The New York Yankees won their 27th World Series championship last night, beating the Philadelphia Phillies, four games to two.
But they couldn’t have done it without the Trenton Thunder.
Of the 14 Yankees who have worn a Thunder uniform, one of them, Francisco Cervelli, was a regular with the club this season.
Cervelli, used as a third catcher, saw some ALDS time after starting the season in Double-A, hitting .190 in 16 games before injuries forced his call-up to the Bronx.
Interestingly enough, one of those injuries was to Jose Molina, who ended up going hitless in a rehab assignment with the Thunder during the first week of July.
And Brian Bruney rehabbed with the club in both 2008 and 2009, with his poor choice of words after his appearance this season earning him national attention.
Cervelli included, seven of the 14 Thunder alums on the Yankees roster were regular players at Waterfront Park over the past three seasons.
Ramiro Pena was a member of the Thunder for the past four seasons, finally staying healthy last year and emerging as a big league option off the bench this year.
Alfredo Aceves, who started for the Thunder in 2008, was used as a long man out of Joe Girardi’s bullpen in the Bronx this year and he continues to fill that role in the postseason.
Phil Coke, one of the best starters in the Eastern League last year after overcoming a rough first few weeks, is also coming out of the bullpen, serving as the club’s most reliable lefty reliever.
David Robertson was actually used as a reliever when he was with the Thunder last season, and he’s emerged as one of the more important pieces in the Yankees bullpen, helping to build the bridge to Mariano Rivera.
Part of that bridge seems to have included Joba Chamberlain, who was a starter for all of the 2009 regular season, but pitched his way out of a spot in the postseason rotation and returned to what may be his most comfortable role: Reliever. Chamberlain was a starter for Trenton in 2007, and made one relief appearance for the club when they fast tracked him to the big leagues.
And Brett Gardner spent the first half of his 2007 season as Trenton’s center fielder, currently sitting in the Top 5 of the franchise’s all-time stolen bases leaders. Now, his speed has proven to be invaluable off the Yankees bench.
The remaining players? Well, I suppose you’ve heard of Derek Jeter, who provided the club with a circus-like atmosphere during his rehab appearance with the Thunder in 2003. Hideki Matsui, who would win the World Series MVP, also rehabbed with the club during the 2006 postseason, establishing an unlikely to be broken record for press credentials issued to Japanese media members at Waterfront Park.
Matsui photos: Mike Ashmore (2006)
Phil Hughes (’06, ’07 rehab), Robinson Cano (’03-’04, ’06 rehab) and Melky Cabrera (’05) make up the final trio. Hughes has been a revelation out of the Yankees bullpen, Cano has served as the club’s starting second baseman for several years now, and Cabrera seems to have established himself as the Yankees starting center fielder.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com