Harrison Bader has only been playing in pinstripes for five days, but the Yankees are already getting a full look at everything he can bring to the table.
The center fielder made his impact felt once again on Saturday afternoon, this time making a diving catch in the eighth inning to help prevent a Red Sox comeback in the Yankees’ 7-5 win in The Bronx.
The Red Sox, trailing by two runs, had two runners on and one out with Clarke Schmidt on the mound, when Abraham Almonte hit a sinking liner to center field. Bader got a strong jump coming in and laid out to snag the ball before it could hit the ground, helping Schmidt escape the jam.
“There’s a short list of people making that [catch],” manager Aaron Boone said. “Getting that read, jump, diving headfirst like that. That’s an elite play out there that he made. Obviously that’s what we saw and went out [and got him]. That’s who he’s been in his career.”
Bader, who was acquired from the Cardinals at the trade deadline in a deal for Jordan Montgomery, had a delayed Yankees debut because of plantar fasciitis, but has shown no signs of rust since being activated off the injured list on Tuesday.
While he contributed with his bat and his legs in his first four games, his calling card — Gold Glove defense — finally got a chance to shine on Saturday.
“Baseball inherently is a game where there are a lot of factors that you can’t control,” Bader said. “But on defense, with regards to your positioning, understanding what the pitcher’s trying to do with the hitter, game situation, jumps off the bat, how much you practice it before the game — all these things are controllable factors. I’m just ready to pull them out whenever I need to and it showed up for us in the eighth.
“I was just happy to reel that one in because that was a nice situation.”
Bader went 0-for-3 with a walk, but has still reached base safely in each of his first five games with the Yankees. A day after coming on as a pinch-runner and stealing a base to eventually score the winning run, Bader helped prevent runs with his glove.
“How I’d sum up my first week as a Yankee [is] we got a bunch of wins and that’s all I really care about,” Bader said. “Like I said when I was rehabbing and I was getting ready to focus to come back and play, all I care about is winning and we’ve done a lot of that the last week. It’s exciting to keep that rolling.”
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