Results tagged ‘ Yankees ’

Hangin’ with Hideki and friends

The first workout of Spring Training never changes. You just want to get through it. You know you’re going to be a little sore the next day, and you’re just happy to get it out of the way. Every player can tell you that.

No matter how many sprints you do or how hard you work out in the gym in the offseason, baseball shape is totally different. Today felt like all first days do, like you didn’t do a thing in the offseason. And I really worked hard coming off my sports hernia surgery after Thanksgiving. After six to eight weeks, I didn’t feel it anymore and was able to go out, do sprints, do a lot of lifting.  I started running hard on Jan. 5, so I’m in good shape. Even so, you still feel it on the first day.

All in all, it went well. I felt pretty good swinging the bat and moving around in the outfield. No problems at all with the groin. Didn’t even think about it, really.

It was good to be out there, in the Arizona sun, hanging out with the guys, taking some swings, getting the kinks out. I spent some time with Hideki Matsui, talking in the outfield, and that was fun. I’m really excited to be playing with a guy who’s a legend back home in Japan, Godzilla of the Yomiuri Giants. He’s an Angel now, and I think he’s going to like it here.

The Quiet Assassin, that’s what I think I’ll call Matsui.

I’ll miss Vladimir Guerrero, one of the greatest guys I’ve ever played with, but I think Matsui can really help us. He’s one of the quietest clutch hitters in the game. When I was with the Twins and he came to the Yankees in 2003, 2004, he came up with so many clutch hits against us. I got tired of chasing all those balls he hit.

He has great balance, a smooth, easy swing. You can see why he hits lefties so well with that balance. He stays in and stays on the ball. He’s going to be a good fit in our lineup. We’ve got some guys who can drive the ball, including Brandon Wood. I’m not worried about Brandon. He sits right next to me here, and he’s cool. He’s got some serious power and can handle the glove like a pro. This isn’t his first rodeo. He knows his way around.  

Matsui hit one ball over the wall in right in batting practice, and I was kidding around with him, telling him not to hit my car. It was parked out that way. I might have to move it over a little.

I keep saying I’m going to be more conscious of running into walls after what happened last year, so there I was again, going after a ball against the wall. That’s just me, man. I guess it’s who I am. That’s why they call me Spiderman.

The Japanese media is here in big numbers for Matsui. They’re very polite, very kind and respectful. I appreciate that. They were asking me who’s nicer, Matsui or me. That’s easy, I told them. Matsui is nicer than me. He’s definitely a very good guy. He’s special.

Sometimes I get upset and I’m ready to fight, I told them. I’m a good guy, but when you push my button, I can get mad. Matsui, if you push his button, he still smiles. That’s why he’s nicer than me.

This is going to be very interesting with all these new people around us. They’re here to cover Matsui, but they’re also here to cover baseball. And we plan to put on a good show for our new friends.    

Hangin with Hideki and friends

The first workout of Spring Training never changes. You just want to get through it. You know you’re going to be a little sore the next day, and you’re just happy to get it out of the way. Every player can tell you that.

No matter how many sprints you do or how hard you work out in the gym in the offseason, baseball shape is totally different. Today felt like all first days do, like you didn’t do a thing in the offseason. And I really worked hard coming off my sports hernia surgery after Thanksgiving. After six to eight weeks, I didn’t feel it anymore and was able to go out, do sprints, do a lot of lifting.  I started running hard on Jan. 5, so I’m in good shape. Even so, you still feel it on the first day.

All in all, it went well. I felt pretty good swinging the bat and moving around in the outfield. No problems at all with the groin. Didn’t even think about it, really.

It was good to be out there, in the Arizona sun, hanging out with the guys, taking some swings, getting the kinks out. I spent some time with Hideki Matsui, talking in the outfield, and that was fun. I’m really excited to be playing with a guy who’s a legend back home in Japan, Godzilla of the Yomiuri Giants. He’s an Angel now, and I think he’s going to like it here.

The Quiet Assassin, that’s what I think I’ll call Matsui.

