Who's catching Bernie's eye? The Martian and Bader

March 2nd, 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.

grinned as he stood behind home plate at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Wednesday morning, wearing a full Yankees uniform as he plucked the strings of an electric guitar. It represented the combination of two familiar worlds for the fan favorite, who patrolled the outfield for 16 seasons in the Bronx before embarking upon a successful music career.

In camp as a guest instructor this past week, Williams has provided more than just a sweet rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner." A four-time World Series champion with the Yankees (1996, '98, '99 and 2000), Williams has roamed the practice fields, attempting to sprinkle some of that dynasty magic on the present-day Bombers.

"I just want to remind them about the simple things that make this game great and enjoyable," Williams said. "When they're like, 'Oh, my balance is awful,' I'm like, 'You've got it, kid. You don't want to peak in Spring Training.' Who wants to hit 1.000 in Spring Training and then be all tired for the season?"

Williams has focused his attention mainly on the outfield groups, including "The Martian," switch-hitting prospect . The youngest player in camp at age 20, Domínguez spent considerable time with Williams during a recent batting practice session; the pair gestured animatedly as Williams demonstrated his swings from both sides of the plate.

"He’s built like a tank. I remember when I was 20 years old, I was a rail,” Williams said. “He’s got a good attitude, and from everything I’ve heard so far, he is very coachable. He wants to learn. He’s just happy to be here, and he’s not really taking it for granted. I think he’s on a great path right now."

is projected to serve as the Yankees’ starting center fielder this season, looking to build upon a terrific postseason in which he hit .333 with five homers. Williams said that Bader has impressed him, noting that he “seems like a very intense guy.”

“He practices the way he plays, which is actually really good to have that sort of attitude,” Williams said. “There’s no surprises. You don’t have to ramp it up when you’re playing because you’re already at that speed in practice. I don’t know how much of that he’s going to be able to maintain as he gets older, but as long as he can have that, he’s going to be in a good position.”

Williams is one of a group of guest instructors actively participating in camp; Ron Guidry, Willie Randolph, CC Sabathia and Nick Swisher are among the other club alums who have appeared in uniform thus far. Williams said that the coaches help where they can, but ultimately, the club’s veterans have the power to set the tone.

“Seeing all the veterans, they’re going to dictate how comfortable you’re going to be as a young player,” Williams said. “If they kid and they mess around with you, that means they care, because they’re giving the same thing that they got. If you don’t get any kind of feedback from them, you’ve got to worry. These guys are all great guys. There’s really no controversial figures here, no big shots.”