Acquired from the Phillies in a mid-August trade, Addison Russ talks to Pinstripe Alley about a variety of topics that will be published in two parts. Here is part one:
Dan Kelly - You are at the alternate site, what is the day-to-day like there?
Addison Russ - It’s pretty basic in a way, about as basic as you can get with the season that we have. We still play games and get our work in on the mound. Hitters are hitting every day, basically it’s like a glorified practice like you would have before a game. As far as like BP, fly balls, ground balls, throwing, and then with a little inter squad game type action at the end of the day. It’s get guys the work in that they need to stay ready.
DK - You have a unique perspective of coming over from another site, was it the same type of thing at the Phillies site?
AR - ... I feel like there are a few more guys at Philly, so it’s a little easier to maneuver a full game type situation. Yeah it was the same thing, getting your work in that you need to stay ready for the season.
DK - The Yankees in the last few weeks have had some of their higher profile players such as Stanton, Judge and Urshela rotating through Scranton. When you get the chance to face them in the live pitching scenarios, what is your approach when you know that all the coaches and everybody in the front office is going to be watching that day’s at-bats.
AR - I definitely feel like it’s an opportunity, especially when it’s guys like Gio Urshela, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, whenever they are down here hitting. On top of getting to face them, you can pick their brain afterwards and ask them if they saw something in your mechanics or if you are tipping something. They are some of the best hitters in baseball, so anything you can talk to them about to try and help improve your game is definitely going to benefit you.
DK - When you got traded how did that go down? What kind of emotions where you feeling when you got the news that you were moving on from the organization that drafted you?
AR - It was different, I don’t know… it’s hard to explain the feeling because I really at first didn’t know how to feel. I’d been with Philly like you said, since the draft, so it’s the guys I’ve been around my whole professional career. But then after talking with my agent and my wife about it some more, we kind of figured that it was a good thing, there is a reason it is happening. So you know we were very excited, especially my wife and I definitely talked about how we should feel and how we should view it and move forward, and ultimately we came to the conclusion that it is going to be beneficial.
DK - You have had a beard going back to college, were you immediately aware of the Yankees policy on facial hair or was that something that came up once you arrived?
AR - So actually, I completely forgot about that, so Josh Bonifay called me that morning to tell me that I’d been traded. I immediately called my wife afterwards and we talked, and I told her everything that was going on. Then I got on the phone with Matt [Gaeta, Russ’s agent] and we talked, I got a text from my wife while we were on the phone say that “you have to shave your beard” I was like oh, man, I completely forgot, so I enjoyed those last few hours with my beard and shaved once I got to Scranton.
DK - Did you know any of the coaches or players at the Yankees facilities when you got there?
AR - I didn’t know any of the coaching staff that was all new for me. I played against (Kyle) Holder... just coming up through the minor leagues, so he was probably the only guy here that I came across previously.
DK - What was your perspective as the news related to COVID-19 was getting worse and worse everyday? Did you get to a point where you were anticipating a shutdown or was it just kind of surreal when it happened?
AR - So, we were in Port Charlotte, FL playing Tampa Bay when we got the news, and we actually got the news from the fans. That was interesting playing in the middle of the game and hearing that our spring training just got canceled. So it was kind of surreal, you didn’t want to believe that it had gotten as bad as it had got... you stayed hopeful because that is all that you could do...
DK - Usually in a baseball season you are playing games every night or day then traveling. What is it like to come home for an evening and sit down?
AR - It’s definitely slower paced compared to a season. I mean usually in a normal season you are at the stadium all day, and you are not leaving the ball park until 12-1 o’clock at night just depending on where you are at, and if you are getting on a bus and driving to the next city. Here you are done early, late afternoon and you just have a lot of time to yourself. I’ve watched a lot of Netflix, I finished Lucifer, it’s the most recent thing I’ve watched and I watch a lot of Food Network. That is basically my nights while I’m talking to my wife on Facetime.
We’ll have more of this interview with Addison Russ coming tomorrow. Please check back as we discuss his path through college and the outing that landed him on draft boards, as well as some of his key coaches and mentors.