I’ll miss Vladimir Guerrero, one of the greatest guys I’ve ever played with, but I think Matsui can really help us. He’s one of the quietest clutch hitters in the game. When I was with the Twins and he came to the Yankees in 2003, 2004, he came up with so many clutch hits against us. I got tired of chasing all those balls he hit.

He has great balance, a smooth, easy swing. You can see why he hits lefties so well with that balance. He stays in and stays on the ball. He’s going to be a good fit in our lineup. We’ve got some guys who can drive the ball, including Brandon Wood. I’m not worried about Brandon. He sits right next to me here, and he’s cool. He’s got some serious power and can handle the glove like a pro. This isn’t his first rodeo. He knows his way around.  

Matsui hit one ball over the wall in right in batting practice, and I was kidding around with him, telling him not to hit my car. It was parked out that way. I might have to move it over a little.

I keep saying I’m going to be more conscious of running into walls after what happened last year, so there I was again, going after a ball against the wall. That’s just me, man. I guess it’s who I am. That’s why they call me Spiderman.

The Japanese media is here in big numbers for Matsui. They’re very polite, very kind and respectful. I appreciate that. They were asking me who’s nicer, Matsui or me. That’s easy, I told them. Matsui is nicer than me. He’s definitely a very good guy. He’s special.

Sometimes I get upset and I’m ready to fight, I told them. I’m a good guy, but when you push my button, I can get mad. Matsui, if you push his button, he still smiles. That’s why he’s nicer than me.

This is going to be very interesting with all these new people around us. They’re here to cover Matsui, but they’re also here to cover baseball. And we plan to put on a good show for our new friends.    

Abreu, another Gold Glove and charity golf

I just got into Arizona to host a charity golf event, and I figured it was a good time to catch up.

First off, I want to say I’m really happy we signed my buddy Bobby Abreu to come back and play for the Angels. I’ll get to pick his brain some more now. Bobby’s so smart, and so valuable. He can hit in a lot of places in the lineup, and he’s a great leader, sharing all his knowledge and wisdom. He also cracks everybody up with his sense of humor, and you need that over a long season.

I spoke with Chone Figgins a few days ago, but we didn’t talk about his free agency situation. I know he’ll do what’s right for him and his family. Chone’s a smart guy. I was eating some red beans and rice, and he said he was hungry. That guy loves his red beans and rice.

I got word today that I won my ninth straight Rawlings Gold Glove, and that’s always a thrill. What makes it so meaningful is that it’s voted on by the managers and coaches, the men who know what’s really going on out there. Much respect from them is important to me, because they recognize all the things that go into being a good defensive player, like hitting the cutoff man, throwing to the right base, backing up guys along with making all the routine plays – and some spectacular ones.

I was disappointed my teammates, Figgy and Erick Aybar, didn’t win their first Gold Gloves. Both those guys were deserving. They worked so hard and had tremendous seasons, defensively and offensively. Those are two of the premier athletes in the game, with great speed and quickness and strong arms. Their time will come.

I thought I was having my best season when I injured my groin running into walls first at Dodger Stadium and then in San Francisco. Missing all those games, 32, that really hurt. When I came back, my groin was sore for another month or so, but I’m not second-guessing what I did. I play the game all out. You can’t worry about getting hurt.

I’m really looking forward to staying healthy next season and putting up some good numbers and helping us to get to our ultimate goal this time, the World Series. We were so close . . . but the Yankees beat us fair and square in the ALCS, and they showed how good they were winning the World Series.  

I like to relax as much as I can after a long season, but there are things to take care of, too. The Torii Hunter Celebrity Golf Classic I’m hosting will benefit schools and kids in need the next two days at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino.

Justin Upton of the Diamondbacks and his brother, B.J., of the Rays also are here helping out, and we’ve got a lot of big names showing up. Benefits will go to The Torii Hunter Project, The Heart of a Champion Foundation, Teleos Preparatory Academy in Phoenix and Sacaton Middle School on the Gila River Indian Reservation.

