Optimum Customers: Your Newsday access has been extended until Oct 1st. Enroll now to continue your access.

LEARN MORE
TODAY'S PAPER
63° Good Afternoon
63° Good Afternoon
LifestyleFamilyKidsday

Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius talks to LI kids

Baseball star discusses what he does before every game, how he came to speak four languages and other topics.

Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius with Kidsday reporters, from

Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius with Kidsday reporters, from left, Sebastian Morales, Nicholas Beeker, Walter Krieg and Addison Corwith in the dugout at Yankee Stadium. Photo Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

We met Didi Gregorius before a recent home game and got to sit in the Yankees dugout with him. He told us how much he loves playing for the Yankees and what a great time he is having doing what he loves.

Who is your best friend on the team?

I have to pick two — Aaron Hicks and Austin Romine.

Why did you pick 18 as your uniform number?

I think it was a number that I always wore as a kid. When I came here I asked if I could get number 18, and they told me that they had to ask [pitcher Masahiro] Tanaka since he had it, but he told me that I could have it, and that is how I got it again.

Do you get distracted by the fans during the game?

No, not all, because when you are playing the game, you only worry about what is going on on the field and not what is going on in the stands. But then in the end, you always want to play for the fans — you may think about it afterwards. But if you are playing the game, you can only worry about the game.

Is there something special you like to do before every game?

I eat a lot. I don’t want to get hungry during the game.

What is your second favorite sport?

I will go with soccer.

When did you start drawing?

I started drawing when I was a kid. I was probably about the same [age] as you guys, but I wasn’t very good. But my brother kept teaching me and teaching me, and I started getting better and I just kept on drawing after that.

How many art pieces have you made?

Since I was a kid? I don’t know. But if I go from 2013 to now, I would say probably 20.

Who was your inspiration when you were younger?

I will say my dad and my family. If it was not for them, I would not be playing this sport. All of us played — Mom played softball, and Dad played baseball. It was just a family thing for us.

What part of your game do you think you need to work on to become even better?

Both of them: offense and defense. That would be really good for me and my teammates because that is how you keep everyone together.

Do you like playing more in the warm or the cold weather?

Warm weather — 100 percent.

Were you nervous to go back to baseball after you injured your shoulder?

Yes. Because I wanted to represent my country and then I wanted to play for the team that got me here. I was a little nervous, but at that same time, things happen and you can’t let that control your life. I managed to get past it, and when I came back I tried not to look back.

We know you speak four languages — what are they?

English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamentu, which is a language we speak in Curaçao.

How is it that you know four languages, and do you understand people when they are cheering for you in different languages?

Starting school in Curaçao knowing Spanish was mandatory. We start our school in Dutch — that is your second language, and then English and then Spanish. And, yes, I do hear cheering in all languages.

What is your favorite part of baseball?

It is a sport that I love playing since I was a kid, so the love of the game means a lot to me. Being a part of it with all these guys — these are the best guys, the best players. They help you around with everything you do. That is the best part of baseball to me.

Do your friends ask you for free tickets?

Yes! My close friends ask me for tickets, and people I don’t know ask me for tickets, too. But I say no because I don’t know them. I do get them mostly for my friends.

What do you miss about playing in Arizona and Cincinnati?

What do I miss? Nothing! I am not missing anything, trust me. It is nice to be here and play in front of all these great fans.

Is it hard to bat lefty and throw righty?

Sometimes it is because [my] dominant arm is [my] right arm, so I get in a tendency to fly open, which is something I don’t want to do because my right side is stronger that my left side. I am trying to balance it out and try to keep it perfect.

Do you get lots of fan mail, and do you answer it?

Most of the fan mail I get is baseball cards, and people want me to sign it. I sign a couple of them, but I don’t go through all of them.

Jillian Cagno and Deirdre Greenwald’s fifth-grade class, Tuckahoe School, Southampton

More Family