Harrison Bader was touted by Yankees general manager Brian Cashman as an elite defensive center fielder when the team acquired Bader at the trade deadline – and he showed just that in a huge spot during Saturday’s Yankees win over Boston, making a great diving catch with two on and one out and the Yankees nursing a 7-5 lead in the eighth:
“That’s a great play to make. There’s a short list of people making that – getting that read, getting that jump and diving straight forward head first. That’s an elite play he made,” manager Aaron Boone said after the game. “That’s what we sought, and that’s who he’s been in his career.”
Bader made his pinstripe debut earlier this week, and while has made some good and heady plays in the outfield so far, this one was most indicative of what he knows he’s able to do.
“On defense, there are a lot of controllable factors in my opinion, with regards to your positioning, understanding what the pitcher is trying to do to a hitter, game situation, jumps off the bat, all of that,” Bader said. “I’m just ready to pull them out whenever I need to, and that one showed up for me in the eighth. I’m happy I reeled that one in because Clarke (Schmidt) did a good job of pounding the zone, so when they put it in play, we want to make plays behind him.”
The catch even impressed now-teammate Anthony Rizzo, who saw a lot of Bader's defensive prowess during Cubs-Cardinals games over the years.
"That was one of the nicest ones I've seen, a really nice read coming straight in," Rizzo said. "He can really go get it out there and he has a really good arm. He's made a lot (of impact). That's how we're going to win a lot of games, is the little things, and we as a team don't take that for granted."
Through Saturday, in addition to his strong defense, Bader is now hitting .286 with six RBI and a few excellent baserunning plays as well, and Boone is loving the total package.
“He’s impacted every game he’s been a part of on all sides of the ball. He’s done a great job for us and really settled himself into the team nicely,” Boone said.
“I’m just happy to be on the field and be able to compete with a bunch of winners. There’s a lot of work that got done behind the scenes to get here, so I’m just enjoying it and doing my best to contribute every single day.”
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