Tonight we have a gourmet dinner and a performance by Brian McKnight, a great recording artist. On Wednesday, we’ll have an exclusive pre-round golf clinic hosted by former PGA Tour professionals and golf TV analysts Gary McCord and David Feherty. Golfers, sponsors and some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment will then hit the course for a round of golf at The Whirlwind Golf Club at Wild Horse Pass.

Tonight’s emcee is Harold Reynolds, the former second baseman now doing TV commentary. We’re looking forward to having some of my teammates – Joe Saunders, Howard Kendrick, Jason Bulger, Mike Napoli and Scott Kazmir – along with my old buddy David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Darryl Strawberry, Nick Swisher, Derrek Lee, Tony Clark, Eddie Murray, Chris Young, Don Baylor, Kenny Lofton, Mark Grace and many others.

If you want to know more about the Torii Hunter Celebrity Golf Classic or to purchase tickets, call (480) 245-7177 or visit www.toriihunter.com.

I hope all my fans and fans everywhere have a great offseason. I’ll stay in touch now and then. Take good care of yourselves and your families.

 

A great season, but the end is never easy

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It’s tough, man. The Yankees beat us. They’re a good team over there. We battled those guys, made a couple of mistakes and ran into a big-game pitcher, Andy Pettitte, in Game 6. They pitched well all through the series and beat us, fair and square.

We had to overcome a lot of obstacles this season. Losing Nick Adenhart, a young guy we all cared so much about, that was too tragic for words, really. We mourned and stuck together and got a lot accomplished this season. I’m proud of all these guys, for the character they showed and the way they performed through all the adversity.

We had a great season. There’s nothing to hang our heads over. We had a big mountain to climb here in New York. We got over one mountain in Boston and played those guys tough. We played some of the best games I’ve ever been a part of in my career — some of the best games all these guys have played in, I’m sure.

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The Yankees have some of my favorite players, so I’m going to be rooting for them in the World Series. Why not? I’m an American League guy. Always have been, so of course I’m pulling for our team.

If I had to point to one thing as the difference, I’d say maturity. They have a lot of seasoned, smart players. They’re very mature. They know how to execute and play the game. They’re the beast of the East for a reason. Those guys are going to be tough to beat in the World Series.

I’ve been battling the Yankees since I was in Minnesota, and it looks like I’ll keep battling them. They’ve got all those guys signed for years, so that mountain will be there. We have a lot of guys who learned and grew this season, and they’ll be better off for it.

Looking back, we didn’t play Angels-style baseball in this series. We made mistakes that just aren’t like us. We should have been better defensively, for sure. But baseball’s a crazy game. Anything can happen. It could have turned our way, but it didn’t. We just have to move on.

It’s going to be an interesting winter, with so many free agents, so many decisions to make. I have a lot of faith in our organization doing whatever it takes to be successful.

Right now, it’s just tough, really tough. You play for so long, with so much passion and energy, and then it’s over. We’ll have time now to reflect and think about what we accomplished, and I think the guys will have a lot of pride in the season we had.

It was a challenge, right from the start, losing Nick and having to go forward and dedicate ourselves in his memory. I know he’s proud of the effort we all put forth. When it’s all said and done, the relationships are what matters, and this was a wonderful team to play for this season, from our manager, Mike Scioscia, all the way through the ranks.

I want to thank all of our great fans for their support and devotion. I want you all to know that we appreciate how you stood behind us, and we’ll try to reward you by going a little deeper, a little farther, next season.

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Heaven — and Game 6 — can wait

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We figured all day there was going to be a rainout. Trust me, we hate there’s a rainout. We want to keep playing. You hate to lose your rhythm. It’s kind of good right now.

But there are some good things about this. We’ve got John Lackey available for a Game 7 on three days’ rest if we get by Game 6. I’m pretty sure that bulldog will want to be out there. You know John, how he loves to compete and hates to come out of games.

Tomorrow’s supposed to be sunny. I’ve got a chance to go out and work on my sun tan in New York. Just kidding. I’m looking forward to another historic baseball game for me. These games are a lot of fun — the past, and in the future.

