Anthony Volpe's dream week continues with Opening Day win
The kid from New Jersey had dreamed about this day for as long as he could remember.
So how did Day One of being the Yankees’ shortstop work out for Anthony Volpe?
“Probably 10 times better,” he said after making his big-league debut in the Yankees’ 5-0 victory over the Giants on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on Thursday. “It was the most fun I’ve ever had. Period. On a baseball field. Anywhere.”
Volpe walked in his first plate appearance and stole his first base. He later grounded out and struck out to make his final line 0-for-2.
He handled three balls at shortstop cleanly, coming in on a slow chopper for the first chance of his career in the fourth, starting a 6-4-3 double play in the sixth and handling a routine grounder with a bullet throw to first for the first out of the ninth.
It was enough on this day, a nearly perfect opening afternoon for the Yankees other than the 39-degree temperature at first pitch.
Aaron Judge hit a home run in his first time up as the new Yankees captain, Gleyber Torres had a two-run homer and Gerrit Cole struck out 11 in six innings.
But something tells us this game will always be remembered as Volpe’s debut.
The 21-year-old was the leading man when it came to the sellout crowd of 46,172, even if his impact on the game was limited to the moments above.
Volpe was cheered wildly when he first popped onto the field for pregame warmups wearing his new No. 11, when he was the last person introduced as the home team’s No. 9 hitter during pregame ceremonies, and when he showed maturity beyond his years by taking a close 3-and-2 pitch to walk his first time up.
Volpe said he thought he would be “blacked out” during that first plate appearance. But his recall of the battle with Grade A pitcher Logan Webb was pretty spot-on.
Volpe said he knew from watching Webb attack the first eight batters that his pitches were leaking just off the plate in an attempt to get hitters to chase. That Volpe didn’t in his first time up in front of that sellout crowd (which included about 200 family and friends, as well as his former high school team, Delbarton) is pretty telling about his ability to handle a moment that would stagger the rest of us.
In his last at-bat, with the Yankees leading 3-0, one out and runners on first and third in the seventh, Volpe struck out on a 95-mph fastball from righthander John Brebbia.
But Volpe’s teammates picked him up. DJ LeMahieu lined the next pitch to left for an RBI single and Judge followed with a bloop single to center to make it 5-0.
Sure, the storyline would have been more juicy had Volpe, say, homered and made a memorable over-the-shoulder catch in his first Opening Day, as his idol Derek Jeter did 27 years ago on an even more frigid day in Cleveland.
But Volpe is not Jeter, even though it seems as if the youngster switched his spring training uniform No. 77 to 11 for the opener because a) it’s the lowest non-retired number the Yankees have left and/or b) 1+1 = Jeter’s No. 2.
Volpe gave a vague reason for his decision to switch, saying only that he thought it over and called former Yankee No. 11 Brett Gardner to make sure it was OK.
Gardner hasn’t played since 2021, so it wasn’t necessary for Volpe to get his approval. But Volpe was told how much weight Gardner carried in the clubhouse — can’t you see him as a future Yankees manager? — and how much of a role Gardner played in the young Judge’s career.
It was about respect, as was the way Volpe handled his first Yankee Stadium Roll Call. In the bottom of the first, the Bleacher Creatures in right chanted “Volpe! Volpe!” as Cole delivered a pitch to former Met Michael Conforto, who fouled it off.
After the foul, Volpe turned to rightfield, touched his right hand to his heart and the NY on his uniform, kissed the NY and then waved his gloved hand at the Creatures.
Volpe said he was mimicking Judge, who kissed the NY on his jersey after a home run in Game 5 of the ALDS last season.
“He was asking me about it yesterday when we were in the tubs,” Volpe said. “I kind of just thought of it on the spot because I remember he did it . . . He gave me the thumbs-up.”
From making the club to relaxing in the tubs with Aaron Judge to a win in his Yankees debut on Opening Day.
Pretty good week for Anthony Volpe. And something tells us he’s just getting started.
Ovation — When introduced during pregame as the No. 9 hitter in the Yankees lineup.
Roll Call — In bottom of first. Volpe touched his right hand to his heart and the NY on his uniform, kissed the jersey and then waved his gloved hand at the Bleacher Creatures.
Plate appearance — Walk on a 3-and-2 pitch leading off the third against Logan Webb.
Stolen base — Following his walk in the third.
Play in the field — A groundout by Thairo Estrada to end the fourth.
Putting ball in play — Grounder to third in the fifth.
Double play — Started a 6-4-3 DP on a grounder hit by Wilmer Flores in the sixth.
Strikeout — With runners on first and third and one out in the seventh, swung through a 95-mile per hour fastball from reliever John Brebbia.