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Crazy day for Kellenberg grad with Yankees

Reid Gorecki tracks a fly ball during a

Reid Gorecki tracks a fly ball during a spring training workout at the Yankees' minor league complex in Tampa, Fla. (Mar. 23, 2010) Credit: AP

TAMPA, Fla. - Ever have one of those 24-hour periods where a lot happens? And when it's over you try to catch your breath and remember it all before it becomes just a blur in the daily minutiae of your everyday existence.

Yankees minor-leaguer Reid Gorecki had one of those 24-hour whirlwinds on Sunday and Monday. At about 1 p.m. on Sunday he was brought into manager Joe Girardi's office, where the skipper, general manager Brian Cashman and two coaches were waiting to tell him . . .

Wait. We'll start the clock on that in a moment. First, a little background:

Reid Evan Gorecki is a 29-year-old righthanded-hitting outfielder who was born in Queens and attended Kellenberg High School in Uniondale. Drafted by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 2002 amateur draft, he made his major-league debut with the Braves last Aug. 17 at Citi Field as a defensive replacement. Two days later he got his first hit, an RBI single off Sean Green of the Mets.

Gorecki appeared in 31 games for Atlanta, picking up all of 25 at-bats. He got four more hits for a batting average of .200. His official major-league service time stands at .049 seasons.

After the season, the Braves let him go, and Gorecki was considering minor-league contract offers from the Red Sox, Rays and Brewers. Then the Yankees called.

Even for a Mets fan growing up, this was "a no-brainer," Gorecki said on Monday morning outside the Yankees' clubhouse at Steinbrenner Field.

A day earlier, Gorecki had a locker inside that clubhouse, a pretty darn nice one, crammed with uniform pants and tops and equipment, a name plate with "Gorecki 66" above it and All-Star quality locker mates to his left (Curtis Granderson) and right (Mark Teixeira).

On Monday, all that was left was a few empty hangers. And the name plate. Gorecki was back in the clubhouse, but the locker was no longer his.

Why? What happened?

Let's start the clock.

Sunday, 1 p.m.: Gorecki is called into the manager's office after the Yankees' game against the Tigers is rained out. Girardi and the other brass tell him he is being reassigned to the minor-league camp. A long shot to make the Opening Day roster, Gorecki had only 14 at-bats all of spring training. He got two hits.

"When you're not on the roster, you kind of know these things are coming," he said. "But you always hope that they last a little longer. [Girardi] told me that I impressed him, that it's just a matter of not getting at-bats and they want me to get at-bats. They thought that sending me down was the best way to do that. I agreed with them. I wasn't happy with what they were saying, but for me it was the right move. I need at-bats to get ready for the season."

So Gorecki got cleaned up, shook a few million-dollar hands and headed out for the day. On Monday morning, he would report to the minor-league side of camp, a three-minute drive from Steinbrenner Field.

He didn't know he was on the verge of getting almost as many at-bats on Monday as he had all spring and more hits than he had in his major-league career to date. And he wouldn't be facing minor-leaguers. He'd face, among others, a future Hall of Famer, a 229-game winner and a fist-pumping former phenom.

Monday, 8 a.m.: Gorecki reports to the minor-league camp and is told he has been selected along with a few other players to head back to Steinbrenner Field and take part in a hastily arranged intrasquad game. Sunday's rainout left Girardi needing a place to get work in for six of the pitchers he intends to take to Boston for the season opener, including Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Joba Chamberlain.

"They said, 'Be ready at 8:45,' " Gorecki said. "Bus leaves. Get your at-bats and that's your day today. You don't have to go on the road with us. That made me pretty happy."

Where were minor-leaguers going for their exhibition game?

"I don't even know, to be honest with you," he said. "I didn't get that far."

Who told him about the intrasquad game?

"I don't really know," he said. "I'm still new with names here."

Monday, 10:05 a.m.: Gorecki steps in against Pettitte. He is the fourth batter in a game unlike most others played in Florida. For starters, the lineup Pettitte will face is only five batters deep. The fielders are low minor-leaguers brought over to play defense for both sides. No one is keeping score. Only pitch counts matter. Some half-innings conclude after one out, some after two, some after four.

But Girardi is watching from a seat next to the Yankees' dugout. Cashman is watching from the stands behind home plate. There are maybe 30 non-players total in the 11,000-seat stadium.

Gorecki lines the second pitch he sees to rightfield. He's 0-for-1.

10:22 a.m.: Facing Pettitte again in the second inning, Gorecki lifts a lazy fly ball to left. Misplayed by the young leftfielder, it falls untouched for a gift double. 1-for-2.

10:41 a.m.: Gorecki lines a single to center against Pettitte. 2-for-3.

11:01 a.m.: Facing Chamberlain now, Gorecki leads off the bottom of the fourth with a double down the rightfield line. When it is misplayed for an error, he trots to third. 3-for-4.

11:17 a.m.: Pettitte again. With a man on first, Gorecki chops one to short, but the shortstop can't decide where to throw. Gorecki, hustling, beats it out. Another hit? Probably would be scored a fielder's choice in a real game. 3-for-5.

11:29 a.m.: Leading off the top of the sixth against Rivera, Gorecki grounds a single to center. 4-for-6.

11:43 a.m.: The at-bats are coming fast and furious now. Facing Chan Ho Park, Gorecki strikes out on a slider down and away. The bane of every righthanded hitter's existence. 4-for-7.

11:50 a.m.: Facing Damaso Marte, Gorecki rips a double off the right-centerfield wall. 5-for-8.

12:02 p.m.: Park again. Gorecki laces a sure double down the third-base line. 6-for-9.

Only . . .

The ballboy sitting on a stool down the line snares the fair ball on one hop as the players in the dugout, including CC Sabathia, who has watched the entire game, howl in laughter. If this had been a televised game, you would have seen this on "SportsCenter."

"Throw him out!" the players yell as a confused Gorecki rounds first.

The ball boy complies. He throws it to the shortstop, who flips it to second base. Gorecki, with no idea how his hard-hit ball made it back to the infield so quickly, stops and is tagged "out" a few feet before second.

Then he's told what happened. He can only smile. And take his lead off second.

12:06 p.m.: Leading off the top of the eighth against David Robertson, Gorecki lines out to deep center. 6-for-10.

12:11 p.m.: Again facing Robertson, this time as the fourth batter in the half-inning, Gorecki walks.

One batter later, the game is over. Gorecki's day - and his chance to impress - is over.

For now. But who knows what can happen tomorrow?


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