Derek Jeter was hardly in the clubhouse last season. He popped in from time to time — and there a handful of days when he was actually on the active roster — but for the most part, the Yankees captain was rehabbing in Tampa. Alex Rodriguez was also gone most of the year. So were Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. Alfonso Soriano didn’t show up until past the All-Star break, and the big personalities of Nick Swisher and Russell Martin were in the middle of the country, far from Yankee Stadium.
So who were the key voices speaking for the Yankees last season?
Robinson Cano was the team’s best player, and he filled that void to some extent. Vernon Wells provided veteran, big-picture perspective with an enjoyable personality. Same for Lyle Overbay from time to time. Chris Stewart was actually a pretty good and thoughtful interview. And of course Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte were around as the connection to past success and tradition.
I’m thinking of this today, as I make my way to Tampa, because of Justin’s morning post. We’ve talked a lot about how much the roster has changed since last season, but I think we’re still waiting to find out how the personality of the team has evolved.
The only returning Yankees who spoke fairly often and helped shape the personality of last year’s team are CC Sabathia, Brett Gardner (kind of) and Dave Robertson (a little bit). Sabathia’s laid back demeanor is pretty familiar at this point, and I think it does help shape those around around. Gardner’s been around long enough that he knows how things have been done in the past, and Robertson has the kind of unassuming personality that works well for a reliever. That said, I’m not sure anyone thinks of Gardner and Robertson as voices of the Yankees. They certainly don’t define the team.
I’m curious to find out in these next few weeks what the clubhouse personality will be with all of these new faces. Based on the little time I’ve spent around him, Carlos Beltran seems kind of Jeter-like in the sense that he seems grounded and professional. Even if he’s not Jeter-like, I think he’ll fall in line easily with Jeter’s brand of leadership. Jacoby Ellsbury seems to not say a whole lot, but Brian McCann certainly comes across as fiery. And it’s worth remembering that Matt Thronton used to be a closer in Chicago, and Brian Roberts used to be one of the few elite players in Baltimore, so those two are used to speaking out and having their words carry weight.
Personalities certainly matter in this game. And the personality of the Yankees can’t help but evolve as the clubhouse changes.
Associated Press photo