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YORK -- The Yankees anticipate the day Brett Gardner heals enough to push his problematic right arm into a pinstriped uniform shirt again and return to left field. They look to that as-yet-undetermined date with less urgency than they might have otherwise, if only because these days, Dewayne Wise pushes both legs into pinstriped pants.
He does so one leg at a time, mind you. Wise dresses in conventional sequence; no superstar is he. Quite a valuable commodity, however. He is the kind of player essential for a veteran -- read older -- team with aspirations for a run into late October, a player with fresh legs who can catch the ball, run the bases, hit a little bit, never embarrass his manager and, as an added bonus, deceive an umpire on occasion.
Wise is the type of player the Yankees always seem to have in their midst, on their 40-man roster or at Triple-A, standing next to the elevator, the button already pushed. Think back to Mariano Duncan, Gerald Williams, Luis Sojo and further back Enos Slaughter and Dale Long.
The Yankees operate that way. Money helps in that regard, of course; a willingness to spend it does, too. A prescient general manager is the other necessary ingredient.
So it was in December that Brian Cashman, already a wise man, made a Wise move, filling a potential need before it became an active problem. So it was that each of the last two nights, the signing of Wise contributed to a Yankees victory over the Indians -- 6-4 on Tuesday and 7-1 on Monday. He hit a two-run home run and a run-scoring triple on Monday night, and he followed that on Tuesday with an unwitting salute to Derek Jeter on the Yankees captain's 38th birthday, leaving the field and landing in the seats in foul territory, producing a seventh-inning third out for winning pitcher Phil Hughes.
That Wise never caught the foul fly hit by Jack Hannahan was immaterial. Third-base umpire Mike DiMuro called it a catch, and Hughes left a runner on base and retreated to the dugout, where the Yankees tried to present a poker face so as not to show up DiMuro. They congratulated Wise for the best catch he never made.
"[DiMuro] signaled really quick, so he was out," Wise said later between smirks and telling glances. "No, I didn't have to sell it. [DiMuro] never asked to see the ball."
Good thing, because the ball was in the hands of a fan who had retrieved it after Wise hadn't.
"I wasn't going to argue with [the umpire]," Wise said. "Usually, they want to see the ball in the glove. He didn't ask. I just ran off the field."
Wise was surprised.
"That he signaled [out] so quick? ... Yeah."
It seems Wise lives a charmed life or that he is well practiced at the art of deception. A replay of Monday night's alleged triple showed he was out at third. And he was credited with an assist on a putout at the plate in Washington, D.C., 10 days earlier when, in fact, the runner was safe.
"I'm not doing it on purpose," Wise said.
"DiMuro acknowledged his erroneous call after he had seen a replay. The ball hit the pocket of Wise's glove, but the left fielder never squeezed it.
"Now that I've seen the tape, it's obvious the ball fell out of his glove," the umpire said. "In hindsight, I should have asked him to show me the ball, since he fell into the stands and out of my line of vision. ... I believed the ball was in his glove when he came out of the stands."