The Yankees Hope To Love Sidney
by: Joe McDonald | Publisher and Editor-in-Chief | Friday, July 14, 2006

BRONX, NY – In their never-ending quest to upgrade their starting pitching, the Yankees welcomed right-hander Sidney Ponson to the club earlier tonight.

“The only thing I know about Ponson, is that he can get people out,” manager Joe Torre said. “The reason he moves from club to club is consistency. So we will see what he has.”

The former Baltimore Oriole was designated for assignment by the St. Louis Cardinals and after looking for work, chose the Yankees over the Red Sox, because he “always wanted to play in New York.

“It’s a great team and a great tradition here,” Ponson said. “When I was in Baltimore and always wanted to be here when I faced them.”

Also Ponson, who is wearing No. 24, gets back to the American League East and that’s a plus because he has knowledge of the league. “I know the hitters and it’s easier to pitch. I don’t have to run the bases. You just get the three outs and come back in the dugout and worry about the next three hitters.”

The right-hander also feels he has turned the corner with his battle with alcohol. Last August 25, he was arrested for his third DUI and had his contract voided by the Orioles only a few days later. That scare forced him to make some major life decisions.

“I looked at myself for a long time into a mirror,” he said. “I didn’t want to worry my mother, so I checked myself into a clinic for 30 days and now I am clean. I put myself in a good situation, so now when I go out with my girlfriend, I have dinner with a water or a coke, rather than having a beer.”

Ponson - who is lifetime 76-91 with a 4.81 ERA with Baltimore, San Francisco and St. Louis - said he still struggles with the disease everyday and chooses ice cream now over booze.

But, the 29 year-old still needs to get back to the form that made him a 15-game winner in 2003. He feels he will be able to pitch well if he can keep his head in the game.

“I have tendencies to lose my focus,” Ponson said. “The catcher in St. Louis would come out to me when he thought I would lose my focus. I need to talk to my catchers to stay on the same page.”

Torre agrees: “What I have seen from the side is frustration and lack of patience when he struggles. He gets a little exasperated sometime. The one thing is when you get a little bit older, you gain something from the experience.”

The right-hander takes Shawn Chacon’s spot in the rotation and starts on Tuesday against Seattle.