Yankees’ Thairo Estrada taking advantage of ‘second chance at life’
Rookie infielder Thairo Estrada has impressed the Yankees with his talent and overall calmness in his approach to the game, no matter what type of position he is put in on the field.
The lifelong infielder even played the outfield on the 6-3 road trip. He also picked up his first major league hit along the way and has six hits in his first 18 at-bats in the big leagues.
After what Estrada has been through, being shot in the right thigh in Venezuela during a robbery attempt in late January 2018, he is making the most of every opportunity.
Nothing seems to overwhelm him, which is a wonderful trait for a young player.
This past week, Giants draft pick Corey Ballentine was shot in Topeka, Kan., and his good friend Dwane Simmons was killed.
Ballentine sustained a gunshot wound to his buttocks and has been released from the hospital. He planned to come here Thursday night for the start of the rookie indoctrination, but the Giants advised him to stay home for now.
Estrada was not aware of the Ballentine shooting until he was told of it by The Post on Wednesday in Phoenix. Estrada remembered watching the NFL draft with some of his Yankees teammates and was stunned to hear the news.
While not speaking directly about the Ballentine shooting, Estrada offered some insightful comments on his own incident and how he has worked even harder to become a success after such a terrible thing happened to him.
Baseball is all about overcoming adversity, but this was something much different than what a player encounters on the field.
What kept Estrada going through those difficult times?
“When you go through something like that,’’ Estrada told The Post through a translator, “the first thing is you want to be thankful for is being alive. It’s a dangerous situation, so this is kind of like a second chance at life that you get. That’s how I looked at it, a second chance.
“Once you understand that, you have to believe in yourself.’’
Those are some powerful words from a 23-year-old.
The key is belief. When you survive such a dangerous incident — Estrada’s wife was also with him and she was not harmed — you come to realize a deeper meaning and purpose to your life.
“You have to believe in your talent as an athlete, and you’ve got to focus and understand that the recovery will be long,’’ Estrada said, “but if you focus on it you can get through it and definitely come back and be effective as a player.’’
Once third baseman Miguel Andujar returns, Estrada could find himself back at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but he certainly has opened eyes around the Yankees and baseball with his all-around ability. In his first four games with a plate appearance, he reached base safely. He is hitting .333 and has shown an ability to do the little things right, like getting down a key bunt.
“A lot of it has to do with knowing the guys in this locker room,’’ Estrada said of his comfort level with the Yankees. “From the moment you walk in you see friendly faces. They set the tone and the atmosphere here and allow you to relax and play the game. It’s like coming home.’’
In that way, there is no added pressure for a young player — and that could be one of the reasons for the success of these Accidental Yankees, who have filled in so well for the star-studded injured Yankees.
The Yankees return home Friday night to play a three-game series against the overachieving Twins, followed by four more at home against the surprising Mariners. Then it is on to the first matchup of the year against the AL East-leading Rays at Tropicana Field.
“Going through the different levels of the organization I’ve had really excellent coaches,’’ Estrada said. “They have taken the time with me to show me and help me improve, and I focus on those teaching moments to learn and improve.’’
That all comes back to his statement about getting a second chance to excel, and to make the most of his baseball life.
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