The Yankees fortified their bullpen on Thursday by signing right-hander Adam Ottavino to a three-year, $27 million contract. MLB.com caught up with the Brooklyn native this week and asked him a wide range of questions about everything from growing up a Yankees fan to his respect for the Rockies. MLB.com:
The Yankees fortified their bullpen on Thursday by signing right-hander Adam Ottavino to a three-year, $27 million contract. MLB.com caught up with the Brooklyn native this week and asked him a wide range of questions about everything from growing up a Yankees fan to his respect for the Rockies.
MLB.com: When I first met you last summer, you told me you were a Yankees fan. Besides that, give me the reasons you signed with them.
Adam Ottavino: It was just an overall fit. It checked off all the boxes. They are competitive team, 100-win team last year. Obviously, [I have an] opportunity to play at home and play with the team I grew up watching. I have an opportunity to get better, using the resources that the Yankees have as well as play with the best players in the game -- kind of pick their brains and use that to get myself better, too.
MLB.com: What was the one thing that made you say, "I have to play with the Yankees"?
Ottavino: Honestly, I don't think it was ever one thing. In free agency, you don't know what the offers are going to be like. … But deep down, if it could work out with the Yankees, to me, that's what I want to happen. Once they were in the right area -- contract-wise in terms of where my market was -- then I wanted to make it happen.
MLB.com: You have uniform No. 0. What made you think about having that number? It's cool.
Ottavino: The origin of it is, when I was in Little League, I didn't have a favorite number that was mine. My dad said, "Why don't you try 0?" As in my last name. "That would be cool. That would be cool if you don't have your name on your uniform. It would be representing your last name." I did it and stuck with it.
MLB.com: How is the family feeling about you playing at Yankee Stadium?
Ottavino: They are thrilled if I play anywhere. Even in Colorado, they were super happy. It was a great spot for me there. Playing in the Major Leagues was always my dream. The ability to watch me play often and have my games start at a more reasonable hour is that big for them.
MLB.com: Years ago, your family saw you play in Brooklyn, and now they are going to the Bronx to watch you play. How amazing is that?
Ottavino: It's pretty crazy. It's something you don't expect to happen. When it does happen, it's kind of a surreal feeling for everybody. It's just pretty cool.
MLB.com: You will have a lot of ticket requests. Are you prepared for that?
Ottavino: I'm not getting a lot of tickets. My tickets will be spoken for with my wife and our kids. As long as I can establish that right away, then there is nothing I can really do. People want to come and support me, that's awesome. But I have to focus [on baseball]. I won't be the one handling [tickets].
MLB.com: You are reuniting with Troy Tulowitzki and DJ LeMahieu. How does it feel to play with them?
Ottavino: Great. It's always good to have familiar faces around, especially those guys. Me and DJ pretty much played together during our entire time in Colorado. We follow the same timeline. I'm close with his family. My wife is close to his wife. He is a really great player. One of the great players to watch.
MLB.com: What is something about Troy and DJ that Yankees fans are not aware of?
Ottavino: Those two guys have unbelievable baseball IQs. They both know the game inside and out, and they do a lot of small things to when it comes to winning -- positioning on defense, understanding what the pitcher has to throw and when. They have a good game plan at all times. They are consistent players that play to win. That is something Yankees fans are going to appreciate.
MLB.com: The Red Sox are the World Series champions. Can the Yankees dethrone them, and why?
Ottavino: I think so. The Yankees won 100 games last year. The Red Sox also did the same. They were the two teams who were fighting to get to the World Series. The Red Sox came out on top. Anything can happen in a playoff series, and both teams are positioned to get back to the playoffs. Let's see what happens this year. You have to like the moves that we have made. We have more depth. I like the moves the Yankees have made.
MLB.com: You look at that Yankees bullpen, it's unstoppable. Think about this: You and Aroldis Chapman and others. That is awesome.
Ottavino: It's crazy to think about.
MLB.com: How dominant can the bullpen be?
Ottavino: Right now, it's just on paper. Everybody on a sheet of paper has had good years. They have really good stuff and have the capabilities of dominating. But right now, it's on paper. We have to stay healthy and do our jobs. It remains to be seen whether that happens. If everybody does their jobs, it would be super great.
MLB.com: What's the first thing you want to see when you get to Yankee Stadium?
Ottavino: I think I will spend a little time at Monument Park. I haven't been there yet. I'm more just anxious to be on the mound and do some pitching.
MLB.com: How exciting is that? Yankee Stadium: The best place in town.
Ottavino: It's exciting. I grew up going to the old Yankee Stadium. I went to hundreds of games. It's pretty weird. I always thought I would be out on that field. It's pretty weird to know now that I'm going to be out there consistently. I'm looking forward to it, for sure.
MLB.com: You put out an Instagram [post] of you and David Cone dating back to 1996. You were a kid, then. How weird is it that you will be dealing with Cone, who is now an analyst for the YES Network?
Ottavino: It's funny. I got to meet him last year. He broadcasted one of our playoff games, and we chatted a little bit. Obviously, I'm very familiar with his career. I was a big fan of his. It's great to see how things can change in 20 years. I put that photo out there the other day because my dad sent it to me. I figured it was cool to show it.
MLB.com: Of all the players that are alive and honored at Monument Park, who is the one guy you would like to meet?
Ottavino: My favorite player that is at Monument Park is probably Bernie Williams. He was my hitting idol and always one of my favorite players. I never met him.
MLB.com: Let's talk about the Rockies. Talk about what they mean to you even though you are no longer with the team.
Ottavino: A lot. That's the place where I got my feet on the ground as a Major Leaguer. … When I got to Denver, you don't know what to expect, but it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. The Rockies gave me a wonderful opportunity, stuck with me through some injuries. Overall, it was a great seven years. It was a time in my life that I will always be grateful for.
MLB.com: What are you going to miss most about Colorado?
Ottavino: Where we lived was really quiet, really nice, a real friendly area. It was super easy to get to the ballpark every day. It had good weather in the summer. The people that worked in the Rockies organization, who are not on-TV guys or players, I was close with. The trainers, video people -- they have a great group of people working there. Those people I'm going to miss a lot.
MLB.com: Has it hit you that you are a member of the New York Yankees?
Ottavino: A little bit, but not fully until I put on the uniform and pitch in the actual stadium.
MLB.com: Which team finished second behind the Yankees as far as it showing interest in your services?
Ottavino: There was no one who really finished second. There were a number of teams that were in the mix. I don't want to reveal who they are. They still have people to sign. I have respect for the process.
Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.