Can Bella resurrect Kiner-Falefa’s falling Yankees fortune?

Isiah Kiner-Falefa and his dog Bella.
Michael Bennington
Tuesday February 14, 2023

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The Yankees world knows Kevin and Penny and the duo played a part in bringing back Aaron Judge to the Bronx. They stand out as the Yankees’ lucky charm. Will Bella be able to bring good luck to Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who is facing hostile fans in New York for his dropping on-field performance?

Yankee’s third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa and last year’s shortstop let his dog Bella accompany him to George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida. He was photographed with his dog while exiting the Yankees’ spring training camp on Monday with his mini Goldendoodle. As he drove his car, the dog was sitting on his lap and her head poked out of the window of the passenger seat.

isiah kiner-falefa-new-york-yankees
Charles Wenzelberg/NYP

While speaking to YES Network in 2022, Kiner-Falefa told that the mini Goldendoodle was his “support dog, pretty much.” She was instrumental in taking his “mind off the game.” He made a separate Instagram account for Bella. When Kiner-Falefa wanted to have a break from the pressure of baseball, he looked at Bella’s photos and that of other dogs to refresh himself.

“I think I’ve learned over the past couple years, the more you can enjoy yourself and separate yourself from the game, the more success you’re gonna have,” Kiner-Falefa told then. “It’s a tough game. It’s a grind. So you need those outlets. And I think having a dog and just a family, it’s a big help.”

Will Bella be as popular as Kevin?

Earlier Aaron Judge, during “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon, admitted that the friendship between his dog Penny and Kevin, Anthony Rizzo‘s dog had something to do with his decision to stay in the Bronx this offseason. Rizzo supposedly sent Judge photos of their dogs every day via text message.

“He went for my heart,” Judge said after he signed a $360 million contract for nine years.

Thursday is the first day for pitchers and catchers to show up at the Yankees spring training camp. Position players will show up on February 20. Manager Aaron Boone told in January that Kiner-Falefa’s position was not final and the shortstop position will see a three-way competition. Oswald Peraza and prospect Anthony Volpe are ready to put a challenge to him for the shortstop position during spring training and Grapefruit League games.

Kiner-Falefa had a rough first season with the Yankees after they got him from the Twins in the trade that sent Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela to Minnesota. In the playoffs, he was taken off the field after defensive errors. Despite .261 in 142 games, his fielding issues forced Boone to take him out of ALDS Game 4 against the Indians. He was also benched for some ALCS games against the Astros.

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