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Luke Voit making most of his opportunity with Yankees

Emotional slugger making big contributions since he replaced slumping Greg Bird at first. 

Luke Voit of the Yankees celebrates as he

Luke Voit of the Yankees celebrates as he trots around the bases after hitting a solo home run against the A's in the eighth inning at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on Sept. 4, 2018, in Oakland, California.  Photo Credit: Getty Images/Thearon W. Henderson

OAKLAND, Calif. – Luke Voit won’t use the word “surprised” in discussing the success he’s had with the Yankees. 

No, for Voit, who has wrested the first baseman’s job away from Greg Bird, in his mind the success would be there. It was simply a matter of opportunity.

“I’ve finally gotten a chance,” Voit said.

He has more than seized it.

Voit’s leadoff homer in the eighth inning off Fernando Rodney snapped a 1-1 tie Tuesday night, helping send the Yankees to a 5-1 victory over the A’s.

It gave the righty-hitting Voit a homer in three straight games and marked his seventh since Aug. 24, the most homers in the big leagues in that span.

“To see the Luke Voit Show roll on,” Aaron Boone said. “He’s been terrific.”

Since making his Yankees’ debut Aug. 2, Voit is slashing .322/.385/.678 with seven homers, 15 RBIs, six walks and 12 runs.

Voit, 27, was acquired along with international pool money from St. Louis on July 28 for Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos. He didn’t get a lot of opportunities in his first stint with the Yankees from Aug. 2-13, going 3-for-16 in five games.

But since being recalled Aug. 21, and especially since getting regular time at first base starting Aug. 24 – he homered twice that night against the Orioles – Voit hasn’t let up. And his contributions – he was hitting .366 with a 1.313 OPS in 12 games since Aug. 24 going into Wednesday – have been particularly significant as the offense has struggled at times with Aaron Judge on the disabled list.

“Consistently he’s thrown up quality at-bats,” Boone said of Voit. “Which makes you believe that he can really maintain this.”

Five of Voit’s seven homers have tied the score or given the Yankees the lead, seemingly all of them punctuated with a display of enthusiasm that has energized the dugout.

On Tuesday, a half-second after tattooing the changeup Rodney left up in the zone, Voit thrust his right arm skyward before taking a celebratory jaunt around the bases.

“We all just kind of smile because we’re waiting to see what kind of antics he might have,” Boone said. “Whatever he does, we like to watch the reaction. He plays the game with a lot of joy.”

Something Victor Martinez noticed last week during a series with the Tigers. The 39-year-old, who plans to call it a career after this season, his 16th in the big leagues, chatted briefly with Voit after reaching base in the Aug. 31 game. 

“He said to me, ‘Man, you’re having so much fun out there, just enjoy every second, because I thought I was going to play until I was 100, but your time comes,’ ” Voit said. “I’m just trying to take as much as I can out of it and not beat myself up about small stuff and just stay within myself.”

Voit said among the keys for him is not trying to do too much at the plate, despite his 6-3, 225-pound frame. A native of Missouri, Voit grew up rooting for the Cardinals and his idol, Mark McGwire, whom he references often. Voit said early in his career, when his playing time came sporadically with the Cardinals, he tried too much to be a power-hitting force along the lines of McGwire.

“You get four at-bats a game, and if you strike out or get out, just move on and flush it out,” Voit said. “Like [Tuesday night] I stayed within myself. Just be Luke Voit and not try to be Mark McGwire.”

In the ballpark where McGwire started his career, Voit, in the series' first two games, pulled off a pretty decent impression of him.

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