Will Yanks turn over closer duties to Betances?
American League Rookie of Year finalist is prepared for any role in 2015
NEW YORK -- The Yankees will be employing their fourth full-time closer in four seasons when the 2015 campaign begins, a statement that would have been nearly unthinkable just a few years ago. If the challenge falls upon Dellin Betances, he vows to be prepared.
"For me, I think I would just try to treat everything the same, no matter what happens," Betances said. "I know obviously it's a different role, but I'm just looking forward to helping the team win, no matter what situation they want me in."
Betances spoke on Friday at Yankee Stadium, where he took part in the annual Bronx Winter Wonderland Event. Approximately 5,000 local children enjoyed the holiday extravaganza, with some receiving gifts directly from the Yankees right-hander.
"This is what it's all about, at the end of the day," Betances said. "For me, it's about putting smiles on these kids' faces, especially for the community here in the Bronx. I'm definitely happy and thrilled to give some gifts to these kids, and make them go home happy."
Those guests might have been shaking hands with the man responsible for logging the Yanks' final outs of 2015; in the wake of David Robertson's departure to the White Sox, the club has yet to anoint a successor in what has become an improbably regular development.
Rafael Soriano filled the role in 2012 when an injury threatened Mariano Rivera's career, then Rivera returned to reclaim his job in '13 before the all-time saves leader handed it off to Robertson. Could the 27-year-old Betances be next?
"I don't know," he said. "I'm looking forward to Spring Training. I'm just working hard and whatever role I get, I'm just trying to help the team win."
Betances said that he was surprised that Robertson left for Chicago, but he is pleased for his former teammate, who secured 39 of 44 save chances in 2014 and agreed to a four-year, $46 million deal after the Yankees declined to make a contract offer.
"He did a [great] job last year," Betances said. "Obviously, he was a free agent and I guess he found a good fit for him. I'm happy for him, he got a good contract, obviously. That's good for him and his family."
The Yankees expect to have a set closer, rather than a closer by committee situation, and have dabbled on the free-agent market. They may ultimately feel comfortable in having a pair of dominant options on staff with Betances and left-hander Andrew Miller, who signed a four-year, $36 million pact this month.
"I believe in the guys we have down there, especially getting Miller," Betances said. "He's a guy that is a high strikeout guy and can get both lefties and righties out. We still have [Adam] Warren, [Shawn] Kelley and a bunch of guys don't there that can help us out as well."
Betances had a sparkling 1.40 ERA and one save in 70 appearances for New York this past season, shattering Rivera's franchise single-season record for strikeouts by a reliever with 135, while earning his first career All-Star selection.
Betances said that being able to share a bullpen with both Rivera and Robertson should help him continue to improve and excel in the future.
"One [piece of] advice that [Robertson] and Mo always gave us, the younger kids, is just have a short memory," Betances said. "No matter what happens, believe in yourself and there's always better days ahead.
"There's times that things aren't going to go your way, but that's why we play so many games. That's why I love pitching out of the bullpen."