Kiner-Falefa 'lost' his car amid trade chaos; Severino makes progress

March 15th, 2022

TAMPA, Fla. -- The post-lockout rush to modify rosters created a frenzy around baseball, one to which Isiah Kiner-Falefa can attest. In less than a week he has gone from expecting to play third base for the Rangers to being told the Twins were all-in on him as their shortstop after they acquired him Saturday, only to hit the highway once more.

Now installed as the Yankees’ starting shortstop, Kiner-Falefa is ready to get comfortable. Dealt by Texas on Friday, Kiner-Falefa’s stay with Minnesota lasted only 35 hours and four minutes before he was acquired by New York in Sunday’s blockbuster trade.

“I had just unpacked all my bags, six bags, and I got the call around 11:30 that night,” Kiner-Falefa said. “It was just a whirlwind. Everything happens for a reason. I wouldn’t be here if Minnesota didn’t grab me, so I’m stoked.”

He would, however, like to know where his car is. Kiner-Falefa had his vehicle shipped to the Rangers’ camp in Surprise, Ariz., then re-routed to Twins camp in Fort Myers, Fla. He’s been assured that those wheels will show up in Tampa eventually, a minor spring inconvenience.

Following the deal, Kiner-Falefa showed his excitement in a pair of Twitter posts -- one indicating that he’d always wanted to be like Derek Jeter, and another as he shaved his beard to conform to the Yanks’ grooming standards. Kiner-Falefa said that the Yankees were his favorite team while growing up in Honolulu, Hawaii.

“I’m a baseball freak,” Kiner-Falefa said. “I love the history of this game; Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Thurman Munson, just to name a few. It’s surreal for me to be able to look around and see that, because every day I put this jersey on -- I’m not there to get [social media] followers or anything. I’m here to win.”

Kiner-Felefa has played shortstop, third base and catcher during his big league career, though he doesn’t expect to get behind the plate again. His catching tenure was the result of being added to a Texas squad that fielded Elvis Andrus at shortstop and Adrian Beltre at third base.

“I never caught in my life until Double-A, then I caught the very next year in the big leagues,” Kiner-Falefa said. “They threw me in the fire; I don’t think people give me enough credit for that. It is what it is; I’m here, I’m a shortstop.”

It’s Sevy season
Luis Severino
impressed the Yanks' coaching staff on Tuesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field, firing two innings of live batting practice against Josh Donaldson, Joey Gallo and Aaron Judge.

Limited to 18 innings since the beginning of the 2019 season due to injuries, Severino seemed “eager” to manager Aaron Boone, who added that Severino is “probably our most ahead pitcher, as far as getting ready to go and get in there.”

Severino could be the first pitcher in the Yanks’ rotation to see the mound in a Grapefruit League game, with Boone intending to use Minor League hurlers for at least the first two games when exhibition play begins on Friday.

“Getting back last year was … really good for him to build some momentum going into the offseason, and he’s carried that with him,” Boone said. “He’s taken his diet very serious. I feel like he’s on a mission to go out and re-establish himself as one of the great starters in this league. I’m really, really pleased with where he’s at.”

Focused on today
Infielder/outfielder Miguel Andújar was recently the victim of a robbery at his farm in the Dominican Republic, where assailants reportedly took jewelry valued at $7,000 as well as a vehicle belonging to his father. Local authorities are continuing to investigate the theft.

“Definitely a tough situation right there,” Andújar said through an interpreter. “What can you say when you go through something like that? At the same time, I’m good and healthy. Thank God that everything worked out well.”

Andújar said that he expects to play first base, third base and the outfield this spring, adding: “I’m here. I’m going to let them try to figure out what kind of role I’m going to have moving forward. It’s a decision they’ll make.”