Lyle Overbay debuts after a crazy Spring Training
To paraphrase a famous statement: What a difference a week makes.
Overbay was released by Boston last Tuesday and immediately picked up by the Yankees, heading to Tampa for what both he and GM Brian Cashman termed a "three-day tryout." He made the grade, a status that was preliminarily confirmed when the Yankees released Juan Rivera last Thursday, and made official on Sunday when the team added Overbay to the 40-man roster to be the primary first baseman in Mark Teixeira's absence.
"It's been a whirlwind week, but it's been very good," Overbay said after Monday's game, an 8-2 Yankees loss to the Red Sox. "Things didn't work out with Boston and I got a three-day tryout here, thinking what kind of chance would I have? But they've seen me over the years and I'm here now, so I'm excited. This is top of the line, a class organization, and I've never experienced anything like this."
That whirlwind week actually ended with Overbay being a little tardy for his first official day on the job, as he was plagued by what he facetiously called "new guy problems" while trying to enter Yankee Stadium Monday morning.
"I tried to walk in through Gate 6, but they wouldn't let me; for Opening Day, they said you needed a blue pass or something that I didn't have to get in there," Overbay said. "I haven't gotten my team-issued ID yet, and I tried to show them last year's." So, instead of coming in through the normal entrance, Overbay had to walk through the press gate on the other side of the Stadium - but he made it in on time and was able to laugh about it hours later.
"(The guard) was just doing his job, so I can't be mad," Overbay laughed. "They called and got it straightened out. I know the Red Sox had some guys coming through there too, so that could've been weird, but it's all good."
Overbay did not start Monday's game, with Kevin Youkilis starting at first base and Jayson Nix getting the call at third against lefty Jon Lester, so he was able to soak in his first official taste of the Yankees experience.
"Putting on the pinstripes this morning…that was big, and I'm starting to begin figuring out why everyone wants to come here," Overbay said. "You get the tradition and the history right on the get go, but to see the big guys around here and how they go about their business, you want to be a part of that. I've always watched these guys from afar and enjoyed what they've done."
The 36-year-old slugger did enter the game in the sixth inning, pinch hitting for Nix and staying in to play first base. He went 0-for-2 on the day, but his second at-bat saw him hit what appeared to be a hard fly ball that Boston right fielder Shane Victorino had to chase down on the warning track - but as Overbay himself admitted, looks can be deceiving.
"I hit that ball off the end of the bat, and I kind of missed it - I got some good wind I guess," Overbay said. "I'm actually kind of surprised at how far it went, because I didn't get it very good."
As a left-handed hitter, Overbay will likely get many tastes of the wind blowing out to the short porch in right field, but he knows that he can't focus solely on swinging for the seats that are just 314 feet away.
"(The short porch) is enticing, but I have to make sure I don't get overzealous or try for it too much," Overbay said. "My game is a little different, I like to hit it to left and center too, so I want to make sure I don't get out of my game too much."
And even though his debut came in a loss, one to the team he was with just a week ago even, Overbay's 13th Opening Day was an experience he'll never forget.
"You just kind of jump into the (Yankees-Red Sox) rivalry, and it's exciting; I would've liked to have come out with a win, but it's one game and we still have a chance to win the series," he said. "Still, it was awesome. It's an honor to be part of this group, and hopefully it'll continue."
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES