In light of the Yankees’ decision to make outfield prospect Clint Frazier cut his hair Friday, this is a good time to revisit a piece from 1991 on the team’s longtime first baseman, Don Mattingly. Then with the New York Times (and now with the YES Network), Jack Curry wrote that Mattingly refused to obey owner George Steinbrenner’s hair policy, so New York benched and fined its captain as a result. That came two months after the Yankees denied Mattingly’s request for a trade. “Maybe I don’t belong in the organization anymore,” a frustrated Mattingly said at the time. “I talked to [general manager Gene Michael] about moving me earlier in the year. He said we’ll talk at the end of the year. Maybe this is their way of saying we don’t need you anymore.” Mattingly added that Michael wanted an “organization that will be puppets for him and do what he wants.” Michael fired back, saying: “He’s the captain and he’s got a big contract. If we asked the captain to get his hair cut, he should get it cut.”
Despite Mattingly’s dispute with the Yankees, he went on to spend the next four seasons with the club before retiring after the 1995 campaign. The Bombers were the only team for which Mattingly played, of course, in an excellent career that began in 1982. As for the Yankees, although Steinbrenner passed away in 2010, his daughter, part-owner Jennifer Steinbrenner, has kept her father’s rule in place, per Billy Witz of the Times. Many, including River Ave Blues’ Mike Axisa, aren’t happy about it.
Here’s more from the Bronx:
- Trade rumors have connected the Yankees and White Sox ace Jose Quintana over the past few months, but no deal is brewing between the teams, reports Curry (video link). Nothing has changed since January for the Yanks, who were then loath to subtract from their loaded farm system to acquire Quintana and remain unwilling to trade a prospect haul for the left-hander as Opening Day approaches.
- The Yankees are reportedly willing to listen to offers for utilityman Rob Refsnyder, and with that in mind, Curry notes that he’s going to have a difficult time cracking their 25-man roster. If New York goes with a four-man bench, odds are it’ll be Chris Carter, Austin Romine, Aaron Hicks and Ronald Torreyes who serve as their reserves, says Curry, who points out that Refsnyder does have a minor league option remaining. Thus, it’s not necessarily a must for the Yankees to trade the soon-to-be 26-year-old.
- Although he missed most of last season with an elbow injury and hasn’t pitched above the High-A level, right-hander James Kaprielian has a chance to end up in the majors sometime this year, according to George A. King III and Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. The 23-year-old, whom the Yankees chose 16th overall pick in the 2015 draft, threw a three-inning simulation game Friday and could make his next appearance in a spring training contest, manager Joe Girardi told King and Davidoff. Girardi believes Kaprielian has “a ton of talent” and will have an opportunity to “move pretty quickly” toward the big leagues if he stays healthy.