Harrison Bader has been frustrated over not be able to play yet for the Yankees, fully understanding the oddity of being traded to a contending team while rehabbing from a foot injury.
The Gold Glove-winning center fielder, who was acquired in a surprising trade-deadline deal from the Cardinals for pitcher Jordan Montgomery, is hoping to be ready by early September after he recovers a bout with plantar fasciitis.
“It’s very difficult. It’s definitely been a challenge,” Bader said before the Yankees’ 3-1 loss to the Rays on Tuesday night in The Bronx. ”You know, walking in here in a boot, I’m sure everybody was like, ‘We just traded for this guy in a boot? Are you serious?’
“But listen, there’s always a greater perspective involved and I think I’m definitely here for a reason. I’m just focused on getting healthy so I can be effective for this team. That’s always the plan. … It will be worth it, because there will be a time when I will be able to put these pinstripes on and do what I do. I’m excited for that.”
The 28-year-old Bronxville native hasn’t played since June 26, when he was with the Cardinals, but has progressed to “Phase 2” of his recovery, according to Yankees manager Aaron Boone. That entails working out in a pool and an anti-gravity treadmill.
Once healthy, the 2021 Gold Glove winner likely will take playing time from slumping Aaron Hicks in center field, allowing Aaron Judge to man right.
“I definitely feel like I’ll be here the first week or so of September, but again, I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” Bader said. “Those guys [on the medical team] are super-talented and they’ve taken a lot of time to build a great program for me. I’m just following what they’ve got for me every single day.
“I don’t really feel it at all right now, and a lot of that has to do with the progression that I’m in.”
Asked what he believes he will add to the Yankees down the stretch, Bader said: “I don’t even want to talk about it without having a chance to prove it. Saying all these things without having the ability to prove it for still a number of weeks, there’s no point. I know what I can add to it, when I’m healthy and just going out there and doing it without talking about it is really what I’m focused on.”