New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius (18) turns a double play against the Chicago White Sox at U.S Cellular Field.
By Brendan Kuty
CHICAGO — There was a point early in Didi Gregorius’ tenure with the Yankees where he looked like he may have been more comfortable in the minors than with the big-league club, the enormity of replacing Derek Jeter and the unfamiliarity of his first full-time job weighing on his 25-year-old shoulders.
That guy? He’s gone. When asked what he sees different in Gregorius from when the team asked him to tutor with the young shortstop in April, Alex Rodriguez’s answer was simple: “Everything.”
He might be right. Gone are most of the mental mistake. And gone is the uneven approach at the plate. The evidence? His .438 batting average over the Yankees’ 12-game road trip, which ended with Sunday’s 12-3 victory over the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
Gregorius played a key role in the beatdown. His unassisted double play in the second inning was a thing of beauty as he slid, backhanded Adam LaRoche’s grounder just to the right of second base, dragged his foot over the bag and fired to first base.
He also went 2-for-4 and scored three times in a game for the first time this season.
Gregorius has raised his batting average to .260 — a long way from when he was hitting .206 at the end of April and fans were reminiscing of the broken down, 40-year-old Jeter of 2014.
“Didi’s been awesome, both sides of the ball,” Rodriguez said. “He’s hitting the ball line to line, and now he’s starting to drive in runs. It’s been awesome.”
Rodriguez continued, “Just the way he carries himself, his demeanor, he feels very comfortable on both sides of the ball. Hitting the ball line to line. Btu I mean, the one thing he’s putting together now is great at-bats with men on base. That’s a great key for our team.”
Manager Joe Girardi agreed.
“Just maturing, playing everyday,” the manager said. “He’s getting consistent reps against left-handers and right-handers and just getting comfortable with the work that he’s done with trying to improve.”