In the Apple

NEW YORK — First day back on the job and the rigors of regular-season travel hit me smack in the face. Hopped on the trusty No. 4 train with about an hour and a half to spare until the Jays’ clubhouse opened. Plenty o’ time for what typically is a half-hour trip from Grand Central.

Well, two hours later, I was walking into the Stadium after a nightmarish ordeal. I was booted off one train at 149th (Yankee Stadium is at 161st in the Bronx), waited about 20 minutes for another, got on another 4 train that informed us (after we were moving) that we were going to be heading three or four stops past Yankee Stadium and we’d have to backtrack for the stops in between. Nice.

Topping it off, before we reached the “first” stop, our train came to a dead stop and stayed that way for a half hour at least. There were construction crews working on the track we were riding on. Awesome. We finally got moving again and when I got out it was another 30 minutes to get another train to head BACK to Yankee Stadium. Unreal.

I was fuming by the time I finally got to the ballyard, but there was one silverlining to all the inconveniencing. Taking the train past Yankee Stadium afforded us No. 4 hostages a sweet look into the new Yankee Stadium, which is going up very fast. Minus seats, it looked like most of the stands were complete and I had a nice view of the pressbox I’ll be sitting in someday.

I did eventually get to the “old” Yankee Stadium, where the Blue Jays were working out this afternoon. The Jays have already submitted their 25-man roster for Opening Day, but the club is still going to wait until game time on Monday to see if Matt Stairs will be available to play. There’s a chance, if he can’t go, that the club will be one man short for the first game.

If Stairs (left hip flexor) is in need of a 15-day disabled list stint, manager John Gibbons said infielder Joe Inglett would be the likely callup to fill the roster spot. Gibbons added that Rod Barajas’ right shoulder was feeling better, though the catcher was wearing a hefty ice pack on said arm after the workout. Not surprising, no, but worth mentioning.

Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi gave us the daily Alex Rios Contract Extension Update, which basically was that there was no update. The deadline for finalizing the six-year, $65 million deal remains up until game time. Ricciardi did note, however, that contract talks with Aaron Hill will be postponed until next offseason. If Rios doesn’t give the go-ahead before the first pitch, it’ll be the same wait til’ next year deal with his deal.

That’s about it for the first workout happenings. I did chat with Randy Wells for a bit and he made sure to tour Monument Park in center field and took some pictures there after showing up at the park. That’s the first thing I did when I visited Yankee Stadium for the first time.

I showed up extra early, when it was just me and a guy watering the field in the ballpark, and I went to see the monuments. One of my favorite parts of this job is being in a stadium when there is no one there. Not a lot of people get to experience that.

Heading out to P.J. Clarke’s for some dinner and perhaps a brew. I’ll catch you all from Opening Day tomorrow.

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