Anthony Volpe had ‘no words’ immediately after finding out that he had made the Yankees’ Opening Day roster, and would likely be starting at shortstop on Thursday in the Bronx.
Manager Aaron Boone and general manager Brian Cashman did, however, and both skipper and front office boss acknowledged what everyone saw over the course of Spring Training: Volpe came to Tampa and didn’t just knock on the door, he kicked it down.
“As you know, we entered camp with an open competition; we said it publicly and privately, and the obvious exclamation point here is that Anthony Volpe came into camp and took this position,” Cashman said. “He should be congratulated. It was well-played, and he’s earned the right to take that spot for the New York Yankees as we open the 2023 season. We’re excited for him and excited for us.”
Added Boone: “We talked about it being a competition from the start, and not that Spring Training numbers were going to be everything, but when you look at the reputation he’s earned within our organization, we as a big-league staff got to see that first hand for the better part of the last six weeks. He absolutely kicked the door in and earned this opportunity.”
To Boone’s first point, Volpe has slashed .314/.417/.647 in 51 at-bats so far, with 10 extra-base hits and eight walks, outperforming the since-optioned Oswald Peraza in spades. But, Boone noted, it wasn’t just what he did on the field that earned Volpe the gig.
“While the performance was there, and he killed it between the lines, all the other things we’ve heard about showed up,” Boone said. “He earned the respect of the veterans in the room; his work is excellent, there’s an energy he plays the game with, and an instinct he has that is evident. When we take a step back and evaluate, he really checked every box we could’ve had for him.”
“(Yankees amateur scouting director) Damon Oppenheimer and his staff placed a bet on him coming out of high school that the tools would play, the makeup was off the chart, and he’d earn everything every step of the way,” Cashman added. “He came into this camp and reinforced everything he’s done at every level, which is stand out amongst everyone.”
And, as the GM noted, that standing out started well before the team was scheduled to report.
“He showed up early this winter, I think in December, voluntarily, because he knew there was a competition and he intended on winning it,” Cashman said. “He was one of the first to get here and last to leave and he dominated all sides of the ball, and that bodes well for him and us as we move forward.”
All that led to this moment, where Volpe got the hidden camera treatment as he learned his fate:
“That was great,” Boone smiled. “This is a difficult time of spring, in having to tell some people they haven’t made a team or are being reassigned, but the ones when someone has earned an opportunity, are great. “Obviously, there was a lot of fanfare around this one, a lot of commentary and eyeballs on it. To watch it play out and perform at the level he did, to get to tell him today and have a little fun with it, try to have his heart skip a beat a little bit, was fun. That’s one of the cool parts of this job, getting to have those conversations with talented young players.”
And in a few days, he’ll get to have a conversation with Volpe about where he’s hitting on Opening Day, and how he’ll become just the fourth player to make his MLB debut as a Yankee on Opening Day.
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroWFAN
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