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How interesting that, as the Yankees hit a nadir getting swept at home by the rival Rays, their loudest voice didn’t opine on what went down. He couldn’t, really, not unless he wanted to violate baseball protocol and human common sense.
But Luke Voit, barring further setbacks, should rejoin the Yankees soon. And if the Yankees can keep it together until then, their bold first baseman sure seems like the kind of guy capable of pushing them to the next gear.
“I can’t wait,” Voit, who has been recovering from left-knee surgery, said Friday, before the Yankees opened their homestand with a 10-0 win over the Tigers. “I’m dying.”
After facing live pitching Thursday at the alternate site in Scranton, Voit — who said he also has been sprinting, cutting and fielding — will start an official rehabilitation stint Tuesday night for the Yankees’ new Double-A affiliate in Somerset. He said he thought he’d need about a week’s worth of games to ramp up, and Aaron Boone mentioned the Yankees’ next road trip, which starts May 11 at Tropicana Field against the Rays, as a possible time on the calendar to welcome back their vociferous leader.
“He brings a unique personality to our room,” Boone said. “A guy that obviously plays the game with a lot of energy and a lot of fire. Is a guy that, as we saw last year, goes to the post even when he’s banged up and is able to be productive in those kinds of scenarios.”
The scenario that comes to mind, as the Yankees have staggered through the first month of their season, is last September, when the team dropped five straight games and 15 of 20. It was Voit, at the Blue Jays’ temporary home in Buffalo, who proclaimed, “We have to get back to what the New York Yankees are. I feel like teams aren’t really scared of us right now and it is kind of a sad thing because we are the New York Yankees and obviously the favorite to win the division this year, and that’s obviously gone away so we have to step it up.” Then he closed out the season with a .290/.324/.652 display of walking the walk, homering eight times in those 17 games to win the major-league ding-dong crown with 22.
Think the Yankees, who brought an 11-14 record into Friday’s action could have used Voit’s power and passion when they got swept by the Rays at home April 16-18?
“It’s frustrating. You want to be there with the boys,” Voit said. “I know some of them are pressing a little bit, trying to do too much. But hey, these guys had a good road trip. Obviously they didn’t want to come out like they wanted to (Thursday, a 4-3 ,10-inning loss to the Yankees in Baltimore), but I trust these boys are gonna get the job done.”
For sure, that job will become easier with Voit in the lineup.
“He’s a guy that, like most of our guys, Luke loves to play the game and loves the competition,” Boone said. “I know that’s the biggest thing that’s getting at him right now, because now he’s feeling well and he wants to get back in there and compete with the boys. There’s a lot of intangible things he brings to this group from an energy and an intensity standpoint.”
The Yankees could use some help on tangible things like fundamentals and athleticism, too; Voit hardly will cure all which ails this club with his return. Yet Voit isn’t just equipped to carry a baseball team in general. As evidenced by what he did last September, the 30-year-old is uniquely hard-wired to carry this baseball team, specifically, at least for short spurts.
“I think if they’re going through this stretch in June or July, I don’t think it would be talked about as much,” Voit said of his teammates. “But obviously we’re at the bottom of the division right now and (don’t) have a good record. We’ve just got to get clicking.”
For sure, they’re more likely to click with Voit’s stick and shtick active.
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