TAMPA — Greg Chicken was again in acquainted territory Saturday afternoon, roaming round George M. Steinbrenner Area and flashing his simple energy in batting apply.
However the first baseman additionally had lengthy hair, a beard and good well being — the primary two of which he by no means had with the Yankees and the third not usually sufficient.
Chicken, who appeared to be a Yankees cornerstone not way back, is now making an attempt to make his main league comeback with the Blue Jays. He signed a minor league take care of an invitation to large league camp earlier this month, and seems to have a shot at making Toronto’s Opening Day roster.
“You all the time suppose [what if],” Chicken stated of his Yankees tenure earlier than crushing a two-run homer in Saturday’s exhibition. “However you look again on the previous and study from it, not dwell on it. It’s enjoyable to reminisce and discuss. I’ll ceaselessly maintain recollections that I had with [Aaron Judge] and different guys. But it surely occurred the best way it occurred and you’ll’t change it. We had enjoyable and I’m trying ahead to watching him play and enjoying in opposition to him now.”
Choose described Chicken as probably the greatest hitters he has performed with — “I nonetheless imagine that,” the Yankees slugger stated Saturday — however Chicken’s time in The Bronx was derailed by accidents. There was the surgical procedure for a torn labrum that sidelined him for all of 2016, plus ankle and foot accidents that restricted him to simply 140 video games from 2017-2019.
The Yankees had lastly seen sufficient after the 2019 season, designating Chicken for project, and he has not been again to the massive leagues since, after signing minor league offers with the Rangers, Phillies and Rockies.
However Chicken nonetheless had a “tremendous” essential yr in 2021, staying wholesome for an entire season whereas enjoying 112 video games with a .894 OPS for the Rockies’ Triple-A affiliate.
“It sucks being a baseball participant and never enjoying baseball,” Chicken stated. “Mentally, it’s like scar tissue, I suppose is the best way I clarify it.”
Chicken is hoping to make use of these experiences to his benefit to revive his profession. After Saturday, he was batting 5-for-12 with a double, two house runs house run and 5 walks in six Grapefruit League video games. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has the stranglehold on first base, however there’s a possible spot for Chicken as his backup.
“I gotta preserve going,” Chicken stated. “There’s nonetheless a number of spring left. I gotta preserve working exhausting and displaying them I can do that.”
And even when he makes the Yankees’ AL East foe, Chicken could have some followers in The Bronx.
“He’s a power to be reckoned with,” Choose stated. “That’s one factor he by no means misplaced, he’s all the time been in a position to swing the bat when he’s wholesome. I would like him to do all these issues, simply not in opposition to us.”
— Further reporting by Dan Martin