It was Spring Training 2000, my first Minor League camp. I’m eating at the Cheesecake Factory in Tampa. Bernie Williams walks by with his wife and stops by and says, “Hey, Marlon, how are you doing?” I look at him and I’m thinking to myself, how in the world do you know who I am? You’re Bernie Williams. Same thing with Derek Jeter, same thing with Gerald Williams. It seemed like that whole click, Posada, all of them, they treated baseball like a fraternity, like it should be. Everyone was equal, and it didn’t matter who you were. If you were a part of a team or an organization, they treated you like they were your brother. I’ve always respected that, I’ve always respected the Yankees because of the way they handle things.
That’s always been in the back of my mind and that’s the way I’ve tried to be. I didn’t know how in the world they knew all the guys like that in that area — you had the Yankees, the Phillies and the Blue Jays in Tampa area. I guess that’s the Yankee Way. That was my first Spring Training. Bernie Williams. I’ve always respected that. It’s a respect thing. Just the way they handle themselves and treat everyone the same. Do they do that here? There are some guys that do. I try to be like that.
First off, I’m at the three-week mark, so I get to start running today. I’ll be running around on the field Monday so I’m progressing just like I want to and healing. Week No. 3, start running; Week No. 4, ramp it up a little bit and more activities on the field. Week No. 5, go out for a rehab assignment. Right now, I’m on pace.
Today I started shagging a little bit harder to find out how my legs feel. I’ve been long tossing for a week now so my arm’s still there. The strength is still there. I’ve been in the weight room every single day. I’ll go in there three times during the game and I’m hitting during the game, too. I’ve been working hard. I have to make sure when I go on the rehab assignment, I’m not DH’ing. I want to go in center field and start running around and play nine innings. Everything’s going positive as far as my healing.
With the team, it’s been a tough road trip, tough teams. We haven’t played the way we wanted to play — everybody knows that. It seems like all aspects of the game aren’t there at the same time — pitching, hitting, defense, timely hitting. We have to figure out a way to get Oswalt today and go back home with a win under our belt. It’d be positive on the plane ride home. Hopefully, we’ll get some home cooking and try to straighten this thing out.
It’s not too late. I told some of the older guys if we can decrease this thing by six, seven games going into the All-Star break, and be five, six games out, we still have a chance. We’re not focusing on trying to get a 15-game winning streak but trying to win a series at a time. Hopefully, nobody takes off in the Central.
It seems like it doesn’t get easier. The Brewers are winning, they’re hot. They’re not playing at home, which is a good thing but that won’t make it any easier. Just the Yankees being the Yankees, they’re professionals, they’re expected to win and they’re going to come in and do their thing. We have to get our focus. We know we can play any team.
I’m glad everyone has taken steps to make sure I’m OK and they’re not rushing to get me back on the field but making sure I heal correctly. That’s the main thing. I’ve seen Dr. Rosin here in Chicago. I’ve already had three, four appointments with him and I’m going to see him again today. I saw a facial guy, and in Boston, I saw neurologists, I saw radiologists, ophthalmologists. I had three facial doctors — they checked me, and then one guy went and got his boss and the other guy went and got his boss. I had the team doctors, Dr. Adams and Dr. Gryzlo, when I came back here look at it. It hit me in a sensitive spot. It hasn’t really been tough because I’ve had a great support system. I’ve had great doctors working with me and nobody has misstepped anything. I can’t be thankful enough for that. My support system with my family and friends and the fans writing in and wishing me well, I can’t thank them enough.
I have no clue when I’ll be back. All I know is I have to heal first, that’s first thing. Second, start baseball activity. Third, then I have to go on a rehab assignment and see how my body feels and see how I respond as far as seeing the ball. It could be a timely thing or it could be very quick.
I’ll be fine. Watching pitches and everything, I haven’t flinched. The ball’s been thrown at me. I’m one of those guys when something happens, you say, Oh well, it happened, and move on. Until you get that first ball actually thrown near you or at you, you’re not sure how your body or your mind is going to respond. Hopefully, I’ll be OK.
It’s nice to come out here — I can’t wait to come out here and see the fans and salute the bleacher bums.