Rougned Odor’s brash Yankees production ‘could make them lethal’
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CLEVELAND — Rougned Odor hit another big homer for the Yankees on Saturday — and added another bat flip.
“He bat-flipped it, so I knew it was gone,’’ Aaron Hicks said of Odor’s latest shot, which provided the go-ahead run in the Yankees’ 2-1 win over the Indians at Progressive Field. “I’m a fan of bat flips, so it’s nice to have a guy on the team where as soon as he bat flips, you know it’s gone.”
The Yankees have pointed to Odor’s “energy” often since he arrived in a trade from Texas earlier this month after being designated for assignment by the Rangers before Opening Day.
Aaron Boone took notice of Odor’s bat flip following his second-inning homer in Friday night’s win, calling it “a pretty good bat flip and the dismount on his homer is pretty special.’’
The flamboyance hasn’t just stood out to Boone.
Former catcher Erik Kratz thought it might be just what the Yankees need.
The retired ex-Yankee wrote on Twitter, “Are the Yankees too professional? Maybe Rougned Odor gives them the swag they need outwardly. He brings a dynamic that, combined with the other talent already on the roster, could make them lethal, even if statistically he doesn’t play well.”
“I don’t try to do it on purpose,’’ Odor said. “That’s the way I am. I don’t like to lose. … I bring energy to the team to take us to another level.”
Lately, Odor has provided both swagger and stats.
In addition to Saturday’s blast and the two-run homer on Friday, the second baseman came up with a go-ahead single in the seventh inning of Thursday’s win in Cleveland.
And he made several solid plays on defense and visited Justin Wilson on the mound when he lost the strike zone, settling down the left-hander.
Asked about Kratz’s observation, Boone said he wanted Odor and the rest of his players to be authentic.
“I definitely think there’s something to [Odor], to what he brings,’’ Boone said. “There’s an energy and enthusiasm he plays with. One of the things we try to encourage with our guys is to come in and be yourself. There is a level of professionalism, no question, that goes with playing here and the leaders on our team set that tone, but I think our guys do a good job — and hopefully we all do a good job — of allowing people to come in and be who they are. And I think Rougned has come in and brought something to the table besides what he brings between the lines. The energy and joy he plays the game with, I think has rubbed off.”
“I always hear him in my outings on the field,’’ Gerrit Cole said. “In the dugout, he’s always trying to motivate people. He’s playing really good defense. … He’s playing really well.”
With Luke Voit out at least another couple of weeks while rehabbing from surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his left knee, Odor has frequently slotted in at second, with DJ LeMahieu at first.
Darren O’Day has liked what he’s seen from Odor — whose reputation preceded him after his infamous fight with Toronto’s Jose Bautista, when Odor slugged Bautista after a play at second base.
“[Odor] is hard-nosed,’’ O’Day said. “He punched a guy in the face. So he’s tough. He’s got a quick right, as well, if we get in any scraps out there.”
And he’s continued to contribute on the field.
“He’s not afraid of situations,’’ O’Day said. “He’s not afraid of much, apparently. He kind of raises the intensity a little bit.”
After going 1-for-17, with a homer, in his previous six games, Odor has four hits and five RBIs in his past three, while providing solid defense at second.
Once Voit is healthy, Odor will likely have to fill more of a utility role, with LeMahieu at second, Gio Urshela at third and Gleyber Torres at shortstop.
In the meantime, he’s at least provided the Yankees with something of a spark of late — and played a key role in a pair of much-needed wins in Cleveland.
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