Sports

Mike Yastrzemski is making a name for himself with Orioles

FORT MYERS, Fla. – There is one compliment above all a baseball player can receive:
Having his manager call him a baseball player. It is succinct and tells you all you need to know.
Asked his thoughts on outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, Orioles manager Buck Showalter didn?t choose otherwise.
?He?s a baseball player,” Showalter said.
One of the hallmarks of spring training is seeing young minor league players in the same game as seasoned veterans. Young players are often given the dubious honor of taking long bus rides for road games the veterans don?t want to make.
?Yeah, I?m getting good at taking the bus,” Yastrzemski, 24, said with a laugh Friday morning, before the Red Sox hosted the O?s. “I could probably go back and forth on I-75 with my eyes closed.”
Often, though, a young player is making the road trips because the big league manager wants to see more of him at the major league level. Such has been the case this spring for Yastrzemski, a 14th-round Orioles? pick out of Vanderbilt and a 2009 St. John?s Prep grad.
Yastrzemski, to the surprise of some, did not receive an invitation to big league camp this spring. This game, though, was his eighth with the major league team.
?It?s been awesome,” Yastrzemski said. “It?s been a lot of fun. I?ve gotten a chance to come up here and play with these guys a little bit and it?s always great to just learn from them and see how they go about their daily business and understand how the game works in that respect.”
In his second spring with the O?s, Yastrzemski, the grandson of Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl, has impressed Showalter. Asked what he has seen from him this spring, Showalter replied:
?Not as much as I would have liked to. If I had to do it over again, we would have had him in big league camp. We didn?t have room because of some of the late signs. So we?re bringing him over every day. It?s got nothing to do with Carl.
?He runs the bases, fields the position, throws the ball to the right place, knows what to do. Your eyes are drawn to his consistency.”
Yastrzemski earned two promotions to play at three levels last season: Single A, High A, and Double A. In 129 games combined, he hit .288 with a .346 on-base percentage and a .490 slugging percentage. His 16 combined triples ? in 535 at-bats ? were more than Dee Gordon?s major league-leading 12 in 609 at-bats for the Marlins.
?I?ve asked a lot of people: Why does he have so many triples?” Showalter said. “I don?t want to hear he runs from home to first hard. There are a lot of guys that do that. And don?t tell me it?s the ballpark because he played in three different ballparks and the triples followed him everywhere he went.
?So what is it? is it a freak of nature? When I look back through his career, it?s not a freak. He hits a lot of triples. He?s a good runner but he?s not (a speed guy). He cuts the bases real well and he?s got some fearlessness to him, and he doesn?t make a coach stop him. A lot of guys that don?t get triples look at third base coaches. But I trust him. I bring him over (to major league games) as much as I can.”
Yastrzemski, an outfielder, entered this game ? an eventual 11-5 O?s win — in the sixth inning as a pinch-runner. Recognizing the famous last name, the crowd in Fort Myers gave him a warm hand. His Hall of Fame grandfather has been in Red Sox camp but was not seen on this day. Yastrzemski knows his famous last name will get him some recognition. But it doesn?t get in the way.
?(He handles it) great,” said Showalter. “He?s proud of it. But he?s not asking for anything. He?s earned everything ?The name gets your attention as you go through reports. (But,) we (drafted) the baseball player.” Maureen Mullen can be reached at mmullen@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MaureenAMullen.

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