The New York Yankees have welcomed several fresh faces to MLB spring training in 2023, ushering in a new era centered around Anthony Volpe, Jasson Dominguez, Oswald Peraza and Austin Wells, among others.
Well, Wells has a bruised rib to recover from, because it wouldn't be a new Yankees season without an injury concern before camp even begins. But once the catcher ramps up, he'll join the next generation in picking the brains of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu, as well as those who came before him.
That's one of the perks of putting on the pinstripes, after all. Though many of the 27 World Championships are further in the rearview than we'd like to acknowledge, and the likes of Whitey, Yogi and Co. have left us, a good deal of Yankees icons love to stay in the franchise's orbit. That includes spring guest instructors like Ron Guidry, Willie Randolph and Nick Swisher -- and notably doesn't include Reggie Jackson anymore. Dammit.
Ask Volpe which player he's been looking forward to working with the most and you'll get a surprising answer: Randolph, the team's captain well before the 21-year-old Volpe was born, back in the '80s.
Anthony Volpe wants to learn from Yankees Captain ... Willie Randolph
The pairing makes sense from a macro level, but still seemed surprising at first blush.
Long before Volpe was the "local boy turned shortstop of the future," Randolph was the team's preeminent local star, selected by the Pirates out of Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn back in 1972. The pressure was likely ratcheted up on Randolph when he was dealt to the Yankees (along with Dock Ellis) in a Dec. 1975 trade for Doc Medich.
Odds are Randolph wasn't the most disoriented player heading to New York in that trade, but there's no pressure quite like starring on the field you grew up neighboring. Randolph thrived under the microscope, making the All-Star team as a 21-year-old defensive wizard in 1976, his first season in the Boogie Down.
Randolph finished his career as a six-time All-Star, and has moved into the mentorship space ever since, guiding the Mets to the postseason before he was unceremoniously tossed aside. That's led him back to the Yankees' Universe -- much like current third base coach Luis Rojas.
Randolph won in the Bronx as a player, earning two titles and attaining the captaincy. He won as an essential coach during the dynasty years. He's weathered too many storms to count. Now, he's there to help ease the transition from hope to prosperity. While it was surprising to hear Volpe single out his voice, the former Yankees second baseman is an ideal candidate to help him transition to the bigs.