Flores joins Yankees in Oakland, making Major League debut
The Yankees took note of Ramon Flores’ potential this spring, impressed by a fluid left-handed stroke that seemed to send the ball a long way with ease. Those good impressions helped promote the rookie to a big league clubhouse for the first time on Saturday.
Flores was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace Slade Heathcott, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a Grade 2 strain of his right quadriceps. Flores immediately appeared in the Yanks’ lineup on Saturday against the A’s, batting seventh and playing left field.
“I’m feel I’m still dreaming,” Flores said. “Maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up and say, ‘Oh, I’m here in the Major Leagues!’ It’s been seven years in the Minors, working very hard to get here.”
The 23-year-old Flores, a product of Venezuela, had been on a recent tear with the RailRiders, going 15-for-44 (.341) in his last 11 games there. Overall, Flores was batting .294 (47-for-160) with four homers and 15 RBIs in 42 games.
“I think his ceiling is pretty high, offensively and defensively,” manager Joe Girardi said. “You can move him around a little bit defensively, but I’ll probably focus on left mostly. Just to give us good at-bats, I think that’s the important thing, and I really believe he has the ability to do that.”
With Flores slotted in left field, Girardi shifted Brett Gardner to center field, where he is expected to play while Jacoby Ellsbury mends a sprained right knee. Chris Young could also see reps in center field.
“I feel comfortable in center. I feel more comfortable there than I do in left field,” Gardner said. “I’ve obviously played left field every day and I’m becoming more comfortable over there, but I feel perfectly normal going back to center field.”
Flores said that he was in the middle of batting practice with the RailRiders when he was informed of his call-up. After spending the night in a Philadelphia hotel, Flores flew direct to the West Coast on Saturday morning, getting to the Coliseum around 11:30 a.m. PT.
With 23 walks against 28 strikeouts at Triple-A this year, Flores said that his plate discipline could help him to succeed against big league pitching.
“What I like to do at home plate is look for a very good pitch to try to connect,” Flores said. “I think that’s what helped distinguish me in the Minor Leagues, because I have a lot of patience and I try to wait for the right pitch. I just try to enjoy the game.”