Harrison Bader has big Yankees plans after ‘tough year’ with Cardinals

Harrison Bader arrived in the Yankees clubhouse Wednesday morning in a walking boot but with the confidence he can still make an impact for his hometown team this season.

The Gold Glove center fielder, who was acquired from the Cardinals for Jordan Montgomery before Tuesday’s trade deadline, has been in the boot for a week and will be for another week in an attempt to cure his plantar fasciitis. The Bronxville native, who is under contract through 2023, may not be available until September, GM Brian Cashman indicated on Tuesday, but the Yankees still believe it was a trade worth making.

“I just couldn’t be more happy to be here,” Bader said. “It’s been a tough year obviously, having to deal with the boot and everything, not being 100 percent healthy. But this organization does its homework, I can assure you that, and this is perfectly manageable. I’m just focused on getting back and helping this team win.”

Bader said his doctors had “tried everything except for nothing” to address his plantar fasciitis, which is why he is currently in a boot and resting. But he’s optimistic this rehab route can get him back on the field this season.

“I’m very confident I’ll be back this year,” Bader said.

Harrison Bader playing for the Cardinals on May 7, 2022
AP

The foot issue is something Bader has been dealing with since the start of this season, though he has played in 72 games while batting .256 with a .673 OPS and 15 steals, along with -2 Defensive Runs Saved in center field, per FanGraphs .

“I remember mentally what it’s like to feel good, but physically I haven’t felt it in a long time, just because it’s a nagging injury,” Bader said.

“One thing Brian told me was not to rush it, which alleviates some pressure for sure.”

When he does get healthy, the Yankees believe they will have one of the top defensive center fielders in the game.

Bader, who had an 8 am haircut on Wednesday morning to chop off his long blonde hair in accordance with team policy, grew up a Yankees fan. He was in attendance when Derek Jeter ran into the stands to make a catch against the Red Sox in 2004, and his parents were at Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS when Aaron Boone hit the walk-off home run.

“I know what this culture’s about,” Bader said “I was born not right down the street but in the backyard here. … I’m just focused on that one opportunity to go out there and play my game. Not only for myself and my teammates but also just the game itself, just to be a part of this history means a lot.

“I know what it stands for. I keep that in the back of my mind as I’m doing little movements and progressing back to being at a point where I can go run down balls in center field and win a championship.”

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