TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 13: Luke Voit #45 of the New York Yankees celebrates a run in the dugout as he's brought home by Gleyber Torres #25 during the fifth inning of their MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on September 13, 2019 in Toronto, Canada.
(Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)

New Schick spokesman and New York Yankees first baseman Luke Voit looks back at the 2020 season and ahead to the new campaign.

Josh Benjamin

Luke Voit is known for two things: slugging home runs for the New York Yankees and having a great grooming game.

Don’t let Voit’s sweet, clean-shaven smile fool you. Behind it is someone who led all of baseball in home runs last year. Once he’s back from knee surgery in a month, fans can look forward to watching him help the Yankees win that elusive World Series.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Luke Voit for a short time. When the new Schick spokesman wasn’t waxing poetic about how much he loves the new Hydro Stubble Eraser, he shared some key insights on the pandemic, how it affected the Yankees in 2020, and what he was looking forward to in 2021.

Josh Benjamin: You’re a Schick spokesman now. The Yankees’ no-beard policy is pretty strict, but shaving a lot gets annoying. Has the new razor helped?

Luke Voit: Yeah, it’s great because you can keep your beard a little bit longer until you get in trouble. But it’s great ’cause it’s five, six, seven days down the line. The root removes stubble, you don’t get the tug and pull you get from other razors. The best part is it makes it close, comfortable with an unbelievable finish.

 

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JB: Let’s shift to baseball talk because you had a pretty busy offseason. You stayed in Tampa to prepare for 2021 instead of going home. How did you balance staying in game shape with the holidays? You have family commitments as well, and also relaxing. How did you balance it all?

LV: Well, once the season was over, we had a couple of weeks in St. Louis and we had to see some friends and family. And then we ended up making the move down to Tampa, which has been great. We wanted to, you know, eliminate moving three times a year and obviously enjoy the weather. And I have access to the facilities down here with the training and the weight rooms. Even my hitting coaches are down here, which is awesome. And, obviously, it’s 75 and not 15 like it was in St. Louis.

My wife’s pregnant too, so it was a big year. And we did as much as possible and just enjoyed it. it’s nice. I’ve got a couple of buddies that live down here too and we just enjoyed it. Tried to get in the best shape possible to have a big year in 2021. It’s good working out with 5 or 6 of the guys at the field and to have a good connection, good routine, and obviously looking forward to winning a championship in 2021!

JB: Last year, everyone remembers the Yankees had a very rough 5-15 stretch towards the end of an abbreviated season, and many key players were hurt. During that time, you emerged as a very important team leader and have remained in that role. You’ve got a front row seat, so how’s the clubhouse vibe now compared to when the pandemic was causing constant uncertainty last year?

LV: It’s a lot different. You know, there’s still a lot of protocols that we have to go to, but it feels a lot better than last year. And I think a lot more guys are obviously comfortable. Everyone’s healthy. It won’t be as bad. We’ll get a little leeway at home and maybe at least be able to get some outside dining and fresh air when we’re in different cities. But the boys look good, we’re ready to rock and roll, and I’m excited for what this team has. The biggest concern, as everyone knows, is we’ve got to stay healthy, and I think we can do some damage.

We have a lot of leaders in this clubhouse, and I’m glad Gardy came back. He’s an important figure, the last remaining 2009 World Series champion. I like the additions we have and I’m ready to get everybody out there for Game 1 to see what the big boys got.

JB: I have to ask. Have you ever been on the receiving end of a signature Brett Gardner prank?

LV: No, he doesn’t really prank me too much. It’s more [Clint] Frazier and [Tyler] Wade. But Gardy’s great. He’s always keeping it fun, entertaining, and that’s how it should be. He likes to have fun and let the boys be boys, and that’s kind of how everyone feels in our clubhouse. This game’s already hard enough, so you’ve got to take the positives and the fun memories. Once it’s all said and done, it’s the stuff that you remember. Not the 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. You remember the little pranks, the fun stories, the fun memories you guys have together at the field, at the hotel, whatever.

JB: You mentioned team health. You’ve got the reputation as quite the workout warrior. You’ve been playing for a long time, so have you always been drawn to those intense lifting workouts?

LV: Yeah. Football was my first priority when I was going into high school, and I just remember me and my dad used to get up and work out before school. And I just always liked it and always wanted to prepare my body for a long football season. And after my career ended in football, I kept it going on through baseball and into college and, obviously, through pro ball.

So it’s something that I’ve always had and always will have. I work hard. I want to be the best. The reason I got to the big leagues was working hard and outworking everybody else, and I’ll do that the rest of my career. I wouldn’t be here without my dad kind of instilled in me when I was younger, so I really appreciate that. If I didn’t do that, I don’t think I’d be in the position I am today!

JB: Who’s a bigger workout warrior, you or Giancarlo Stanton?

LV: Me.

JB: Really?

LV: He just looks better. It’s unbelievable. I wish I could look like G. I can’t though!

JB: Last question. The 2021 season. It’s a brand new year, but still a little different because of COVID. Aside from limited fan capacity, what are you most excited about for the season?

LV: I’m excited for the fans. Obviously, that’s the best part about the game. When I get those “Luke” chants? I can’t wait for opening ceremonies even though it’s going to be a limited capacity.

It was just really different last year, and obviously playing a full season. The 60 games was a sprint last year, now we get back to normal baseball. The marathon. We’ll get a couple more off days and finally face some different teams. Fans, and hopefully getting back to some normal life.

Getting back to playing ball, being the boys, me and the Yankees. And obviously doing everything we can to get into the layoffs, have a healthy season, and kick some butt.

JB: Last follow-up question. You led the majors in home runs in last year’s shortened season. In the abbreviated season, did you find yourself playing with more of a sense of urgency just because it was that sprint to the finish?

LV: Yeah, and that’s why I think a lot of guys got caught off guard last year. I don’t think a lot of guys thought we were going to play, and I tried to prepare myself knowing that we were going to have to jump right into it. We had two or three weeks, summer camp or whatever you want to call it.

The first game, if you lost? It’s like losing three games in a regular season. Let’s say it’s Game 32, we’re facing the same three or four guys out of the bullpen. They’re trying to win every game possible and it felt very win or go home, especially around those last 15 games.

Even, honestly, the whole last 30 games. You’ve got to win this game, so everyone was trying to throw guys. Maybe they’d throw four days in a row, or the closer would pitch three nights in a row. It’s stuff that you don’t usually see in a regular season, but it was more like a playoff game almost every game. Especially with everybody trying to get their seed up with the extra playoff positions, so more teams were fighting for that.

It made it fun, but it was different. So it’ll be fun to play a normal season again.