Harrison Bader was meeting the media for the first time inside the Yankees’ clubhouse on Wednesday morning when his new locker neighbor and old teammate came over for a handshake and a hug.
Matt Carpenter took a look at Bader’s head and expressed admiration for his neat 8 a.m. haircut.
“Look at you,” Carpenter told him. “Looking sharp.”
The Yankees acquired the injured Bader from St. Louis in exchange for starter Jordan Montgomery before Tuesday's trade deadline. If anyone knows what they will get from the 28-year-old Bronxville native and boyhood Yankees fan, it’s Carpenter, who played with him the previous five seasons with the Cardinals.
“You can’t convince me otherwise that he’s [not] the best defensive centerfielder in baseball,” Carpenter said. “ . . . I think Yankees fans are going to be amazed with the talent he has in centerfield.”
But when will the Yankees and their fans get to see it? The 2021 NL Gold Glove winner has been out since going on the injured list June 27 with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. GM Brian Cashman said he’s hoping for September “to unpack that present.”
“One thing that Brian told me was just to not rush it, which alleviates some pressure,” Bader said.
The foot has bothered him since spring training. He’s trying rest now.
“The way I put it and the way doctors put it is I’ve tried everything except for nothing,” Bader said, his foot in a walking boot. “I’ve tried different treatments. I’ve done stretching . . . But what I haven’t done is just nothing, which is resting it.”
Bader said he “just couldn’t be more happy to be here.”
He used to come to the old and new Yankee Stadium when he was growing up. He attended the 2004 game when Derek Jeter made the running catch and flew into the stands vs. Boston. His parents were at Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS when Aaron Boone hit the walk-off homer against the Red Sox, something he mentioned to Boone, his new manager.
“Just to be able to be a part of this history obviously means a lot,” Bader said. “I know what it stands for and everything. So I [will] keep that in the back of my mind as I’m doing little movements and progressing back to just being at a point where I can go run down balls in centerfield and win a championship.”