Hours before the Yankees’ series finale against the Tigers, Jasson Domínguez found himself performing baserunning drills while his teammates took batting practice.
Perhaps it was a coincidence, but his manager had just mentioned baserunning when asked what he would like to see the center fielder work on the rest of the season.
“Just being really situationally aware,” Aaron Boone said Thursday. “How does he react on the bases? Not necessarily in a base-stealing way, but just awareness of where the defense is, the reads, outs, when to tag, those little nuanced things.”
With three home runs in his first five games, Domínguez may look like a finished product, but that is far from the case. As well as the very beginning of his major league career has gone, the 20-year-old is still refining his skills, settling into life in the majors, and being evaluated as the Yankees keep an eye on 2024 and beyond.
Boone went on to say that he wants to see how Domínguez communicates with his fellow outfielders, mostly Aaron Judge in right and Everson Pereira in center. “Is he taking charge out there?” Boone noted, though there haven’t been any issues so far.
The skipper also said that he wants to see how Domínguez handles the adjustments pitchers make as the rest of the league gets more data on him. Boone has repeatedly said that the rookie doesn’t bring any anxiety to the plate, and he’s been impressed with Domínguez’s ability to lay off tough pitches.
But as his sample size grows, the way Domínguez is approached will change.
“Inevitably, people are going to continue to create a book and try to attack you in certain ways,” Boone said. “It’s on hitters to constantly be able to process that and make their own adjustments.”
However Domínguez looks the rest of the year, Boone said that simply getting experience, playing every day, and learning from the veterans around him are “the biggest things” for his development. There will be bumps in the road, but Boone is confident that Domínguez has what it takes to adapt when the competition does the same.
“He’s gonna go through growing pains,” Boone said, “but I think everyone’s gotten a little peek at his talent and just what it could be, and I think that has people understandably excited.”
NO MORE MIGUEL
When the Yankees were in Detroit last week, Carlos Mendoza organized a pregame meet and greet between the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera and Baby Bombers Oswaldo Cabrera, Oswald Peraza and Pereira. The five are Venezuelan, and the Tigers’ Cabrera is retiring after season.
“You could see it in their eyes, their faces, their reactions,” Mendoza told the Daily News of the young Yankees’ reactions. “This is their hero. It was great for all of them to just listen to one of the best right-handed hitters, if not the best, in the history of the game.”
Mendoza, who got to know Cabrera while playing winter ball years ago, said the future Hall of Famer talked about his career, hitting approaches and the ups and downs that come with a long season. Boone called the bonding session, “one of the best things that’s happened to us in the last couple of weeks.”
“I know it was really important to our guys,” Boone continued, “and I think something that’ll be invaluable to them.”
With the Tigers in the Bronx this week, the Yankees opened the series by showering Cabrera with gifts on Tuesday. The 40-year-old, playing in his final game at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, received a team-signed subway sign, a $10,000 check for his foundation and a painting of him hitting a game-tying home run off Mariano Rivera in 2013.
“I was fortunate to play with a lot of great players and great hitters and, to me, [he’s] the smartest hitter I ever played with,” said Boone, who shared a Marlins clubhouse with Cabrera in 2007. “He’s just obviously great, but just on another level as far as knowing what pitchers are going to do to him beforehand. Just such a great, great player, but I hope people realize how smart of a player he is.”
Cabrera, now in his 21st season, is already a member of the 3,000-hit club and the 500-home run club. The two-time MVP, Triple Crown winner, and 2003 World Series champion entered Thursday’s game with 1,875 RBI and a .307 average for his soon-to-be-ending career.
“It’s definitely weird,” Mendoza said when asked about facing Cabrera one last time. “It’s sad, obviously. Especially, being from Venezuela, knowing who he is and what he’s been able to accomplish. I’m gonna make sure I enjoy that today.”
Speaking of Venezuelan Yankees, Gleyber Torres has continued to grow as a leader with the team currently rostering several youngsters from his home country.
“He definitely has. Especially, you’re talking about a few guys that are his countrymen,” Boone said. “I think that’s been neat for him, and I think that has been something that’s been worked in.”
While Pereira, Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera are all 24 or younger, Torres isn’t that far behind at 26. However, the first three are all in their first or second seasons. Torres is in his sixth.
“I do think he’s grown a lot in where he’s at, as still a very young man and in what’s been a six-year career,” said Boone, who added that Torres has had his most consistent offensive season this year.
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