NEW YORK -- When Didi Gregorius was aiming for a trip to the All-Star Game this past summer, the Yankees shortstop utilized unique ways to lobby for votes, including offering free swipes on the New York City subway and taking photos for tourists at iconic locations.In this season of giving,
NEW YORK -- When Didi Gregorius was aiming for a trip to the All-Star Game this past summer, the Yankees shortstop utilized unique ways to lobby for votes, including offering free swipes on the New York City subway and taking photos for tourists at iconic locations.
In this season of giving, Gregorius recently returned to the Big Apple with the mission of spreading joy and cheer.
"I'm back. Didi's deeds, holiday edition," Gregorius said. "We're here to bring some joy to the kids. I'll be around."
Carrying a bag filled with goodies, Gregorius moved across the island of Manhattan, visiting the Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where he donned a red and green elf suit to pose for pictures with patients and brighten their days.
Seven miles south, Gregorius emerged again on a chilly December afternoon, handing out high-fives to young fans and distributing knit Yankees caps to fans. He approached two New York City police officers stationed outside Rockefeller Plaza, one of whom recognized him instantly.
"Oh, wow," the officer said, embracing Gregorius while exchanging a hearty handshake. "Didi, what's up, brother?"
That same day, Gregorius stood near the crosswalk of a busy intersection, spotting a fan walking toward him while wearing an orange and blue Mets cap. Gregorius dug into his stash and presented the fan with a Yankees cap, holding his team's logo over that of their crosstown rivals.
"It's better for you," Gregorius told him, though it remained a tough sell.
As the 28-year-old looks to improve upon a 25-homer season in which he surpassed Derek Jeter's franchise record (24) for long balls by a shortstop, Gregorius has continued to find ways for his personality to shine through to fans.
In addition to the occasional #DIDIsDeeds, which he shares on Instagram and Twitter, Gregorius' emoji-filled tweets have become must-reads after every Yankees victory. He was also one of the most active participants in the team's fun dugout shenanigans, which included the celebratory "thumbs-down" gestures that marked the season's final two months, as well as mock interviews with players after big home runs.
"It just shows the whole team is together," Gregorius said. "We started something, and you want the whole team to be in on it. That shows everybody is together. Everybody plays hard. It's just keeping everybody loose, keeping everybody happy and concentrating on the game at the same time. The more relaxed we are, I think, the better."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.