This Yanks slugger is returning soon

April 25th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Bryan Hoch’s Yankees Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

introduced himself to New York by enjoying one of the most productive Octobers in franchise history, joining an elite group by belting five home runs as the Yankees battled the Guardians and Astros last autumn. The center fielder can’t wait to author his encore.

Sidelined for much of the spring by a left oblique strain, Bader is back in action, having played a couple of Minor League rehab games with Double-A Somerset and set to join Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday.

“I feel good,” Bader said. “I’ve checked off all the boxes in the rehab process to get back on the field and play. I’m looking forward to just going out there and getting my game ready to go help the team in the Bronx win some baseball games.”

The Yankees have a conservative plan to ease the 28-year-old Bader back into pinstripes, with manager Aaron Boone saying that the organization wants to see him play back-to-back nine-inning games before activation.

Boone said Bader is not expected to join the big league club for its upcoming series against the Rangers (April 27-30) or Guardians (May 1-3). Early timetables indicate that the May 5-7 series against the Rays at Tropicana Field could be in play.

“Any time you get a chance to put on a uniform, whether it’s in Double-A, Triple-A or the Major Leagues, you’re just really fortunate,” Bader said. “I’m just thankful to be surrounded by people that helped me get better and get back on the field.”

Bader was acquired from the Cardinals at the Trade Deadline last Aug. 2, a swap that initially prompted head-scratching from many observers. The Yanks parted with left-hander Jordan Montgomery in exchange for Bader, who was wearing a walking boot during a lengthy recovery from right plantar fasciitis.

But the Yanks’ medical team strongly believed Bader would be healthy in September and for the postseason, which is what happened.

Bader hit .333/.429/.833 (10-for-30) with eight runs, five homers and six RBIs during the playoffs, joining Reggie Jackson (five HRs in 1977), Bernie Williams (six HRs in 1996), Alex Rodriguez (six HRs in 2009) and Giancarlo Stanton (six HRs in 2020) as the only Yanks to hit at least five homers in a single postseason.

“I was just playing my game, was really comfortable in my surroundings and really comfortable with my teammates,” Bader said. “I was in a position where I was really healthy. When you pair those things together, you go out there and you kind of relax and just play your game. I’m certainly capable of playing good baseball. It really just comes back to getting to that point where you’re confident in every aspect of your game.”