It took a while, but Harrison Bader made it worth the wait.
The center fielder the Yankees acquired at the trade deadline made his debut with the Bombers Tuesday night with two singles and three RBI as the Yankees rallied for a 9-8 win over the Pirates at Yankee Stadium.
In his first game since June 26, with the Cardinals, Bader tied his season high with three RBI — the most by a Yankee in his team debut since Giancarlo Stanton had four on Opening Day in 2018.
It was all the more special for Bader, because he grew up in nearby Bronxville rooting for the Yankees.
“With all due respect to Yankees fans, I mean, I think it is great for the fans here to have a New York native and a lot of the fans that have cheered us on during the games,” Bader said. “I was that when I was younger, so it definitely is special. And again, I just want to be the best version of myself for them. I think Jeter said it best when he said that fans boo because they want to cheer. So I’m gonna go out there and do my best to give him something to cheer for. And hopefully it’s a win after nine innings.”
After striking out in his first at-bat, Bader singled in a run in the fifth inning. He scored from second on an excellent read of Pirates center fielder Bryan Reynolds trying to come in on Jose Trevino’s shallow flyball. In the sixth inning, after a wild pitch put runners on second and third, Bader singled through a drawn-in infield to bring in both runners.
The Bombers traded lefty Jordan Montgomery for Bader, even though he had not played since June because of plantar fasciitis. The New York native was excited to put the injury and rehab in the past and get going Tuesday night.
“I’m excited to get on anything,” Bader said. “I’m excited to put on any big league uniform and I’m excited to go out there and compete at the major level. So it’s definitely some special history year for me here, I was in the stands here when I was younger.
“But, again at the end of the day, we got to be effective,” Bader said. “We got a baseball game to win so I’m just gonna focus on taking clean routes to the ball and go out there and just hit my first cut-off man.”
Bader, who grew up in Bronxville and went to the private school Horace Mann, was a career .246/.320/.409 hitter in six seasons with the Cardinals. He has 52 career homers and 168 RBI.