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Blackmon happy for ex-teammates in NY

LeMahieu, Ottavino signed with Yankees last offseason
@ladsonbill24
July 19, 2019

NEW YORK -- During this past offseason, Yankees fans were clamoring for the team to go after free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. The fans didn't get what they wanted, but the Yankees' signing of two Rockies -- infielder DJ LeMahieu and reliever Adam Ottavino -- has been a

NEW YORK -- During this past offseason, Yankees fans were clamoring for the team to go after free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

The fans didn't get what they wanted, but the Yankees' signing of two Rockies -- infielder DJ LeMahieu and reliever Adam Ottavino -- has been a revelation. They are two big reasons why the Yankees have the best record in the American League, eight games ahead of the Rays in the AL East, entering Friday's series opener against the Rockies. Their success in New York comes as no surprise to the former teammates they'll face this weekend.

"DJ is a great player," Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon said. "I knew it. I'm glad New York has found out he is a good player. I'm glad Ottavino is doing so well. It's like he picked up where he left off in Colorado."

Those two players were not the higher-profile names going into the offseason, but by the All-Star break, they have dominated for their new team. Their old team, however, has hit a rough patch, having recently been swept by the Giants in Colorado and arriving in the Bronx 16 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.

Both LaMahieu and Ottavino have fond memories of their teammates and their time in Colorado. After all, they became stars in a Rockies uniform.

"It's going to be good to see old friends," LeMahieu said on Thursday. "But once the game starts, I'm ready to get some wins. Our team is pretty loaded with talent. I don't feel any pressure to do anything outside of myself. I feel I have stayed within myself this year. With proving to myself, I just gained respect of my teammates. That's a lot more important."

Said Ottavino: "It's going to be weird to play against friends. It's a series we are going to try to win. I try to look at like that."

Yankees manager Aaron Boone has made the most of the versatile LeMahieu, playing him at first, second and third base, where he has delivered Gold Glove-caliber defense at all three positions. Ottavino -- a setup man -- has dominated hitters, averaging 12.33 strikeouts per nine innings.

"They have been a huge part of our club," Boone said. "Obviously, DJ starting the All-Star Game -- deservedly so -- has been everything we could have hoped for. He came in with a great reputation. Behind the scenes, he has been that and more. Between the lines, he has been a great player for us -- on both sides of the ball.

"As far as Otto, one of the strengths of our team is our bullpen. He has pitched a lot. He has pitched in high-leverage spots throughout the year. ... By and large, he has done the job for us."

LeMahieu signed a two-year, $24 million deal, while Ottavino will make $27 million across three years. Both have been worth every penny for the Yankees. Entering Friday's action, LeMahieu had a slash line of .329/.374/.508. He also led the Yankees in WAR (3.8). Ottavino, with a 1.70 ERA, is one of the best setup men in the game.

Rockies manager Bud Black is not surprised LeMahieu and Ottavino have found a home with the Yankees.

"I think with both of them, they are both experienced, everyday players," Black said. "Their baseball minds were something I was fond of. Coaches and managers like those type of players."

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.