NEW YORK — Gold Glove-winning midfielder Harrison Bader played his first game in pinstripes on Tuesday night.
Tuesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates was Bader’s first Major League game since being taken over by the New York Yankees from the St. Louis Cardinals on the August 2 trading deadline.
Bader, a native New Yorker who grew up near Yankee Stadium, was on the 60-day injured list with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Bader last played in a game for St. Louis on June 26. Bader batted seventh and played in midfield against the Pirates.
It wasn’t all good news for the Yankees on Tuesday night, with the corresponding move activating Bader, placing righthanded pitcher Frankie Montas on the 15-day IL with right shoulder inflammation.
“I’m excited to be on every pitch in the big league. I’m excited to put on a uniform in the big league and I’m excited to go out and compete at the highest level at all times fight,” Bader said at the Yankees’ clubhouse before the start of a two-game series against the Pirates. “There is definitely a special history here for me, of course, I was in the stands when I was younger. But at the end of the day, we have to be effective tonight. I have a baseball game to win. I’m just going to focus on taking clean routes to the ball and going out and just hitting my first cut off guy.”
Nevertheless, while Bader stated that his focus was on the playing field, he acknowledged that it was going to be a special night for him and his family.
“With all due respect to the Yankees fans, I think it’s great for them. I think it’s great for the fans here to have a native of New York. A lot of the fans cheering us on during the games, I that was when I was younger, so it’s definitely special,” said Bader, who hit .256 with five home runs, 21 RBIs and 15 stolen bases the moment his plantar fasciitis flared up. “I just want to be the best version of myself for them. I think [Derek] Jeter said it best when he said that fans captivate because they want to cheer. So I go out and do my best to give them something to cheer for. And hopefully it’s a win after nine innings.”
When the Yankees first took over Bader, general manager Brian Cashman said he felt it was worth a trade, even though the center fielder was not expected to play until the end of the season. The Yankees’ trade of Jordan Montgomery to St. Louis was seen as an advantage for the Cards, with the left-handed starter going 5-2 with a 2.35 ERA with the RedBirds, after starting the season 3-3 with an ERA of 3.69 in pinstripes.
Cashman called Bader “one of the elite midfielders in the game” and manager Aaron Boone said he expects him to make an immediate impact in the outfield.
“I know he’s been chewing for a while. I feel like his rehab has gone really well over the past week, he’s been able to collect some at bats and he feels like he’s moving really well,” said Boone. “He’s been very encouraged over the past few weeks about where he stands and how he felt coming over that hump. So just want him to go out and play his game. And that’s being athletic in the middle of the field. He’s watched looking forward to this day.”
Montas, who had problems with his right shoulder with the Oakland Athletics earlier in the season, has been especially a disappointment since the Yankees took him on just before the trade deadline, 1-3 with a 6.35 ERA in eight starts before landing on the IL. Montas got a cortisone shot on his shoulder while he was with the A’s, then got another shot on Monday, in the same area of the shoulder.
Boone said Montas would be completely out of action for throwing for 10 days or so, and he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to return to the rotation this season.
“It might be hard to get a pitch back to a certain point, but I think it’s definitely possible he could be in the game for us. [before the end of the regular season]’ said Boone. “Hopefully this next week or 10 days will go well, and we can ramp it up, but we’ve got to get there… We’ll see how it recovers over the next week or 10 days. And then we’ll see where we are from a calendar standpoint, how many pitches we can get him, things like that.”
Montas’ loss was cushioned by the fact that Luis Severino is scheduled to be taken off the injured list to start Wednesday’s second game of the interleague series against Pittsburgh.
Severino was placed on the IL on July 14 with a low right bar grade and, much to his dismay, on the 60-day IL on August 1. Severino, who started the season, was in only seven games (three starts) in his previous three seasons, was 5-3 with a 3.45 ERA in 16 games before landing on the IL.
“I feel very good. Actually better than before. It’s everything … speed … and the most important thing is how I feel the next day. It actually feels even better than I thought,” said Severino, who added he expected to play 65 pitches against the Pirates and build up 100 pitches by the end of the season. “I was resting for 60 days, so, yes, of course, I’m fresh now. I think now is the best time for me to come back because Montas, I don’t know if he will be out for a long or short time, but he was a big piece for us.”
In other injury news, reliever Scott Effross (right shoulder strain) is on track to be activated during the Yankees’ current home game, which ends on Sunday, September 25, after a four-game run against the Boston Red Sox. Infielder DJ LeMahieu (right foot) took punch training for the first time since being posted to the IL with severe toe discomfort and could be an option for the Yankees towards the end of their current six-game home standings.