Saturday, February 25, 2017

Paying it forward...

Credit:  Getty Images

Matt Holliday has yet to play a regular season game as a member of baseball’s most storied franchise but he’s already making an impact. 

When Aaron Judge hit the monster smash off the scorecard with his fifth inning home run yesterday in the spring training opener, you know that he’s already had talks with Holliday and watched what it is like to be a professional major league hitter.  Judge’s history of failing and then succeeding at each level is well known, but still, it is going to take the veteran influences of guys like Holliday, Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, and CC Sabathia to set the right examples for life in the Bronx.  

When Holliday came up, he was able to observe All-Stars such as Todd Helton and Larry Walker.  He has noted the influence of other Colorado Rockies during his first year, like Mark Sweeney and Todd Greene, as showing him life on and off the field.  Holliday also had his older brother Josh, who is currently the head coach at Oklahoma State.  

The power of the Mentor in major league baseball is huge.  Managers and coaches can only say so much.  Sometimes it takes peers to truly get inside your head and help you become the best you can be.  

At 37, Matt’s days in the outfield are most likely over.  He’ll probably still see a start or two and may even be forced into longer-term coverage due to unforeseen injuries, but his future with the Yankees resides primarily at DH.  Yet, it isn’t Matt’s bat that excites me about his addition to the team.  He is the consummate professional and a team guy.  His presence will be huge for the younger players.  Judge stands to benefit the most as the right field job is his to lose, but Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres are surely watching and learning.  If Greg Bird learns a thing or two from Holliday or the other veterans, it only helps the team in the long run.  

Todd Helton was a great first baseman for the Colorado Rockies and memories of his playing days are still revered by its fans.  He has been retired from the game for four years after a 17-year playing career in the Mile High City.  But here is the influence of Helton, through Holliday, impacting the 2017 New York Yankees.  

This is a great cycle to watch.

Bryan Mitchell got the start in Spring’s first game, a 9-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, and he picked up where he left off last spring prior to his injury.  He pitched two innings of non-hit ball, as did Luis Cessa.  I was glad to see Mitchell have success and hopefully this year can be the year we were expecting last season until he injured his foot.  Jordan Montgomery pitched two innings and gave up two runs in the 7th, but I am sure that Daniel Burch will be quick to point out that they were unearned runs.  

When Clint Frazier hit the triple in the bottom of the 8th, scoring two runs, I couldn’t help but think how great he would look in the Bronx and how great Jacoby Ellsbury would look elsewhere.  Alas, it is not time, but one day it will be.   

In the grand scheme of things, yesterday’s game meant nothing for the Opening Day roster.  But it’s a start.

Great to see Yankee baseball.  Life is good.

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