Season one of Didi Gregorius in the Bronx was always going to have a lot of pressure. Take away the fact that he is the new starting shortstop after Derek Jeter. No one would be able to compare. Gregorius just had to come in, play really strong defense, and hit enough that he was not really deterring the team. Unfortunately, early in the season his offense was abysmal and his defense was sloppy. He made it easy for New York Yankee fans to get on the 25 year old.
Jeter, who has stayed away from the team in his first year of retirement, recently spoke with Gregorius and gave him some words of advice. Gregorius said Jeter told him to “keep it up.” Further, “he just said to keep my head up, keep doing what I’m doing.”
It may not seem like a lot of advice, but Jeter knows what he is doing. He was always the quiet captain, and this is no different. While Gregorius is hitting .232 on the season, in the last 14 days – since approximately when the two spoke, he is hitting .344 with a .371 on base percentage. That is a small sample size, but if Gregorius can get his season average over .250, which he is well on his way to doing, he would turn from a player Yankee fans grown over to a true asset.
In the last month, Gregorius has been a .273 hitter. While he still is not walking at a large clip, he is keeping the line moving in the Yankee lineup. All we expected from him this year was defense. After hitting .206 in April and .232 in May, seeing a .304 June average a third of the way through could lead to a summer of high scoring for the Yankees.
Jeter may start to feel like a distant memory, but his short words of advice are paying dividends. He will not be attending this year’s Old Timers Game, but he deserves that. Both he and fans need some time before seeing him suit up as an old timer. For now, we can see him in little moments. Perhaps the next time Gregorius stays inside the ball and hits a single the other way.