Recently arrived New York Yankee Al Leiter, bitching about Jack McKeon to the Orlando Sun-Sentinel’s Mike Bernadino :
In many ways, Leiter has landed in dreamland as he brings his long, distinguished career to the conclusion it deserves. After all, he is a son of New Jersey who started out as a Yankees farmhand two decades ago.
But for all his gratitude with his new surroundings, there’s a part of Leiter that will never feel right about this season. That’s because he pitched so horribly in his homecoming with the Marlins, they essentially paid him $7.6 million to go away after 16 starts.
“I’m not throwing darts, and I’m not trying to blame anyone,” Leiter said in the Yankees’ clubhouse. “I failed. It was my fault. I didn’t do well. I feel bad about it, mostly for Jeffrey [Loria].”
Asked why things didn’t work out, Leiter gave a heavy sigh.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of reasons that I won’t share with you. Whatever I say to you will just come across in not a good light. I’d rather take the high road.”
Pressed, Leiter seemed to point a finger toward manager Jack McKeon, who quickly tired of watching the veteran pitcher’s tightrope act. Leiter noted, for instance, that Yankees manager Joe Torre regularly checks on him and expressed public confidence in him, even after three straight poor starts.
“I’ve been here for three weeks and I’ve had more conversations with this manager … unbelievable,” Leiter said. “I’ve pitched inconsistently and they’re very pleased to have me here. It’s just different. Not saying either one is worse or better. It’s just different.”
Leiter again voiced his displeasure with feeling like he had to “try out from spring training.” He cited feeling “no confidence from the manager” and said he could remember having just one substantial conversation with McKeon, that coming in early January during the recruiting luncheon for Carlos Delgado.
“He’s a nice man,” Leiter said of McKeon. “He wasn’t not nice to me. He’s just different. I was given the ball by a manager, and that’s good enough. You should be mature enough and professional enough to do your job under any circumstances, and I didn’t do it.”
“It doesn’t have to do with confidence,” Leiter said. “It has to do with recognizing that when you’re in a place and you feel that not everybody who is deemed in charge wants you there and you feel it.
“I’m not even saying Jack. It was just a feeling, and it became apparent early in spring training. There were some signs that came up, but at the time I just thought I was delusional. But then as it all plays out, of course, I wasn’t.”