Notes: Ford content with limited playing time

July 30th, 2020

In manager Aaron Boone's view, could probably serve as a productive, middle-of-the-order hitter for several big league teams right now. Though the first baseman is competing with for plate appearances on the Yankees' roster, this opportunity and role suits him just fine.

"There's nowhere I'd rather be," Ford said. "Obviously a situation with playing time might be a little bit better here and there, but this is where I want to be. This is what I grew up loving. To be able to lock in that clubhouse with caliber of players we have and learn from them, even being 28, who knows what can happen in your career?"

Ford made his first start of the season on Wednesday as the Yankees opened a two-game series against the Orioles at Camden Yards, games that were rescheduled from next week after the Phillies' season was paused to allow for additional COVID-19 testing. Boone said that he had originally planned to start Ford on Monday.

During the Yankees' two postponements, Ford and his teammates remained in a Philadelphia hotel. Ford said that he limited his activities to chatting with teammates and picking up an occasional cup of coffee; Ford said that though his brother lives in the city, they did not meet out of an abundance of caution.

"It's been nice to just kind of be around the guys [on the team] a little bit more, get to know people a little bit more, which I think will be the positive that comes out of the year -- especially being a guy that hasn't been here as long," Ford said.

Through the Yanks' first three games, Ford was limited to one pinch-hitting appearance, lining a single to center field off the Nationals' Kyle Finnegan on Saturday. That offered Ford ample opportunity to watch the 2020 version of Major League Baseball from a different viewpoint, and he said that he misses the energy that fans bring to the ballpark atmosphere.

"I derive a lot of my pleasure out of making fans' days, making fans happy and hearing that roar," Ford said. "That's a huge part of the game for me, so it's definitely strange, but it's still Major League Baseball and you're still facing some really good arms. It's something you've got to be really laser-focused on and I think we're doing a pretty good job."

Welcome to 'The Show'
Two years ago, was in the uniform of the Class A Staten Island Yankees for a second consecutive summer, wondering if his path toward the big leagues had reached a dead end. On Wednesday, the 26-year-old right-hander jogged out of the bullpen at Camden Yards, making his Major League debut by sealing the Yankees' 9-3 victory over the Orioles.

"I was never going to quit," Kriske said. "We get one shot at this and I think most of us are kind of wired the same way -- we're not going to quit. I definitely went into 2019 not sure if I was going to make it through Spring Training. I was getting older and I kind of felt like I was on my last legs. I gave it my all that offseason and it paid off."

A sixth-round selection in the 2016 MLB Draft from the University of Southern California, Kriske pitched around a leadoff walk and recorded two strikeouts in his scoreless inning. Kriske said he forgot to save the ball from his first strikeout, when he caught Pedro Severino looking at an 83.8 mph slider, but Gerrit Cole presented the rookie with Wednesday's lineup card as a keepsake.

"There's a lot of friends and family congratulating me," said Kriske, who said that his immediate family members were watching from Arizona. "It's really cool. It's people that have been part of this journey with me. They say it takes a village and I've been lucky to have a lot of people in my corner."

Roll with it
Within the span of a few hours on Wednesday afternoon, the Yankees pivoted from loading an equipment truck in anticipation of a workout at Yankee Stadium to taking batting practice under the lights at Camden Yards.

As and his teammates boarded buses in Philadelphia on Wednesday, having voted to play the Orioles rather than return home, some expressed bemusement at the situation. Mostly, they were eager for the opportunity to continue their season.

"I think it would be weirder if it came out of the blue," Ottavino said. "This whole year, once we agreed to play, you've kind of had your head on a swivel the whole time. Things can change. The mindset has been there to be able to react to something like this from the beginning. Seven-day road trip, nine-day road trip, it doesn't really matter. Anything's possible. You focus on what you can control."

Ben Tuliebitz, the Yankees' traveling secretary, said that he typically keeps the club's schedule mapped out eight to 12 months in advance. It was unprecedented to scramble on short notice and book about 70 hotel rooms in Baltimore's Inner Harbor for players, coaches and staff members, plus the requisite meal service and transportation, but Tuliebitz succeeded.

"The most difficult part about this is just making sure we're doing things right," Tuliebitz said. "We could probably throw together things pretty quickly if we wanted to, but we're trying to be careful about how we do things -- how we're getting into hotels, how we're spacing out the rooms and doing our part to make sure that we're keeping up with the MLB protocols. It's an extra layer, rather than just finding a hotel that can accommodate the team and getting a contract signed."

Bombers bits
Boone has outlined the pitching for this weekend's series against the Red Sox. Jordan Montgomery will start Friday's home opener, to be followed by Masahiro Tanaka on Saturday and James Paxton on Sunday.

Though the schedule has not yet been finalized, Boone said that he expects the Yankees will make up the four postponements against the Phillies next week. The club is still expected to travel to play the Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla., where a doubleheader may be added.

Up next
The Yankees and Orioles will continue their two-game series on Thursday at Camden Yards, with left-hander J.A. Happ set to make his season debut for the Bombers. John Means is scheduled to start for Baltimore, and first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.