Mientkiewicz taking on his former team

Mientkiewicz taking on former team

PITTSBURGH -- Doug Mientkiewicz walked to his locker, sat down and muttered under his breath, "I knew this was coming," as a horde of reporters came following after him.

The former Yankees first baseman-turned-Pirates utility player knew that this series against New York was his time to talk. Everyone wanted to know one thing: What's it like to be a Yankee?

"It's win or go home," said Mientkiewicz, who started in right field against his former team on Tuesday. "You get in that room and they expect greatness. That's the way it works. The same thing that makes it tough makes it great. They expect a championship, and if you don't get it done, they'll reshuffle the deck."

Mientkiewicz said he was one of those cards that were reshuffled out of the deck after the Bronx Bombers lost to the Indians in the 2007 American League Divisional Series. In the regular season, Mientkiewicz appeared in 72 games and batted .283 with five homers and 24 RBIs.

"The one thing I did notice as a Yankee, it definitely did elevate everybody's game -- some good, some bad," he said. "You definitely knew when you walked through that tunnel, you were going to get every team's 'A' game every single night. If you didn't perform well, you were let know right away."

Then Mientkiewicz, who went 2-for-3 with one RBI in the Pirates' 12-5 win Tuesday, was asked what was the difference between the Yankees and Red Sox, whom he played for in 2004 and won a World Series with.

"Both sides goofed around," he said. "But the Red Sox were a little freer to do it out in the open. Once the game started, both sides were businesslike.

"The biggest hurdle for me was I thought it was all business when I got to New York. It is, but you understand those guys have fun, too."

Coincidentally, Tuesday's game was Mientkiewicz's 1,000th career Major League game. He admits that number makes him feel old, but it doesn't make him feel any less talented.

"I'm excited," he said. "My wife brought it up to me. It means a lot. I didn't think I would get this far playing the game. I have a lot of people to thank. I'm looking forward to it. I was hoping it would be at first base. Hopefully, there's about [500] to 700 more.

"Every day I feel old. I feel older when I have to run that far in between innings. I'm use to a short little jog. I'm completely gasped out of breath when I get back to the dugout."

Interleague record: 61-100 overall, 4-6 in 2008

2008 Interleague schedule
June 13 at Orioles: Lost, 9-6
June 14 at Orioles: Lost, 8-7
June 15 at Orioles: Won, 5-4 (10 innings)
June 17 at White Sox: Lost, 16-5
June 18 at White Sox: Lost, 7-2
June 19 at White Sox: Lost, 13-8
June 20 vs. Blue Jays: Won, 1-0
June 21 vs. Blue Jays: Won, 6-3
June 22 vs. Blue Jays: Lost, 8-5
June 24 vs. Yankees: Won, 12-5
June 25-26 vs. Yankees
June 27-29 vs. Rays

Pitching matchup
PIT: LHP Zach Duke (4-4, 3.91 ERA)
Duke was brilliant in his last start against the Blue Jays on Friday. He was efficient in every facet of the game, throwing 64 of his 97 pitches for strikes. He went a solid seven innings and allowed no runs and six hits. Duke continues to be the Pirates' most consistent starter throughout the 2008 season and looks to continue his streak against the Yankees, whom he has never faced in his career.

NYY: RHP Joba Chamberlain (1-2, 2.36 ERA)
In his fourth career start, Chamberlain pitched 5 2/3 solid innings, fanning nine in a no-decision against San Diego on Thursday. Chamberlain threw 100 pitches -- 58 for strikes -- holding the Padres to one run, four hits and three walks. Of the nine strikeouts, eight were swinging.

Bucs bits
Pirates right fielder Xavier Nady took batting practice and did an entire workout before Tuesday's game. He could potentially make his first start since June 14 on Wednesday. ... Pirates Hall of Fame slugger Ralph Kiner will be among the more than 40 Hall of Famers who will be honored on the field prior to the 2008 All-Star Game as a gesture to the majesty and history of Yankee Stadium during its last year. The pregame ceremony will begin at 8 p.m. ET and will air live on FOX. ... Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter had nothing but nice things to say about PNC Park, the stadium he played the 2006 All-Star Game at. "The stadium is outstanding," he said prior to Tuesday's game. ... The Pirates have announced the details of the organization's annual African-American Heritage Weekend on Friday and Saturday as the Bucs take on the Rays. Throughout the weekend, events and activities will highlight the contributions of African-Americans to the Pirates, Major League Baseball and the Pittsburgh community. For more information, visit pirates.com.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSNP

On radio
• WPGB-FM 104.7

Up next
• Thursday: Pirates (Paul Maholm, 5-5, 4.41) vs. Yankees (Mike Mussina, 10-5, 3.93), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Pirates (Ian Snell, 3-7, 5.99) vs. Rays (Scott Kazmir, 6-3, 2.03), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Pirates (TBD) vs. Rays (Edwin Jackson, 4-6, 4.35), 7:05 p.m. ET

Todd Krise is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.