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b-ball-lunachick
06-01-01, 10:28 AM
When I first saw the title of this article, I thought Lupica was reduced to writing about butt cheeks, lol :lol:

Spencer has never been a favorite of mine, but I feel for the guy -- he's caught a tough break....his attitude seems much better too, and I hope he gets his stroke back because he could really strengthen our bench when he's ready...


Spencer's Left Behind
Stuck in minors, wants another swing
with Yanks

by Mike Lupica

http://www.nydailynews.com/2001-06-01/Metro_Sports/Baseball/a-113279.asp

He waited his turn in the minors while the phenoms passed him by, one after another. Shane Spencer was never the hot kid. He was never an untouchable. He was never mentioned in trades when the Yankees talked about putting together a package of kids and bringing in another big name. He was never somebody to watch, until September of 1998, maybe the most magical Yankee season of them all. Then Shane Spencer started hitting home runs for one magical month. And suddenly he was part of perhaps the greatest baseball team of them all. Finally, after all the years of waiting, he was somebody to watch.

There was even the day at the Stadium, in September, in the home run season of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, when they put McGwire's total on the scoreboard at the Stadium, and Sosa's, and underneath was Shane Spencer, who was on this crazy home run hot streak of his own, hitting seven home runs between the 18th of September and the 27th; who had come out swinging when he finally got his chance.

"I was what they called an organizational player my whole career," Spencer was saying the other day. "And then I was something more."

There were two home runs against Texas in the playoffs, the one in Game 3 giving the Yankees their sweep and putting them in the second round. Darryl Strawberry had been diagnosed with cancer, and maybe those were Darryl's home runs Spencer hit against the Rangers. Spencer was 26, old for a rookie. He had waited a long time to make swings like these for the Yankees.

He ended up back in the minors the next season. There was even a scare with an irregular heartbeat. But by last season, he was the starting left fielder for the Yankees on Opening Day. He hit another home run, this one to beat the Angels. The Yankees were going for three World Series in a row and four in five years, and if Spencer wasn't a star, he was a part of it. He was one of them.

And for now, maybe forever, he is not. It was not cancer that took him out of play, gave somebody else his spot and his swings. Just a moment in the outfield at Shea Stadium, on a Sunday night in July, on a sore, stiff right knee he had hurt a few days earlier, running into the left field wall at Yankee Stadium. Spencer was hitting .282 at the time. He had nine home runs in the Yankees' first 73 games, with 40 RBI. It was the night before the All-Star break. He would take those numbers and take a few days off and come back strong for the second half.

Then Melvin Mora, the leadoff batter, hit one to left. Shane Spencer started to make his move for the ball and felt his right knee explode. The injury is known as a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The shorthand is a torn ACL. It is a much longer story than that, sometimes one that changes the rest of your baseball life.

"The knee had blown up after I hit the wall the week before," Spencer said. "They looked at it, but they couldn't see anything. Maybe there was a tear already. I remember thinking as I was warming up that night that I couldn't get it loose. Then Mora hit that ball. I planted, started to turn, and my knee just snapped."

That was 11 months ago. When the Yankees go into Shea Stadium to play the Mets in a couple of weeks, Spencer will still be with the Columbus Clippers, where he is hitting in the .230s, with three home runs, trying to show the Yankees he can come all the way back, that he can still play the outfield and swing a bat the way he did before he got hurt. Even though his friend Chuck Knoblauch is the Yankee left fielder now. Even if the Yankees have moved on without him.

Spencer says he watches Yankee games when they are on in the Clippers clubhouse. He says he has taken an apartment in Columbus that is five minutes or so from the ballpark. He thought he had left Columbus and the minor leagues behind for good by last season, when he had a starting job with the Yankees. Then something snapped. Then David Justice was a Yankee on his way to hitting 41 home runs and Alfonso Soriano was coming fast and Knoblauch couldn't get his throwing problems straightened out at second base.

"I'm coming back," Spencer said. "I believe I'm gonna find my swing and get back there to Yankee Stadium. I know I'm not gonna get my old job back in the starting lineup. I just want Joe (Torre) and the rest of them to know that I can still play the outfield, that I'll be happy to do whatever job they want me to do. I'll fill in for somebody. I know this is a tough break, but I've seen guys like Darryl face a lot tougher. But I didn't quit before and I'm not gonna quit now. There's nothing I can do about what happened to me. But I'm gonna believe they still want me until somebody tells me they don't."

The right knee was not right in spring training. It is Spencer's back leg. He could not plant. He had been told it would take him a full year to recover. Spencer was sure he could do it faster. He had wasted enough time in his career already. But he was not ready. The Yankees decided Soriano, the kind of phenom who had always passed Spencer by, was going to be the left fielder, ready or not. Then Soriano switched with Knoblauch. The Yankees moved on. Spencer moved back to Columbus.

When he started playing, he didn't get a hit in his first 20 trips to the plate. He is doing better now. He says the home runs will come. He is just happy to be playing ball again, even if it is a long way from the Stadium.

