Volpe sparks Yankees' win with 1st MLB triple

April 9th, 2023

BALTIMORE -- As the Yankees shook hands and made their way toward Camden Yards’ visiting clubhouse on Saturday, there were several solid choices for the most outstanding contributor of the game: rookie had twirled five sharp innings, and clubbed a laser homer into the left-field seats.

Yet as arrived at his locker, he found the team’s jewel-encrusted championship belt waiting for him, the first time that the rookie shortstop has been selected in his young career. For Volpe, who belted his first Major League triple in the Yanks’ 4-1 win over the Orioles, the honor “means the world.”

“Being a part of this team and being welcomed in by these guys has made it 10 times better than I ever could have imagined,” Volpe said. “They recognized that I was going through it and struggling, and they were there for me every step of the way.”

Volpe has called his first week in the Majors “the best type of whirlwind,” a journey that began by trotting to his position as the club’s Opening Day shortstop on March 30. Volpe notched his first two hits on April 1 against the Giants, then picked up another single on April 4 against the Phillies, but his bat had gone cold since -- including three strikeouts in New York’s loss at Baltimore on Friday.

But Volpe has the support of general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone, who have discussed how they would react if their 21-year-old top prospect (per MLB Pipeline) experienced April struggles. The answer, Cashman and Boone agreed, would be to allow Volpe to keep playing -- there would be no knee-jerk reactions to any one game, week, or even a month.

“One of the reasons Anthony is here, obviously we believe in the player, but as much as that we believe in the person,” Boone said. “He’s equipped to handle all that, and so he’ll be fine. He’ll get through it. He’s a great player; he’s going to be a great player. He’s equipped to handle this, and we’ll support him all the way.”

That security hardly figured into Volpe’s thinking as he stepped into the batter’s box in the fifth inning on Saturday, his second turn at-bat after striking out swinging against Orioles starter Cole Irvin in the third inning. In the fifth, Volpe fouled off a curveball, fouled off a fastball, then laid off a high sinker to run the count to 1-2.

Irvin’s next pitch was a sinker over the heart of the plate, missing the spot suggested by catcher Adley Rutschman, and Volpe powered it to the opposite field. Right fielder Terrin Vavra strode toward the wall, where the ball struck an advertisement sign and bounded back into play. Volpe raced for second and never slowed, diving headfirst into third base with the first extra-base hit of his MLB career.

“I think the process of that helped me settle in,” Volpe said. “Taking that [0-2] pitch before allowed me to get a better result. At the end of the day, even if I’d barreled a ball and it got caught, I felt good about the process of it and the fact that I feel like I can make an adjustment.”

According to Statcast, Volpe’s drive would have been a home run in eight Major League ballparks, including Yankee Stadium.

Instead, it sparked a three-run rally; Volpe would trot home on ’s double a few pitches later, then cheer from the dugout when lifted a sacrifice fly off Irvin and Stanton greeted reliever Austin Voth by muscling a Statcast-projected 436-foot blast into the left-field seats.

“That guy hits baseballs harder than anybody I know,” said , who stroked an RBI single for his first hit of the season in the fourth. “It’s definitely impressive to see line drives at 18 degrees go out for homers. It’s fun to watch.”

Added Boone: “The Great Wall of Baltimore tried to hold him in, but it doesn’t hold Big G. That thing just kept taking off on a clothesline.”

On an evening the 25-year-old Brito seemed to secure a place in the Yankees’ rotation by limiting the O’s to three hits over five innings, Volpe’s takeaway from his first week-plus in the big leagues is that he may have been too hard on himself, expecting immediate results. He’d instead like to operate as he did in the fifth inning -- one pitch at a time.

“I have the best teammates in the world to give scouting reports and stuff like that,” Volpe said. “As long as the process is good and I’m making good swing decisions, squaring up the ball, the rest will take care of itself.”