Yankees: Darren O’Day praises Rougned Odor with Jose Bautista reference


To Yankees fans, Rougned Odor’s not just the man who punched Jose Bautista in the face anymore.

Now, he’s the diminutive spark plug who’s helped light a fire under the Bronx Bombers with his home run prowess and signature bat drops.

At the time Brian Cashman pulled the trigger on a trade for Odor, it felt like a student waking up at 6 AM on the day a big project is due trying to fashion a diorama out of leftover items in the bathroom trash. Wasn’t the roster already complete? Why did Cashman sacrifice three assets in total for the 27-year-old Odor, who was in DFA hell after being cut loose by the Rangers?

Just a few weeks later, it all makes sense. Odor’s gotten hit bat going. He’s gotten his swagger back. And he’s more valuable than Tyler Wade even when he’s sleepwalking.

Or, as reliever Darren O’Day put it prior to Saturday’s game (another hard-fought win against Shane Bieber, in which another Odor homer broke the tie in the fifth for the winning run), the second baseman’s toughness is definitely rubbing off.

And no, O’Day did not forget Odor’s most famous moment.

Yankees second baseman Rougned Odor is a lot more than just the guy who punched Jose Bautista in the face.

At the time of impact, O’Day was in the Baltimore Orioles bullpen, but he had played for the Texas Rangers’ AL Championship teams in 2010-11, so he knows a little something about that culture and how the punch reverberated.

Slice it any way you want to. Nobody wants to go to war against the 27-year-old who’s not afraid to coldcock his enemy on the diamond.

After a difficult home stand both at the plate and in the field — and one in which Odor did very little to assuage concerns against the Tampa Bay Rays — this Yankees team has brought an entirely different attitude on the road to Cleveland.

They trailed in the first inning of each of the first two games 3-0, but punched (sorry) back both times, with a two-run Odor shot evening up the second contest. In the third, it was Odor’s dinger off Cy Young winner Shane Bieber that stood as the difference.

All across the baseball spectrum, people are certainly noticing the battle is back, from 2013 Red Sox champion Will Middlebrooks to retired Yankees catcher (and future coach?) Erik Kratz.

The Bombers still aren’t sitting where they want to be, but it’s at least possible that Odor’s addition could help awaken a supposed sleeping giant after a drowsy April, much like…Nick Swisher did back in 2009.

Regardless of record, just keep punching.