Ryan LaMarre making most of opportunity with Yankees
BOSTON – There was a several-minute delay in the fifth inning of the Yankees’ 9-1 victory over the Red Sox last Sunday night at the Stadium after rightfielder Ryan LaMarre crashed hard – back first – into the wall pursuing Christian Vazquez's drive that would result in a double.
LaMarre crumpled to the ground and stayed down for a bit.
A couple of teammates arrived first to tend to LaMarre, quickly followed by a Yankees trainer and Aaron Boone.
LaMarre, slowly coming to his feet, had a message for his manager.
"I told Boonie, ‘I’m not coming out of the game,’" LaMarre said after the blowout victory, one in which he contributed a two-run homer in the eighth. "You don’t get too many chances to wear the pinstripes. I want to take advantage of every inning I’m out there."
Music to the ears, no doubt, of any Yankees fan who heard or read those comments.
And the 32-year-old LaMarre, in limited action since being recalled Sunday morning when the Yankees put yet another outfielder on the injured list, has taken advantage.
The most recent example came Wednesday night when LaMarre, pinch hitting for Brett Gardner, delivered a walk-off single in the 10th inning to lift the Yankees to a 6-5 victory over the Phillies for their their fourth straight win coming into a big four-game series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park that started Thursday night.
"Not many people, obviously, get a chance to wear the uniform, let alone get a chance to come through and get a walk-off hit," said LaMarre, a second-round pick of the Reds in 2010 and signed by the Yankees to a minor league deal last December. "Thank God for the opportunity. I've been through a lot in this game, as a lot of people have, but to have the moments like these, you just try to soak them in. And it keeps you going, honestly."
LaMarre is with his sixth major-league team, his last appearance in big-league game before this season coming with the Twins in 2019. He was signed from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to a major league contract on May 16 to take the spot of Aaron Hicks, who suffered a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, an injury that eventually required season-ending surgery.
LaMarre started in center that afternoon in Baltimore against the Orioles, started two days later in right in Arlington, Texas, against the Rangers and again the next night, also in right.
But in the May 19 game, LaMarre left early with a right hamstring strain.
His next opportunity in the majors would not come until Sunday when Tim Locastro, another fill-in outfielder, went to the injured list with a knee injury. And that outfield setback came on the heels of Aaron Judge being placed on the IL after testing positive for COVID-19, the All-Star rightfielder joining the already sidelined Miguel Andujar (left wrist strain) and Clint Frazier (vertigo).
LaMarre, along with recent fellow Scranton teammates Greg Allen and, before he got hurt, outfielder Trey Amburgey, have provided a surprising spark of late for a team that appeared to sleepwalk through much of the first three months-plus of the season.
"Everyone’s hungry, scrappy," DH Giancarlo Stanton said. "We’re getting it done in different ways than we’re accustomed to. It’s good to get a new look. Some guys in here are just playing like it’s their last game every time."
Which certainly seems to be the approach of LaMarre, who has all of 124 big-league games under his belt.
"I don't have a long track record up here, but the bits and pieces that I have got have come in roles like that, where you're really just ready for anything," he said. "It might be going on defense, it might be playing a day game after night game if somebody needs to get off their feet, pinch hitting, pinch running. So any day up here's a good day and you're just super excited to contribute. It's challenging, but it's rewarding."