BOSTON — It all came a bit out of nowhere for Garrett Cooper.
The 26-year-old first baseman played in the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday night in Tacoma, Washington, for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, a Brewers affiliate, and landed in Colorado Springs on Thursday morning, fully expecting to head to the ballpark that night.
Instead, Cooper got off the plane to a flurry of missed calls and texts from his Triple-A manager, Rick Sweet. He had been traded to the Yankees for lefthander Tyler Webb, and he was about to make his major-league debut.
“Like 20 minutes later, [Brian] Cashman called me and said, ‘Welcome to the Yanks, and we’ll meet you in Fenway tomorrow,’ ” the 6-6, 230-pound Cooper said Friday before starting against the Red Sox on Friday night. “Just a whirlwind, the last 24 hours.”
On a conference call earlier in the day, Cashman said Cooper will start against lefthanders but didn’t rule out everyday status for the rookie. He batted sixth Friday night, lining out to second and striking out three times.
Cooper, the eighth player to start at first base for the Yankees this season, had a .366/.428/.652 slash line in 75 games and 279 at-bats for the Sky Sox. He had 17 homers and 82 RBIs, with the increase in power numbers coming after the Brewers told him to “put more balls in the air.” Cooper’s previous career high in homers was the nine he hit last season between Double-A Biloxi and Colorado Springs.
Cashman didn’t exactly apply the pressure in discussing what Cooper might bring to first base, a spot at which the Yankees have gotten little production. “The bar,” Cashman said, “has been set very low at that position.”
Cooper, of course, hopes to seize the opportunity. He said “it’s every kid’s dream to get the call up to the big leagues,” but he certainly didn’t envision it playing out this way.
“Definitely not coming into the Red Sox and Yankees rivalry, that’s for sure,” he said. “I thought it was going to be in Milwaukee, and the next thing I know, I’m here, in one of the biggest rivalries in sports.”