"Today's the best day I've felt," Spencer said on Tuesday, after resting the knee the day before. "I'm getting myself into game shape."

He paused, and in the background you could hear voices in the Clippers clubhouse as the baseball day, another in the minors for Shane Spencer, began in the late afternoon.

"I'm a realist," he said. "I know the Yankees are winning. I know this isn't gonna be easy. Nothing ever was for me. I just tell myself I'm gonna come back stronger and better. I look down the road and see myself back in a Yankee uniform. That's all I want, to be healthy and to be a Yankee again. And if that doesn't happen, I just want to be healthy."

He spent all those years in the minors, an organizational player waiting his turn. Spencer had to wonder if the game was passing him by. Now he has to wonder if it is happening to him again. Maybe he already knows. Either way, he waits his turn again.

Chris
06-01-01, 10:32 AM
I read this article on the way in to work and was impressed with Spencers atitude, I don't know how you can help but root for this guy.

Winger03
06-01-01, 11:17 AM
I know a couple of guys like him who are in the Orioles organization. Always considered more suspect than prospect, never invited to winter ball, just a lot of hard work and a strong belief in themselves.

One guy has "made it" - pitcher Josh Towers, and one is still plugging away in AA - catcher Tom McGee.

My hats off to all of those who toil in obscurity while awaiting the big call up.

JeanC
06-01-01, 12:06 PM
Just as long as that knee is strong for the outfield!

Glad to hear about his offensive hitting though! Those homeruns & rbis are promising yet for a kid who has had to struggle on his way up into the majors!

:D

BBMOM
06-01-01, 12:45 PM
b-ball luna thanks for the article on Shane. We are pulling for him to make it back. If it can't be with the yanks then so be it, but we hope he gets another day to play.

Winger we know about players like the two you mentioned. After 10 plus years (most of it with the Yankees) our son finally got his day. To see his face after that first game I will never forget. It got to be a joke around here that he was going to pass Clay's minor league mark, or maybe he did!

Ct.Fan
06-01-01, 12:55 PM
I think he'll make it back, and make a huge contribution later in the year...just a hunch. Hang in there Shane!

Luvtino
06-01-01, 04:14 PM
I feel for the guy. Seems like he has a good attitude. He's got the right mix of optimism and realism. His best bet is just to keep grinding down in AAA, get the knee healthy and get well enough to play the o/f. His bat still has a way to go, but as he gets healthier that should get better as well.

I don't think his future is with the Yankees, but I can see him being a starter elsewhere.

madforyanks
06-02-01, 09:06 AM
Originally posted by BBMOM
b-ball luna thanks for the article on Shane. We are pulling for him to make it back. If it can't be with the yanks then so be it, but we hope he gets another day to play.

Winger we know about players like the two you mentioned. After 10 plus years (most of it with the Yankees) our son finally got his day. To see his face after that first game I will never forget. It got to be a joke around here that he was going to pass Clay's minor league mark, or maybe he did!

Nice plug on Shane, and where is Tom playing? Glad to hear he finally made it!

BBMOM
06-03-01, 01:43 AM
Tom is with Oakland.

Winger03
06-04-01, 08:00 AM
Originally posted by BBMOM
Tom is with Oakland.

BBMOM: Can you tell those (like me) who don't know your son's last name what it is???

CarolR
06-04-01, 09:18 AM
BBMOM, If I have the right person here I am good friends with B. Recesso's Family-

Shane will be showing up just at the right moment. I can't wait!

Jim F.
06-04-01, 09:41 AM
Whenever I read the title of this thread, I think that Spencer must have had some strange "sitting" accident...

;)

-jim

BBMOM
06-04-01, 10:31 AM
Winger03 it's Wilson speaking of Josh Towers he did a job on the A's the other day. Tom caugh that game and didn't get a hit off him but he did get HIT by him!!! Josh pitched a good game.

CarolR not sure who you are talking about, but anytime Shane shows up is a good moment he's a lot of fun to be around.

CarolR
06-04-01, 11:54 AM
Shane and Brian were great friends in Tampa- He was their computer man and left the Yanks last year.

1TonHumanHamsterWheel
06-04-01, 01:25 PM
Shane did a good job yesterday (in the Keisler game) by going 2-for-2 with 2 walks and a run. He came into the game hitting only .217 but I think he's making a comeback. He played right field, which is where I hope he plays for the Yanks next year after Paulie retires. This guy has been through a lot but has also accomplished a lot, and I wish Spencer the best of luck.

Winger03
06-05-01, 08:16 AM
Originally posted by BBMOM
Winger03 it's Wilson speaking of Josh Towers he did a job on the A's the other day. Tom caugh that game and didn't get a hit off him but he did get HIT by him!!! Josh pitched a good game.

BBMOM: Thanks for the info. I'll follow him now. Which minor league teams has he played for? I'm surprised Josh hit him. He is a real control pitcher, rarely walks people, and NEVER hits them. Interesting.