Seven weeks after being traded for him, center fielder Harrison Bader made his Yankees debut in the Bronx on Tuesday. The Bombers traded left-hander Jordan Montgomery for Bader, even though Bader hadn’t played since June due to plantar fasciitis. The New York native was excited to put the injury and rehabilitation in the past and start against the Pirates at Yankee Stadium.
“I’m excited to do anything. I’m excited to put on any big league uniform and I’m excited to go out there and compete at the major (league) level,” Bader said. “So it’s definitely a special story for me here, I was in the stands here when I was younger.
“But, again, at the end of the day, we have to be efficient,” Bader said. “We have a baseball game to win, so I’m just going to focus on clean routes to the ball and go out there and just hit my first cut man.”
Bader, who grew up in Bronxville and went to Horace Mann Private School, was a career .246/.320/.409 hitter in six seasons with the Cardinals. He has 52 career home runs and 168 RBIs. Bader is recognized as a top player on defense, and a Cardinals official said they were willing to move him because they believed he had reached his ceiling offensively.
Bader played just 72 games this season before being called off with a foot problem, which he said had been dogging him since spring training. He spent his first seven weeks with the Yankees trying to get back on the field.
“I mean, there’s a lot of stuff that happened behind the scenes, but I’m not really going to do more than what it is,” Bader said of his comeback. “I know we have a familiar opponent for me, obviously a team coming from NL Central, so I’m just focused on what we need to do to win tonight and put everything I had to get here aside because that I’ve been through. That’s in the past and again, I’m just looking forward to being effective tonight.
Bader was down to seventh in Tuesday night’s lineup and manager Aaron Boone was eager to see what he had in the outfielder.
“I know he’s been chomping at the bit for a while. I have the impression that his rehabilitation last week went very well. He was able to rack up a few at-bats. He seems to be moving well. I know he’s been really encouraged over the past two weeks on where he is and how he feels,” Boone said. “He felt like he got over that hump. So, I just want him to come out and play his game. And that’s being athletic in the middle of the field.
Matt Carpenter, out since August 9 with a broken foot, is expected to have his foot re-examined and tested this week.
“He is due for an x-ray and scans at some point this week. And then hopefully it shows enough healing to start making progress, but I don’t know what day it is,” Boone said. “But it’s scheduled for this week.”
Carpenter’s left-handed bat was a huge boost for the Bombers’ roster and their second-half struggles coincided with his injury.
Right-hander Scott Effross, on the IL with a pulled right shoulder, was scheduled to be taken off the injured reserve Wednesday night.
Michael King, who is out for the season after fracturing his elbow, said he was due for an elbow MRI on Thursday. He was unable to straighten the elbow, so initial images of the joint did not show conclusively whether or not the ulnar collateral ligament was damaged.
“Four out of five doctors think it’s okay, but we do it to make sure,” King said.
Any significant damage to the ligament would require King to undergo Tommy John surgery.