Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Meet the 2019 Yankees: Didi Gregorius

The New York Yankees will be without their starting shortstop for at least a portion of the 2019 season, but that doesn’t mean we are going to leave him out of our introductions. Didi has already begun a throwing program as a part of his rehab with Tommy John surgery and looks to be on track for a July or August return to the club. The Yankees have depth around Didi and can afford to give Gregorius all the time that he needs to fully heal and recover, so while he does that let’s get reacquainted with the emoji man himself. Sir Didi Gregorius.

Didi Gregorius, recently 29-years old, is a left-handed batting and right-handed throwing shortstop that came over to the New York Yankees to replace the legendary Derek Jeter. Didi, all 6’3” and 205 lbs. of him, is a very aggressive hitter at the plate and has all the tools to hit .300 and 30 home runs in a season, especially playing his home games inside of Yankee Stadium. Didi is under 30% with his swings and misses and is more than happy to take his walks and keep the line moving in the Yankees lineup. I, myself, deemed him the best complete hitter in the Yankees lineup before the 2018 season and even had him hitting 3rd in the lineup, a comment and opinion that I was absolutely grilled for on Twitter and in the blog… well, until it became a reality for Aaron Boone and the team that season.

Sir Mariekson Julius “Didi” Gregorius was born on February 18th, 1990 (happy belated to Didi) in Amsterdam, Netherlands to Johannes Gregorius Sr. and Sheritsa Stroop. At the time of Didi’s birth, his father pitched for the Amsterdam Pirates in Honkbal Hoofdklasse while also working as a carpenter. His mother, Stroop, played for the Dutch national softball team while his older brother, Johannes, Jr., pitched professionally in Honkbal Hoofdklasse as well as the Italian Baseball League. Didi had baseball in his blood and began playing tee-ball in the Netherlands before being moved at the age of five to Curacoa. Didi adopted the nickname because his teammates could not pronounce his given name, Mariekson. It probably wasn’t an issue for Gregorius, given the fact that he speaks four different languages including English, Dutch, Papiamentu, and Spanish. That, along with his on-the-field play, caught the eye of the Cincinnati Reds who signed Didi as an amateur free agent in 2007. Didi chose the Reds over other suitors, including the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres, because of Cincinnati’s willingness to start Gregorius in the United States rather than the Dominican or Venezuelan Summer Leagues. Gregorius worked his way through the Reds minor league system until he earned a September call-up on September 1, 2012. Gregorius played in eight games for the Reds that season and was assigned to the Arizona Fall League following the season.

With Didi being blocked at shortstop by Zack Cozart, the Reds ultimate traded Gregorius to the Arizona Diamondbacks as a part of a three-team trade involving the Cleveland Indians. The Reds sent Gregorius along with Drew Stubbs in exchange for Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Donald. The Indians then sent Gregorius to Arizona with reliever Tony Sipp and infielder Lars Anderson for pitchers Trevor Bauer, Bryan Shaw and Matt Albers. Gregorius played 103 games for the Diamondbacks in 2013 before heading into camp with the Diamondbacks in 2014 to compete for the starting job with Chris Owings. Owings ultimately won the job out of spring and Didi began the season back in Triple-A, although an injury to Cliff Pennington brought Gregorius back to the big-league club for the remainder of the 2014 season.

The Yankees needed a shortstop after the retirement of Derek Jeter, and they set their eyes on Gregorius. The Yankees, in another three-team trade, sent young pitcher Shane Greene to the Detroit Tigers while receiving Gregorius back from the Diamondbacks. Detroit then sent Robbie Ray and Domingo Leyba to Arizona. Gregorius struggled out of the gate for the Yankees in 2015, but eventually turned it around to have a good season. Gregorius really took off for the Yankees in 2016, finishing the season with a .276 average with 20 home runs and 70 RBI, including a career high in hits (155), doubles (32), home runs (20), and RBI (70). Gregorius would miss the beginning of the 2017 season after injuring his shoulder in the World Baseball Classic. Gregorius was activated on April 28 and immediately began assaulting opposing pitchers to the tune of a .286 average with 25 home runs and 87 RBI, all while missing the entire first month of the season. Didi did not stop hitting home runs in the postseason in 2017 either as the Yankees shortstop hit a game-tying three-run home run in the first inning of the 2017 American League Wild Card Game after the Minnesota Twins had taken an early 3-0 lead. Didi hit two home runs off Corey Kluber in the ALDS Game 5 as well, leading the Yankees within one game of the 2017 World Series before falling to the eventual World Series Champion Houston Astros.

Didi finished the 2018 season with over 20 home runs for the third straight season, but by the time the Yankees were eliminated in the American League Division Series at the hands of the Boston Red Sox the team announced that Didi would require Tommy John surgery on his throwing right elbow. Didi is expected to be out until July 1st at the earliest, but more than likely until August of this season. Until then, Troy Tulowitzki will try and keep his shortstop position warm for him. Get well soon, Didi, and we sure will miss you on the field while your elbow mends.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)