With just one more game between him and the All-Star break, Aaron Boone’s pregame press conference on Sunday took on a relaxed, last day of school sort of feeling. Boone said he’s not going to completely check out, but Vacation Aaron is definitely on his way.
“I’ll be on vacation, but I’ll be watching the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game,” he said. “I’m still disappointed they don’t wear our uniforms. We need to bring that back. The unis are cool, but our own unis are cooler. I’ll be tuning in with a spatula and some board shorts on.”
Situations like this always allow for reflection, and Boone thought back on the entirety of his team’s first half with a noticeable admiration. He was asked what stands out about his team, a squad that has turned in one of the best first halves in MLB history.
“The ways we’ve been able to win games and the confidence that this team has that we can win in any kind of way,” Boone said. “That starts with the commitment the guys made from Day 1 of spring training. They’ve been really committed and obsessive with the details.”
That doesn’t mean things have been a cakewalk. Injuries come for every team, and the Yankees have had a lot of pitchers get taken out by various ailments. Zack Britton has not pitched at all after his Tommy John surgery, Chad Green is done for the rest of the year because of the same operation, and Luis Severino, Miguel Castro and Ron Marinaccio have all had shoulder issues creep up in the past month, while Jonathan Loaisiga and Aroldis Chapman just got back from their own injuries.
Because of that, the Yankees currently have some guys in the bullpen who many fans know nothing about. The skipper has tried to be cautious of his pitcher usage knowing that they’d get a little respite for the Midsummer Classic.
“You get to this point and you see that All-Star break in sight, especially with pitchers and sometimes bullpen guys, you want to make sure you’re keeping them as fresh as possible,” Boone said. “That’s never truly possible, but being mindful of that as you strike the balance between the urgency of the day and the long game, too. The timing of the All-Star break usually tends to be a good thing.”
Domingo German is going to be back in the fold after the break, with Boone mentioning on Saturday that he could even make a few starts. In taking stock of all that has gone wrong this season, Boone immediately flipped the conversation to all the things that have gone right.
“We’re hoping to get guys — potentially Britton — and more guys back into the mix as we go,” he said. “The good thing is, we’ve had guys like Clarke Schmidt step up, guys like JP Sears step up. They’ve not just filled a role, but impactfully filled a role, and showed the promise they have. We’re excited to get German back in the mix now. All things considered, we’re in a pretty good spot.”
The Yankees are second in the league in WHIP (1.08), third in team ERA (3.09), and fourth in strikeout rate (24.9%) and pitcher WAR (12.9) heading into Sunday’s game.
“We are keenly aware of how much longer we’ve got to go,” Boone said. “All we’ve done is put ourself in a great position to do something special.”
CARPENTER DRAWING MAAS COMPARISONS
The tear that Matt Carpenter is on — fresh off his third multi-homer game with the Yankees, a team he signed with in late-May — led Boone to remember Kevin Maas. A left-handed hitter like Carpenter, Maas came up with the Yankees on June 29, 1990 and registered 15 homers in his first 42 games. The Yankees were awful that year, but Maas finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, providing a lone bright spot in an otherwise dark year.
“I remember that story very well and all the home runs he was hitting,” Boone told reporters. “Coincidentally, I got to play with Kevin Maas in Triple-A on my way up. We used to play the credit card game at breakfast, and I lost every time. I think he had something to do with that. I think that was some veteran chops, taking advantage of me, and I didn’t know what was going on. I lost that thing every time. Fortunately, it was like Cracker Barrel and stuff like that. It wasn’t killing me, but I still didn’t like it. No, he was cool.”
DOMINGUEZ SHOWS OFF THE POWER
Jasson Dominguez impressed on Saturday. The Yankees’ highly touted 19-year-old outfield prospect, who was promoted to High-A earlier this week, sent a ball into orbit during the Futures Game. Boone was asked for his thoughts on the mammoth homer.
“Bomb, that was pretty good for a young man,” he said with amazement. “I actually looked at that this morning. You get a little peek at a young man with special power.”