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We’ll start Game 6 tomorrow, go on to Game 7 on Monday. We just want to play. I didn’t pack for an extra day, so I’ll have to go buy a shirt tomorrow.

Seriously, all you can do is keep working on your swing, keep your rhythm going, come back tomorrow and play with everything you’ve got. This team of ours is very adaptable. We’ve got a lot of athletes, and you want athletes to be running around on a nice surface, not all sloppy. So from that perspective, it’s a good thing we’re not playing tonight.

I like our guy Joe Saunders, being from the East Coast. He loves cold weather. He’s not like some of the guys from warmer climates. Joe is cool. He’ll be ready to go. And we’ll have all our other arms ready to deal behind him. You bring everything you’ve got to a game like this.

It’s exciting — very exciting. The Yankees and Angels, playing for the World Series in the Big Apple. I can’t wait.

Back to the Bronx for more thrills

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We earned ourselves another trip to the big city, to New York. It wasn’t easy, but we made it happen. I’m so proud of this team, the way it keeps coming back.

The Angels are for real. I don’t think anybody can doubt that now.

Man, I was going crazy out there in the seventh inning. They scored six runs to take the lead, and we came right back to get three and then held on. Hey, nobody said it was going to be easy, right?

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That ninth inning got to me. My knee started hurting me. That hasn’t happened all year. I guess it was the intensity of the moment. My heart was beating fast. It was very exciting — especially when Erick Aybar got under that last popup by Nick Swisher on the 3-2 pitch by Brian Fuentes and it was finally over.

We came out and played our game. We were aggressive right from the start. I’m not giving away any strategies, but A.J. Burnett, last time we faced him in New York, got ahead of us pounding the strike zone. We came out taking some good swings after Chone Figgins worked a walk to get us started.

Bobby Abreu stroked that double to center, which put two guys in scoring position. I got something I liked and drove it past Derek Jeter for two runs. That’s a good feeling, us getting off to a good start like that. Then Vladimir Guerrero and Kendry Morales came through with hits, and we’re up 4-0. I’m sure John Lackey liked that.

But we knew four runs weren’t safe, not against that team. Lackey pitched great, man. I had a good view of that 3-2 pitch to Jorge Posada that was called a ball. It was a good pitch, man. People are asking about Lackey reacting the way he did, but if you don’t react on a call like that, you shouldn’t be here. It’s a natural reaction, nothing bad or hostile about it. He thought he threw a strike and didn’t get the call, and it was big. I don’t blame John for reacting like he did. Any competitor would have done that.

That was a fight, a battle to the finish. Those guys never give up, and neither do we. That’s why this is such a great matchup. There’s a lot of mutual respect here, I think.

We know they’ve got Mariano Rivera in the bullpen, so it’s important to get early leads and hold onto them. That’s what we need to do against Andy Pettitte in Game 6 on Saturday. We’re looking for another good effort by Joe Saunders, who really pitched well in Game 2 against Burnett in New York.

Joe is cool, and he likes the weather cold, being from Virginia. I’m pretty sure he’ll get that kind of weather again. I don’t think it’ll be in the 70s, like it is in Southern California this time of year. But let’s not get started about the weather again. The cold didn’t beat us those first two games. We didn’t make plays we usually make. We didn’t play like the Angels.

Tonight, when we had to — we were the Angels, the team we’ve been all year. We’ve been on a mission to win this for Nick Adenhart’s family, and that mission continues.

We got what we were after, a return trip to New York. Now we plan to make the best of it and force a Game 7. But it’s one game at a time, one inning at a time, one pitch at a time.

I’ve got a headache right now. This excitement is getting to me. I can use a day to relax and get ready for another battle in the Bronx.

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Mountain climbing time

Well, we’ve got a mountain to climb in Game 5. No getting around it. We’ve just got to get there, get to the top somehow. It is a mountain, though, no question about it. A big one.

If they win, it’s over. Yankees go to the World Series, we go home. Simple as that. Down 3-1 in the ALCS, I wouldn’t say I’m frustrated. Mad is more like it. We know baseball. It can turn around any time. We’ve got to go out there and try to climb that mountain.

