Orioles’ Mike Yastrzemski trying to live up to family name
Published 12:00 am Friday, March 8, 2019
SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — Mike Yastrzemski finally made it to spring training with the Orioles after bouncing around the Baltimore organization since 2013.
Though it was a brief stint, the 28-year-old outfielder known primarily for his last name departed on a high note.
After being invited to the big league camp, Yastrzemski lasted until Sunday before being sent back to the minors. But he was brought back up this week, and made the most of the moment.
The grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski was a late addition to the Orioles’ roster for their game Wednesday against the Rays at Port Charlotte, Florida, and he hit a two-out, ninth-inning home run — his first hit of the spring — off Tampa Bay’s Ryne Stanek.
“That was a beautiful swing right there,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said.
But Yastrzemski was a long shot at best to make the team and earn his first chance to play in the majors.
“He didn’t get the full look we’d like because we have so many outfielders. He played great defense when he went into the game,” Hyde said. “He always took great at-bats, and he gets a pitch to hit off a big league, late-inning guy and hits one over the fence. It’s got to feel good for him.”
Especially considering the journey he has been on.
Yastrzemski rose quickly in the Orioles’ organization. Three years after he was drafted, he was playing for Triple-A Norfolk, but his career stalled there. For the past three seasons, Yastrzemski has split time between Norfolk and Double-A Bowie.
Prior to this spring, Yastrzemski was occasionally added to Baltimore’s roster for Grapefruit League games as an extra player, but this year he got the coveted invite and had nine at-bats before being reassigned to minor league camp.
Last season, when Baltimore used a franchise-record 56 players in its record-setting 115 loss season, Yastrzemski wasn’t called up. The sting was eased by the invitation to spring training.
“It’s kind of like a little piece of a reward,” Yastrzemski said. “Everybody puts in so much hard work and time to be able to be here. To learn from these guys, it’s a great experience.”
Yastrzemski is not the only relative of a noted player to play for the Orioles this spring. First basemen Preston Palmeiro, son of Rafael Palmeiro and Ryan Ripken, son of Cal Ripken Jr. have made cameo appearances in games over the last several days.
Like his famous grandfather, Mike Yastrzemski hits left-handed, but doesn’t have the same power. In six minor league seasons, Yastrzemski has a .260 average, but has never hit more than 15 home runs or had more than 75 RBIs.
Still, Yastrzemski keeps plugging away.
“It’s all a learning experience,” Yastrzemski said. “Everybody’s got their own path to get where they want to go, whatever path that is for me, I’m fine with it. As long as you see some light at the end of the tunnel and you put everything into it, it’s rewarding in that sense.”
NOTES: 1B Chris Davis is out for the third straight day with a strained left hip flexor. . C Austin Wynns is out with a sore left oblique. . LHP Richard Bleier, who had surgery last June, will make his season debut on Saturday.
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