Austin Romine is in his first full season behind the plate for the Yankees.
The highly-touted prospect has done a fine job this season, as he is hitting .264 with three home runs 17 RBI, nine doubles, and a .434 slugging percentage in 37 games. In addition to catching, he has spent time at first base.
Romine was in action on Sunday night, as he caught Masahiro Tanaka’s gem that ignited this four-game winning streak.
New York Sports Day caught up with Romine on such topics as working with Brian McCann, their star-studded bullpen, and what it’s like catching Aroldis Chapman.
How’s your first full year in the majors going?
It’s going good, man. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, carrying my weight, just trying to contribute when I can. I only get to catch every four days, but I get to be behind an All-Star (Brian McCann), learned a lot this year.
What’s it like working with Brian McCann?
Brian’s the man! Good teammate, a good person, always in a good mood, always ready to work, fierce competitor, very smart catcher, knows how to call a game. He’s been gracious enough to allow me to ask some questions and stuff. It’s a good learning process.
What was Tanaka like Sunday night? Obviously, that game changed things around here a bit
It was a big game, he’s that kind of pitcher. He’s going to get through those tough innings. He’s the guy and we have a lot of faith in him. He went out there and pitched his ass off, and he got us rolling.
Who in the rotation has impressed you this season, in terms of their growth as a pitcher?
(Nathan) Eovaldi. He’s constantly figuring out who he is and what to do. He’s pitching well and he had a good one last night too. I know he had a struggle there in that one inning, but with our ‘pen, we only need five or six (innings) from our starter. He’s made some strides.
Chasen Shreve came back – He went down, worked on some stuff, came back, looks good. (Anthony) Swarzak pitched amazing last night, he’s been a good guy for us. He keeps coming through before the Big Three (Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman) come in. Now you see guys getting chances and doing well.
Are the guys in the bullpen finding their roles more defined the more they are here?
The roles are hard to come by. Whatever you can get, you do. When you’re in the game, you have to do well.
What’s it like catching Chapman?
It’s very difficult, it’s coming in pretty fast. The thing with him is it’s not straight. It’s moving, it’s difficult to catch. You gotta be ready every single pitch because it’s dangerous and you gotta be ready.
Have you ever been crossed-up catching Chapman?
No, thank God. I don’t even want to begin to imagine to think what that would be like.
That has to be a fear no matter who’s on the mound, but with Chapman, it’s heightened.
If I was ever in doubt, I’d probably call time. Fastball’s 105, change-up’s 93, just handle him, be a good defensive catcher, be ready.
Have you been more at ease being with the Yankees all year and not going back-and-forth from New York to Scranton?
Yeah, a little more at ease with how I’m producing. Being able to play every four days is hard, hitting major-league pitching. I found a system that works for me, a way to succeed.
You played some at first base
I played some there, also at Triple-A. It’s fun, you get to wear a hat, look like an athlete. It’s fun to be on the other side of the pitcher.
Is it a natural for a catcher to double as a first baseman?
Yes. No. I find it pretty normal for me over there. I wasn’t playing out of my element or anything like that. There’s no similarities to catching, but maybe when catching balls in the dirt, might be better back-handing some balls. Other than that, it’s a tough position, gotta shift your muscles, your legs, you gotta be ready, run to the base, now with shifts.
There was that shift the other day when Boston had Hanley Ramirez playing at basically second base when A-Rod was up. What did you think of that?
He sprinted to first! It is what it is, but the numbers speak for themselves.
Rob Refnsyder’s taken well to playing first base. What have you thought of the job he’s done there?
Refsnyder’s the man, moving from second base to first base, it’s completely different. His work ethic, he’s out there every day taking ground balls, he’s worked hard at it. He grinds it out, he’s a very good defender. He keeps working hard and I’m happy for him.
You a big social media guy?
I’m actually not a big media guy. It can only be bad for me, I’m not promoting a charity or anything like that, so no reason to go on there. I’ll stick to what I know, baseball