Grisham introduces himself to Yankees with homer

February 24th, 2024

LAKELAND, Fla. -- understands why his name was not in the headlines this past December, his acquisition obscured in the blockbuster trade that delivered Juan Soto to the Yankees. Yet the Gold Glove outfielder intends to prove that he can also make an impact.

Grisham opened his spring in strong fashion, crushing a three-run homer to right field in the Yankees’ 22-10 Grapefruit League win over the Tigers at Publix Field on Saturday. Grisham’s blast off Detroit reliever Jake Higginbotham came off his bat at 111.5 mph and traveled 421 feet, per Statcast.

“I was excited to come over and be a part of this organization that I’ve heard so much about from different players,” Grisham said. “I talked a lot with Matt Carpenter about it, and he filled me in on everything. He said the group of guys here is second to none that he’s been with.”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that he envisions the 27-year-old Grisham playing a significant role this season, describing him as a player who “has had some successes and some struggles at the plate.”

Last season with the Padres, Grisham batted .198 with a .667 OPS, stroking 31 doubles with one triple, 13 home runs, 50 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 153 games.

“We know we have a really talented player that’s done some good things in this game,” Boone said. “Hopefully there’s more. He’s 27 years old. There’s adjustments to be made, and hopefully he starts to move the needle to have him become a more complete player.”

Grisham said he is “excited for a change of scenery” and looks forward to playing defense at Yankee Stadium.

“I got to play there once last year for the first time,” Grisham said. “It’s a big center field, so it’s going to be a lot of fun to run some balls down there.”

Boone has suggested that Grisham will probably leave camp as the fourth outfielder, seeing defensive time when Aaron Judge slots in as the designated hitter.

“You get a premium defender in the middle of the diamond; that’s always very valuable,” Boone said. “It’s one of those areas that hopefully we’re in a better position than a year ago. Hopefully, we have a full roster that’s able to handle those inevitable [injury] things that come up.”

Start me up
Luis Gil worked two innings as the Bombers’ first starting pitcher of the spring, permitting a two-run homer to Andy Ibáñez while walking two and striking out three.

The 25-year-old Gil last pitched in a big league game on May 12, 2022, after which he underwent Tommy John surgery. Gil said that he feels fully recovered.

“As far as velocity and movement, I think it’s better now, actually,” Gil said through an interpreter. “It has to do with all the work that we put together during the offseason and after the injury. The work doesn’t stop there. There’s more work to be done. You can never be satisfied. But I’m feeling pretty good and happy.”

Gil has said that his preference would be to remain as a starting pitcher, though Boone said that he “could envision him being a pretty dynamic back-end [relief] arm, too.”

Fun and games
The Yankees held a group bonding activity Friday in a picnic pavilion at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., with all players and coaches facing off in a ping-pong tournament.

Catcher Luis Torrens -- who homered and drove in a pair of runs as the DH on Saturday -- bested first baseman Anthony Rizzo in the finals to claim the championship.

Up next
Judge and Soto will be in the lineup as the Yankees play their spring home opener Sunday, hosting the Blue Jays for a 1:05 p.m. ET contest at Steinbrenner Field. Carlos Rodón will draw the start for New York in a split-squad contest.

The other half of the Bombers will face the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., with Marcus Stroman and Austin Wells comprising the battery for that 1:05 p.m. ET exhibition.