IKF can plug any hole for Yanks, earning more playing time

July 5th, 2023

NEW YORK –  is an all-purpose player for the Yankees. In fact, he has played seven positions for New York this season, all the spots on the field except for first base and catcher.

Playing a handful of positions hasn’t affected his bat. Since June 1, in fact, Kiner-Falefa is 21-for-68 (.309), prompting manager Aaron Boone to say Tuesday morning that Kiner-Falefa deserves more playing time. On Tuesday afternoon against the Orioles, Kiner-Falefa started at third base over Josh Donaldson and DJ Lemahieu, both of whom have been struggling at the plate of late.

“Issy has played really well for us and is doing it at a lot of different positions,” Boone said. “Obviously, he is playing a lot of outfield. He has been excellent there. He has been really good at third when we spotted him over there. He is playing a good brand of baseball right now.

“He has given us good at-bats. He brings a speed component to the game. So, we’ll see as we continue to move forward. Isiah has certainly earned himself a lot of playing time wherever that is on the field. I feel comfortable putting him just about anywhere on the field.”

Kiner-Falefa says he feels free whenever he is in the batter’s box.

“I feel I don’t need to force anything," he said. "I feel I can be myself. I just feel valuable to the team and knowing that I’m valuable, I have the confidence to go up there and take a hack.”

While he is more comfortable playing the infield – remember, he is a Gold Glove third baseman – Kiner-Falefa enjoys playing the outfield with center fielder Harrison Bader.

“When I’m out there with Bader, he is fun,” Kiner-Falefa said. “He brings a lot of energy. He is very engaging when it comes to the game. It’s fun to look out there and see other guys I’m on the field with. I’m having a blast right now.”

Bader has been impressed by what he has seen from Kiner-Falefa this season.

“He has been incredible,” Bader said. “I can see his energy and what he brings to the table. Regardless of the position he is playing or if he is not in the lineup, he has been such a huge part of this team for similar reasons. He is such a positive guy, always supporting teammates. He is always asking questions whether he is in left field or right field. He wants to learn. That speaks volumes of who he is, not only as a baseball player, but his character behind the scenes that allows him to be that baseball player. It has been awesome to watch.”

However, Kiner-Falefa hopes he never gets the chance to be behind the plate or wear a first baseman’s mitt.

“If I’m doing that, it’s going to be an emergency. That means someone went down or something bad happened. Hopefully not."