Everybody is asking me how they’ve shut down our offense. They’ve go CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera. And A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte, and a good bullpen. CC and Mariano, need I say more? But that doesn’t mean we can’t get something going, get our offense rolling again. Sure we can. We need to take it one at-bat at a time, play the way we have all season, and get this thing back to New York.

They had their big man going last night, and we’ve got our big man going tomorrow night. John Lackey, man, I’m comfortable with him out there. He pounds the strike zone, like CC did last night. We didn’t play good defense behind Lackey in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium, and we can’t let that happen again. We’ve got to be on top of our game. We’ve got to play better than that.

People talk about pressure, but we don’t have any pressure down 3-1. We’re just going to go out and play the game the right way, and hopefully that’ll take us back to New York for Game 6. The pressure’s not on us. I don’t buy that at all.

We’ve been trying to get back to our game since the start of the series. We know we can do it. You don’t sweep Boston without being good. We have to get that aggressive mindset and play free but also smart.

It’s been rough offensively. We just haven’t been getting the big hit when we need it. Smooth Bobby Abreu was saying that we’re trying to do too much with runners in scoring position, that we’ve got to relax and hit the way we did during the season.

Bobby knows best. I think he’s on the money. We can’t force things. We have to be disciplined and get pitches in good spots and drive them. We need to be aggressive but play with intelligence at the same time.

It’s a mountain, for sure, but you’ve got to take it one step at a time. We don’t want this to end, and we don’t want to see the Yankees celebrate on our field. No team wants to watch that. Let’s get after it. Crank up the volume, fans, and get the Rally Monkey warmed up.

It’s time to get busy, time to go to work. Time to put on the mountain-climbing boots.

Let’s take it back to New York

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Too much CC Sabathia. That was the story again. The big man showed why he’s one of the highest-paid and best athletes in our game. He pitched his butt off for the second time against us, and it’s obvious what we have to do now.

We have to win Game 5, after we take tomorrow off, and take it back to New York. That’s our whole focus now: Take it back to New York.

The Yankees are a good team, and they’re up 3-1. It seems impossible, I know, but it’s not. We’ve won three in a row before. I’ve got faith in my guys. We’re going to come out in this next one and battle like we always do.

This one tonight just got away from us. CC was dealing, right from the start. He changed his pattern on us. His fastball’s still 94, 95 on the gun, but it was his changeup that was keeping us off balance. He had it sinking in and out of the strike zone, fading away from righties, out of the strike zone.

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Sometimes you have to tip your hat, and that was the case tonight. He was coming after us with the first pitch in the strike zone. Now what are you going to do? Battle.

Alex Rodriguez is having a great series. He’s shorter with his swing, a lot more patient. He definitely wants it. You can tell. That guy’s a bad man, like Muhammad Ali used to say. I wish he was on my team.

We’ve got our big man, John Lackey, going in Game 5. John’s a bulldog. I’m excited to have John on the mound. He always battles, always keeps us in the game and gives us a chance.

We joke about the Rally Monkey all the time, but it’s on us. We’ve got to have faith in ourselves and each other and know we can get it done.

The media is asking me what I’ll say to the guys, but I’d never tell. I’m old school. I talk to my guys every chance I get. I’ll encourage them, and they’ll encourage me, too. I need it, too. That’s what a team is all about.

We’ve come a long way, and we don’t want to stop now. Our mission now is to take it back to New York. Take it back to New York and see what we can do.

Lets take it back to New York

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Too much CC Sabathia. That was the story again. The big man showed why he’s one of the highest-paid and best athletes in our game. He pitched his butt off for the second time against us, and it’s obvious what we have to do now.

We have to win Game 5, after we take tomorrow off, and take it back to New York. That’s our whole focus now: Take it back to New York.

The Yankees are a good team, and they’re up 3-1. It seems impossible, I know, but it’s not. We’ve won three in a row before. I’ve got faith in my guys. We’re going to come out in this next one and battle like we always do.

