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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 8/21/21

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Velazquez’s journey to the Yankees; Germán suffers setback; Voit ready to do whatever’s necessary; Cortes’ secret to success; Yankees interested in alternate jersey.

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The New York Times | Gary Phillips: Andrew Velazquez’s storybook journey from a Bronx kid to a New York Yankee is one of the most talked about topics in Yankeeland. Not only is he living out his dream playing for his hometown team, he is contributing to their winning ways. He has come through with several clutch run-scoring hits, has stolen bases in big spots, and has made highlight-reel, game-saving plays with the glove.

It was not an easy journey to this point. He bounced around minor league systems in Arizona, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, and Baltimore before landing in New York. And the success that propelled him to a big league call-up this year and sustained production in the majors didn’t come by chance. He made several mechanical adjustments and refined his approach while with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and has reaped the rewards. His job may be in jeopardy as the regulars return from injury, but for now he’s happy his efforts have been instrumental in wins.

SNY | Coby Green: Manager Aaron Boone provided an injury update and the news is mixed. Unfortunately, it appears Domingo Germán has suffered a setback. He has been working his way back after landing on the IL on July 31st with shoulder inflammation, and felt some soreness in the shoulder following a recent rehab assignment. Boone says they do not have a timetable for the next time he will begin throwing. This is a blow for the Yankees as they’ve had to deal with absences from the starting rotation all season.

In better news, Gleyber Torres has started swinging a bat again. He has been out since August 8th with a sprained thumb after injuring it sliding into second base in a game against the Mariners. The Yankees will be glad to have their shortstop back, though Velazquez has deputized quite effectively in Torres’ absence. Finally, for those wondering why Anthony Rizzo was on the bench in last night’s game, Friday was a scheduled rest day as the team eases him back following his stint on the COVID-19 IL.

New York Daily News | Kristie Ackert: Luke Voit has not been shy voicing his thoughts on the Yankees’ first base situation now that Rizzo is back with the team. Since making his initial comments, he has had some time for reflection. He sticks by the sentiments shared, but also offered further perspective on the matter.

Voit pointed out his track record with the Yankees since joining in 2018 and rightfully notes the contributions he has made and can continue to make to the team. He also revealed the culprits behind his early struggles after starting the year on the IL following surgery on his knee. He admits that he felt unstable landing on the surgically-repaired leg and had to build belief that it was fully healed. Additionally, he felt he was pressing and getting into some bad habits after he returned, as if trying to make up for lost time. Ultimately, Voit ensured he is willing to do anything — be that first base, DH’ing, or pinch-hitting — to help the team win (though the Yankees just might have a solution that satisfies all parties).

NorthJersey.com | Robert Aitken Jr.: Nestor Cortes Jr. turned in another brilliant performance against the Twins last night. It’s just another quality outing added to his run of sustained success in the rotation that has buoyed the club during their winning stretch. Entering last night’s game, his 2.55 ERA was tops in the Yankees’ rotation.

So what has Cortes found that has unlocked this version of Nasty Nestor? Aaron Boone feels he has become a more advanced pitcher from a command and stuff perspective. Gerrit Cole added that Cortes owns a deep understanding of who he is as a pitcher and what makes him successful. He has a keen feel for the best moments in the game to change his timing or arm angle, and possesses the athleticism necessary to pull it off.

ESPN | Joon Lee: MLB’s City Connect uniforms could be coming to the Yankees. While the team was initially hesitant to opt into the program — no surprise given their until-recently conservative approach to jersey changes — they now are said to be aggressively pursuing an alternate uniform under the program.

The City Connect uniforms represent MLB’s latest foray into the streetwear and fashion industry — a move foreshadowed when the league entered an exclusive partnership with Nike as the official uniform provider, Swoosh logo and all. Jersey sales have wildly out-performed expectations, which has brought new teams calling. The City Connect program also represents an effort to grow the game. The uniforms tap into regional identity as well as appeal to the younger generation and their greater appreciation for individual expression.