids. Last year Jairo played for the Gulf Coast League Yankees, based in Tampa.

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I also forgot to mention that on Tuesday, I was interviewed by George Gedda, a former writer for the Associated Press (Google his name, and you’ll come up with a ton of articles he’s written). He’s in the process of writing a book about Dominican baseball culture and wanted to learn more about the English language teaching aspect in which I’m involved. George is staying in the D.R. until February, so the book will come out sometime after that. Look for it in bookstores everywhere.

I’m up to an hour and ten minutes in my daily jogging sessions. My ankle’s been bothering me a bit, but once I start running, the pain goes away. It seems to be stiff more than anything else. I just hope it doesn’t get more serious. It could ruin my future chances to play with the Yanks. 😎

More later.