Entering a new season, whether they say it in public or not, every ballplayer has goals. Some want to hit a certain amount of home runs, others hope to make the Opening Day roster while everyone wants to stay healthy.
Utility man Tyler Wade's aspirations for 2021 are simple: provide depth by filling in for his teammates and win a World Series.
"I just think it's been the same every single year," Wade said in a Zoom call on Sunday. "Slide in whenever guys need days off, whether it's Gleyber [Torres], DJ [LeMahieu], Gio [Urshela], [Aaron] Judge, wherever it may be, I'm ready for that. I feel like I'm as confident as I've ever been. My mind's there. Physically I've always been there. I'm just ready to win a World Series."
Wade is entering his fifth season in pinstripes, gradually increasing the amount of games that he's played in each year along the way. The 26-year-old projects to occupy one of the spots on the Yankees' bench at the beginning of this season.
Last year, the utility man played in 52 games. Only Aaron Hicks and Luke Voit played in more contests. That's because the speedster is an asset on the bases and has the ability to play every position other than catcher and first base.
Where Wade has struggled to earn playing time, however, is his performance at the plate. It helps that he's a left-handed bat on a righty-heavy roster, but he's a career .190 hitter. Last season, Wade hit .170/.288/.307 with 22 strikeouts in 105 plate appearances.
Asked what he worked on over the offseason to improve ahead of the regular season, Wade said he hopes to be more consistent.
"Defense, offense, base running, everything," he said. "Just improving on being consistent each and every day. And that's about it, just going hard."
Considering Wade can play shortstop, he has a direct path to starting the year with the big-league club. Other utility men are vying for roster spots—like Miguel Andújar, Derek Dietrich and even slugger Jay Bruce—but unless Yankees manager Aaron Boone wants to use Urshela at shortstop (or call upon the versatile Thairo Estrada), then nobody would be available to serve as Torres' backup.
If Wade can be more consistent at the plate in 2021, he could be invaluable for this club. Either way, look for him to fill in on the defensive side late in games and make a slew of pinch-running appearances as well.
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