While Didi Gregorius may still be a young shortstop in the eyes of the New York Yankees, his role just got a whole lot bigger for the team entering the 2018 season.
He’s not an icon quite like Derek Jeter. However, Didi Gregorius has given the New York Yankees everything they could have asked for and more when he took over for one of the most famous shortstops in the game.
When the 27-year-old was originally acquired in a three-team trade in December of 2014, he was met with indifference. Gregorius seemed like a shortstop who would fit the minimum requirements but do no more.
Well, three years later and he’s become one of the most prominent bats in the Yankees’ lineup, as well as a slick-fielding shortstop, an improvement over the aging Jeter.
But this year is a little different for Didi Gregorius. Not only is he no longer flying under the radar but now he is the only veteran with full-season experience in the infield. His responsibility isn’t just having fun but transforming into a mentor for these young, rookie infielders.
For the time being, Gregorius has been seen primarily as a young, fun shortstop. He spent a few seasons under the wing of other, more experienced infielders, including Alex Rodriguez, Todd Frazier and even Starlin Castro. Now, he boasts the most experience in the infield so he automatically is expected to take on that leadership role.
While the Yankees are all about excitement and fun this season, Gregorius can still partake. However, he also needs to use his experiences to truly teach these young players how to handle being in the Bronx infield. Every one of those infielders could learn a thing or two on how to navigate the Bronx spotlight, as Didi Gregorius has so incredibly done.
Greg Bird has been in the infield for the Yankees before. However, because he has yet to play in over 50 games in one season in pinstripes. All things considered, he is still a rookie to the Bronx spotlight and to the Yankees’ infield.
With Starlin Castro’s unexpected exit to Miami, the second base position is once again vacant. Already, top prospect Gleyber Torres has been taking reps to fill that void and looks as though he could be the potential starter come Opening Day.
The third base situation has become much clearer in the past week since veteran free agent Todd Frazier signed on for a two-year, $17 million deal with the crosstown New York Mets. With his departure, Miguel Andujar has proven to be the heavy favorite to win the position. Andujar has only played in five games in pinstripes, his first being a stellar showing (3-for-4, four RBIs).
Gregorius has always found himself in a position where he has been taught. Now, it is his turn to do the teaching by both showing and doing.
He’ll still remain Mr. Emoji for the team, as well as the primary post-game tweeter and interviewer on “The Toe-night Show.” But now, three seasons later, he is not only being thrust into a leadership role but he deserves it.
Last season, Gregorius remained cool under pressure. This was the first season where he really looked comfortable in his own skin, calm and collected both at the plate and on the field. Best of all, like every other season, he’s been a strong and encouraging teammate. While he hasn’t had that leadership role quite yet, now is the perfect time for him to step into it.
A young infield? No problem, especially with Didi Gregorius at the helm. He’ll continue doing his thing but this season, more responsibility will fall on his lap. However, he won’t bat an eye.