ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — An 11-year MLB veteran, Matt Carpenter arrived at the Yankees clubhouse Thursday afternoon and told manager Aaron Boone he was ready to help if needed.
“If you want me to load the bags on the plane, that’s what I’ll do,” Carpenter said.
Instead, just hours after the Yankees announced they had signed him to a major league contract and added him to the active roster, Carpenter was a late addition to the starting roster at DH after Aaron Hicks was scratched with a strained right hamstring.
Carpenter, 36, who requested a release from his minor league contract with the Rangers last week, reached base twice and scored two runs in the 7-2 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field.
“It was pretty crazy,” said Carpenter, who saw 25 pitches in four plate appearances, get hit by a pitch and walk. “To get here and be in the lineup straight away – I don’t think I landed until 3:20, so it was quick, but it was a lot of fun. Huge win. It was good to be a part of it , pretty cool.
With the Yankees struggling with health issues – DJ LeMahieu (wrist) was out of training for a third straight game on Thursday, Josh Donaldson remained on COVID IL and Giancarlo Stanton (ankle) went on the 10-day IL Wednesday – Carpenter’s addition offers a left-handed bat off the bench. Aaron Boone, who called Carpenter a “catalyst” in Thursday’s victory, said the former Cardinal could also see time at first and third base.
“I’m excited to put on a Yankees uniform and be on the best team in baseball right now,” Carpenter said before the game. “I’m just excited to be here, whatever that role is.”
Boone said the Yankees had Carpenter on their radar for the past few months and then pursued him when he opted out of his minor league contract with the Rangers.
After hitting .169 with a .581 OPS in 130 games with the Cardinals last season, Carpenter spent the offseason revamping his swing and was batting .275 with a .991 OPS at Triple-A this year.
“My swing was as good as it has been in years,” Carpenter said. “I was able to do a lot of good work in the offseason and see it translate. Obviously it’s a Triple-A pitch, but with what I was able to feel and the things I was able to make click for me, I was really encouraged by that. That kind of leads to what happened here. I’m really glad this opportunity has presented itself.
LeMahieu, the former Rockie who has faced Carpenter extensively over the years in the National League, said he was looking forward to getting to know the three-time All-Star.
“A guy who has a lot of really good sticks,” LeMahieu said. “He has pop, get on base. Guys I texted in St. Louis that I know spoke highly of him.