This one tonight just got away from us. CC was dealing, right from the start. He changed his pattern on us. His fastball’s still 94, 95 on the gun, but it was his changeup that was keeping us off balance. He had it sinking in and out of the strike zone, fading away from righties, out of the strike zone.

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Sometimes you have to tip your hat, and that was the case tonight. He was coming after us with the first pitch in the strike zone. Now what are you going to do? Battle.

Alex Rodriguez is having a great series. He’s shorter with his swing, a lot more patient. He definitely wants it. You can tell. That guy’s a bad man, like Muhammad Ali used to say. I wish he was on my team.

We’ve got our big man, John Lackey, going in Game 5. John’s a bulldog. I’m excited to have John on the mound. He always battles, always keeps us in the game and gives us a chance.

We joke about the Rally Monkey all the time, but it’s on us. We’ve got to have faith in ourselves and each other and know we can get it done.

The media is asking me what I’ll say to the guys, but I’d never tell. I’m old school. I talk to my guys every chance I get. I’ll encourage them, and they’ll encourage me, too. I need it, too. That’s what a team is all about.

We’ve come a long way, and we don’t want to stop now. Our mission now is to take it back to New York. Take it back to New York and see what we can do.

The real Angels showed up today

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This is what I’ve been preaching to everybody, what you saw today at Angel Stadium. What happened in the regular season doesn’t matter now. It’s guys people don’t focus on who come through and decide playoff games.

That’s what we saw today with Jeff Mathis banging those two doubles, driving in the winning run, and throwing out Brett Gardner stealing second before Jorge Posada’s home run in the eighth inning. That was a huge play that shouldn’t be overlooked — the pitchout and throw to get Gardner.

And what a day it was for my locker mate, Howard Kendrick. He came through like a champion. He had a rough postseason last year, but this year, it’s different. He’s playing with fire, like he’s mad. And I like that.

This was more like it, more like us. We played the game hard, and we played it right. What happened in New York, that’s not our baseball. Today, we still made some mistakes, but it was more like us.

We kept battling and battling, and we came back and won a huge ballgame. Now we’ve got to carry that momentum into Game 4 and try to get CC Sabathia, one of the best.

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This game today had to be a huge lift for a lot of guys. I was so happy for Vlad Guerrero. He said he was going to do something special, and he did it with that two-run homer in the sixth inning. That was Vladdy being Vladdy, crushing a fastball.

He said, “OK, I’ve got something for you.” It’s all about confidence, like with Howie. He’s got it now. In the second half, after he came back from Salt Lake, he was as hot as anybody. The man is a natural hitter. He’s got the ability to do some great things in this game.

I’m not in the Yankees’ clubhouse, so I have no idea what they’re thinking or feeling. We don’t care about what they do. We only care about what we do.

We definitely feel we can ride this wave and take another one tomorrow behind Scott Kazmir. The guy pitched great for us after coming over from the Rays.

Mathis, he has a lot of heart. He’s an old football player — you know, like me. When you’re a Division I recruit by a school like Florida State, you know you’re an athlete — and that’s Mathis. He’s got that bulldog in him, and he wants to win.

The playoffs is a totally different adrenaline and energy. Guys people aren’t expecting to see come through always shine. Guys like Mathis and Kendrick, they’re dangerous — and they showed it. Kendrick’s home run in the fifth inning got us going, changed the mood, like we had a chance. And then Vlad unloaded his shot.

As for my at-bat against Mariano Rivera in the 10th inning after Mathis doubled … not much I can say about that. He got us. He did what he always does, throwing me nothing but cutters. He threw me one that was yanked, and I tried to stay on it and make something happen. I hit it to Mark Teixeira for a force, and he got out of the inning. He’s Mariano Rivera. That’s what he does.

Mariano, that guy’s just too nasty. It’s not fair. What we need to do is get leads and keep them. That way we won’t have to deal with him.

When we left New York, I said I felt something was about to change. That’s what happened today. The Angels showed up and played the game with passion and purpose. We’ve got a lot of heart on this team, and we showed it today.

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