Harrison Bader has two hits, 3 RBIs in New York Yankees debut; Frankie Montas goes on 15-day inju...

ByMarly Rivera ESPN logo
Wednesday, September 21, 2022

NEW YORK -- Gold Glove-winning center fielder Harrison Bader played in his first game in pinstripes Tuesday night, going 2 for 4 with three RBIs in the team's 9-8 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Tuesday night's game was Bader's first major league game since he was acquired by the New York Yankees from the St. Louis Cardinals during the Aug. 2 trade deadline.

Bader, a native New Yorker who grew up near Yankee Stadium, had been on the 60-day injured list with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Bader last played in a game for St. Louis back on June 26.

Bader batted seventh and played center field against the Pirates. He had two go-ahead singles.

It was not all good news for the Yankees on Tuesday night, with the corresponding move for activating Bader being placing right-handed pitcher Frankie Montas on the 15-day IL with right shoulder inflammation.

"I'm excited to get on any big league field. I'm excited to put on any big league uniform and I'm excited to go out there and compete at the major level at all times," Bader said in the Yankees' clubhouse ahead of the start of a two-game series against the Pirates. "There's definitely a special history here for me, obviously, I was in the stands when I was younger. But, at the end of the day, we have to be effective tonight. I've got a baseball game to win. I'm just going to focus on taking clean routes to the ball and go out there and just hit my first cut-off man."

Nonetheless, while Bader stated that his focus was on the field of play, he did acknowledge that it would be a special night for him and his family.

"With all due respect to Yankees fans, I think it is great for them. I think it's great for the fans here to have a New York native. A lot of the fans that cheer us on during the games, I was that when I was younger, so it definitely is special," said Bader, who was hitting .256 with five home runs, 21 RBIs and 15 stolen bases at the time when his plantar fasciitis flared up. "I just want to be the best version of myself for them. I think [Derek] Jeter said it best when he said that fans boo because they want to cheer. So I'm going to go out there and do my best to give them something to cheer for. And hopefully it's a win after nine innings."

When the Yankees first acquired Bader, general manager Brian Cashman said that he believed it was a trade worth making, even though the center fielder was not expected to play until the end of the season. The Yankees' trade of Jordan Montgomery to St. Louis had been seen as one greatly favoring the Cards, with the left-handed starter going 5-2 with a 2.35 ERA with the RedBirds, after starting the season 3-3 with a 3.69 ERA in pinstripes.

Cashman called Bader "one of the elite center-field defenders in the game," and manager Aaron Boone said pregame that he expects him to make an immediate impact in the outfield.

"I know he's been chomping at the bit for a while. I feel like his rehab over the last week has gone really well, he's been able to rack up some at bats, and he feels like he's moving really good," Boone said. "He's been really encouraged over the last couple of weeks about where he's at and how he's felt kind of getting over that hump. So just want him to go out and play his game. And that's being athletic in the center of the field. He's been looking forward to this day."

Montas, who experienced right shoulder issues earlier in the season while with the Oakland Athletics, has mostly been a disappointment since the Yankees acquired him just before the trade deadline, going 1-3 with a 6.35 ERA in eight starts before landing on the IL. Montas received a cortisone shot to his shoulder while with the A's, and received another one, in the same area of the shoulder, on Monday.

Boone said Montas would be completely shut down from throwing for 10 days or so, and was uncertain as to whether he would be able to return to the rotation this season.

"It might be hard to get a pitch count up back to a certain point, but I think it's certainly possible that he can be in play for us [before the end of the regular season]," Boone said. "Hopefully, this next week or 10 days goes well, and we can start ramping him up, but we've got to get there. ... We'll just see how the recovery goes over the next week or 10 days. And then we'll see where we are from a calendar standpoint, how many pitches we can get him up to, those type of things."

Montas' loss was alleviated by the fact that Luis Severino is scheduled to be activated off the injured list to start the second game of the interleague series against Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Severino was placed on the IL on July 14 with a low grade right lat strain and, very much against his wishes, was placed on the 60-day IL on Aug. 1. Severino, who coming into the season had appeared in just seven games (three starts) in his previous three seasons, was 5-3 with a 3.45 ERA in 16 games before landing on the IL.

"I feel very good. Actually, better than before. It's everything ... velocity ... and the more important thing is how I feel the next day. It feels actually even better than I thought," said Severino, who added that he expected to go 65 pitches against the Pirates and build up to 100 pitches by the end of the season. "I was resting for 60 days so, yes, of course, I'm fresh now. I think right now this is the best time for me to come back because Montas, I don't know if he's going to be out for a long time or short time, but he was a big piece for us."

In other injury news, reliever Scott Effross (right shoulder strain) is on pace to be activated during the Yankees' current home stand, which ends Sunday, after a four-game series against the Boston Red Sox. Infielder DJ LeMahieu (right foot) took batting practice for the first time since being placed on the IL with severe toe discomfort and might be an option for the Yankees toward the end of their current six-game homestand.