Anthony Volpe’s sophomore season starts with equalling a Derek Jeter feat

Anthony Volpe practices at Minute Maid Park, Houston, on March 28, 2024, on the eve of the Yankees vs. Astros game.
Michael Bennington
Friday March 29, 2024

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Anthony Volpe, the Yankees’ young shortstop, kicked off his sophomore campaign with a thunderous single through the infield’s heart, the scorching liner leaving his bat at a blistering 105.2 mph. While the ensuing free passes he garnered over his next three plate appearances may seem pedestrian, they spoke volumes about the blossoming of Anthony Volpe’s game.

The baby-faced infielder showed a veteran’s discipline, coaxing four free passes from opposing hurlers to join Yankees royalty. Anthony Volpe’s four times on base matched a feat only one other Yankees shortstop has accomplished on Opening Day – the iconic Captain Clutch himself, Derek Jeter. With that historic company, the young star announced his growth from rookie phenom to full-fledged menace at the dish.

Patience pays off for Anthony Volpe

The fledgling shortstop endured a challenging rookie season in 2023, struggling to consistently reach base. Anthony Volpe finished with a meager .283 on-base percentage, ranking him second-lowest among qualified major league hitters. However, Opening Day 2024 painted a starkly different picture, showcasing a player who seems to have taken significant strides in his sophomore year.

Anthony Rizzo and Anthony Volpe are at Minute Maid Park, Houston, on March 28, 2024, on the eve of the Yankees vs. Astros game.

Anthony Volpe’s performance against the Astros was nothing short of a revelation. He managed to reach base in an impressive four out of his five plate appearances, including drawing three walks. This patient approach at the plate played a pivotal role in fueling two rallies that ultimately propelled the Yankees to a thrilling 5-4 victory.

Manager Aaron Boone couldn’t conceal his satisfaction with Anthony Volpe’s development. He pointed out a clear improvement in Volpe’s hitting ability, particularly his newfound discipline at the plate. This game marked a milestone for the young shortstop, as it was the first time in Anthony Volpe’s career that he drew three walks in a single game.

Two of these walks were particularly impactful, coming with runners in scoring position. The second walk of Anthony Volpe proved especially valuable, forcing in a run from third base and narrowing the deficit to 4-3 in the fifth inning. While his official stat line reflected a 1-for-2 performance with a single, Anthony Volpe’s impact went far beyond the hit column. Anthony Volpe’s offseason dedication to refining his swing was evident in his patient approach at the plate, a strategy that yielded most of his production on Thursday.

Boone praised Anthony Volpe for adhering to the team’s hitting philosophy, highlighting his resilience and disciplined approach throughout the game. Even his final at-bat, which resulted in a strikeout, showcased a newfound maturity in his plate discipline. Overall, Anthony Volpe’s performance on Opening Day served as a testament to his dedication and the remarkable progress he’s made. This impressive display bodes well for his future as he aligns his approach with the team’s expectations.

Newbie prepares to reinforce the Yankees’ resurgence

The Yankees acquired Jon Berti from Miami on March 27, 2024, in a three-way trade.

A late-night arrival wasn’t enough to deter Jon Berti from joining the Yankees’ ranks. Fresh off a Wednesday trade from the Miami Marlins, Berti touched down at the Yankees’ team hotel in the early hours of Thursday. However, considering the quick turnaround, manager Aaron Boone opted to give Berti a day to acclimate rather than throwing him directly into the lineup fray.

This prudent decision allowed Berti precious time to adjust to his new surroundings. Boone explained the importance of Berti getting comfortable with the team’s environment and gameday routines. By observing the game from the dugout, Berti could begin to seamlessly integrate himself into the team dynamic, preparing him for a smooth future contribution.

The news of the trade came swiftly for Berti. During a Wednesday workout in Miami, Marlins manager Skip Schumaker informed him of the move. Despite the unexpected turn of events, Berti embraced the opportunity with enthusiasm. Donning his new Yankees uniform, number 19, within a day, Berti exuded excitement about joining such a prestigious organization.

With DJ LeMahieu sidelined due to injury, Berti is expected to play a significant role at third base, potentially transitioning to other positions throughout the season. Boone expressed his confidence in Berti’s versatility, hailing him as a “front-line super-utility player” and anticipating his multifaceted impact on the team.

Berti acknowledged the buzz surrounding his arrival, particularly from fans familiar with his contributions in the National League East. He expressed his eagerness to prove his worth to his new team and contribute to their success in any way possible.

Ready to step in wherever the Yankees need him, Berti emphasized his dedication to the team’s game plan. He’s committed to doing whatever it takes to contribute to victories, showcasing his adaptability and dedication in this new chapter with the Yankees.

Yankees bullpen plan looks promising

The New York Yankees solidified their pitching staff on Thursday morning, finalizing their bullpen with the additions of right-handers Nick Burdi and Clayton Beeter. This completed the team’s roster adjustments for the commencement of the season.

To create space for Burdi on the active roster, the Yankees placed Gerrit Cole on the 60-day injured list. This extends Cole’s absence until at least May 27th due to right elbow inflammation and edema. While the injury undoubtedly deals a blow to the Yankees’ pitching rotation, there’s a silver lining. Manager Aaron Boone expressed optimism about Cole’s rehabilitation progress, suggesting a potential return in the latter stages of May.

Meanwhile, another young arm is gearing up for his big league debut. Luis Gil, already on the 40-man roster alongside Beeter, threw a 75-pitch live batting practice session at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday. This session served as his final preparation before his scheduled start against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday.

In a lighter moment, Boone reminisced about his first Opening Day as a player back in 1998, with the Cincinnati Reds. He recalled a quirky incident involving then-Reds owner Marge Schott, who famously brought a large elephant onto the field before the game. While the elephant’s unexpected movement near the dugout startled many, Boone surprisingly found it calming, helping him manage pre-game nerves.

This finalization of the pitching staff, combined with Cole’s projected return window and Gil’s upcoming debut, paints a promising picture for the Yankees’ pitching depth as the season progresses. Boone’s lighthearted anecdote adds a touch of baseball history to the mix, providing a glimpse into the unique experiences that shape a player’s journey.

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