NEW YORK -- At various times during his four seasons in the Yankees' Minor League system, Tommy Kahnle envisioned what it would be like to wear pinstripes as he passed through the bullpen gates at Yankee Stadium, jogging across the outfield grass to record big outs for the home team.Kahnle
NEW YORK -- At various times during his four seasons in the Yankees' Minor League system, Tommy Kahnle envisioned what it would be like to wear pinstripes as he passed through the bullpen gates at Yankee Stadium, jogging across the outfield grass to record big outs for the home team.
Kahnle got to experience that dream for the first time in Tuesday's 4-2 victory over the Reds, and the 27-year-old right-hander said that it lived up to everything he had imagined on those long bus rides with Staten Island, Charleston, Tampa and Trenton.
"It definitely did," Kahnle said. "Especially when I was warming up, there was a little bit of emotion there. But once that first pitch came, I set those aside and focused on what I needed to do to get Scooter [Gennett] out."
A fifth-round selection in the 2010 Draft, Kahnle posted a 3.07 ERA and 26 saves in 128 appearances as a New York farmhand, playing alongside current Bombers Christopher Austin, Gary Sanchez and Caleb Smith.
Kahnle's high-octane velocity was intriguing, producing 74 strikeouts in 60 innings for Double-A Trenton in 2013, but his fastball command needed work. His 6.8 walks per nine innings that year prompted New York to leave him unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft, where he was plucked by the Rockies.
"I was at the gym. I was actually just getting ready to work out," Kahnle recalled. "That's when I got a call from my agent. He basically told me the Rockies took me in the Rule 5 [Draft], and congratulations. I wouldn't say it was a huge surprise."
Kahnle credits a pair of mechanical changes -- a leg lift and a glove tap -- for helping turn him into the dominant reliever whom the Yankees value. In 41 appearances for the White Sox and Yanks, Kahnle has struck out 66 against just seven walks.
"Really, that's been a huge difference for me," Kahnle said. "The more failure you get, you take that as kind of a motivator as well. I really used that to focus on, 'I need to get better and get my pitches down and get my command down.'"
Kahnle still makes his home in the Albany, N.Y., area and he said that "it means a lot" to be finally suiting up in the Bronx.
"Growing up, a lot of my family and friends were all Yankees fans," Kahnle said. "I feel like I want to do good for them. Each day, I'm just going to come to the yard, work hard and do what I've been doing."
• Aaron Judge was out of the Yankees' lineup on Wednesday, and he is "a little physically beat up," according to manager Joe Girardi, though he said the All-Star right fielder is not dealing with anything serious. Judge ran into the right-field wall pursuing Billy Hamilton's eighth-inning double on Tuesday, and Girardi said that factored into his decision to rest Judge.
"He's diving. He's running into walls," Girardi said. "That's what this guy does. He plays really hard. He went through a tough stretch in the first week [since the All-Star break], but he's swinging the bat better. You saw it in Seattle, the ball he hit to right field yesterday. But I just felt this [day off] is really going to help him."
• Austin (right hamstring strain) and Aaron Hicks (right oblique strain) have resumed baseball activities, hitting off a tee and soft toss in the batting cage. Both players could take on-field BP this week. Greg Bird (right ankle surgery) will wear a boot for at least a week, and he believes he can return to the big league lineup this season.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.