Wednesday, August 17 2022
Carlos Correa white Astros uniform looking to the side

Carlos Correa white Astros uniform looking to the side

Back in the Yankee dynasty days, Derek Jeter and Chuck Knoblauch authored an important ice-breaker moment when they showed up to batting practice against Roger Clemens cloaked in catcher’s gear shortly after The Rocket arrived in a trade.

The gag, a wry reference to all the times Clemens had plunked the Yankees, punctured any tension that might have festered between the Yanks and their new ace, who was long viewed as a head-hunting villain. All these years later, it might serve as a guide of sorts on how the club could start smoothing hard feelings if they wind up signing free agent shortstop Carlos Correa.

Correa was the shortstop on the sign-stealing 2017 Astros, the team that knocked off that year’s Yankee club, dashing what might have been the Yanks’ best recent chance at their first title since 2009. The scandal irked the Yankees — Aaron Judge has been particularly vocal — and it’s fair to wonder how Correa would be received inside the clubhouse if he were to sign with the Yankees.

One part humor, one part bluntness might help, says Joe Torre, who was managing the Yankees when Clemens got there in 1999. The joke, cooked up by Jeter and Knoblauch, “lightened the mood right away,” Torre said.

“Don’t hide from (the potential tension). Deal with it.”

Before the trade, “Clemens, obviously, wasn’t popular in our clubhouse,” said Torre, who spoke Thursday night in midtown Manhattan at the fundraising gala for his Safe At Home Foundation, which helps children affected by violence and abuse in their homes, schools and communities.

He added: “But you walk through the door and put on the uniform and you’re ours…I didn’t worry about it because I knew our clubhouse had enough solid people in there.”

Winning, of course, helped — Clemens was part of the final two championship clubs in the Yanks’ run of World Series wins from 1998-2000.

“We embraced talent,” said Bernie Williams, the former center fielder who was part of the red carpet festivities at Torre’s gala.

Correa is certainly talented. He is a 27-year-old two-time All-Star who has five career 20-homer seasons and won a Gold Glove in 2021. He has 18 home runs in 79 career postseason games, along with an .849 OPS.

But Correa is not the only available star in the shortstop market. Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Javier Báez and Trevor Story are the other four headliners, so the Yanks can still upgrade at the position without adding Correa’s baggage.

Maybe hard feelings would soften, but Judge has been critical of the Astros. In spring training of 2020, Judge said the Astros’ 2017 World Series title doesn’t “hold any value with me. You cheated and you didn’t earn it.”

But what if the Yankees ultimately deem Correa to be their best bet at short? Said Torre: “Well, they’d have to deal with it, whatever it is. He’s a good player and he can help them win games.

“There are things that affect you that you have no control over. You’re playing for a team, you have to trust the team that they’re trying to do the best thing for the ballclub.”

Asked if he thought it could work between the Yanks and Correa, Williams responded, “I think talent obviously has to be a part of the equation.

“But I think talent does not mean much if you don’t have chemistry. This is still a team game and you need to have the support of your teammates to have a successful tenure. With that said, I think winning is the biggest equalizer. If he finds early success and they find he’s a big contributor to that success, I think all that other stuff is going to become water under the bridge.

“He definitely needs to take care of business on the field, make sure he establishes himself as a force to be reckoned with in New York.

“Then everything else will fall into place.”

Source: Yahoo Sports


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