Yastrzemski on hand to watch grandson play Sox

Yastrzemski on hand to watch grandson play Sox
March 2, 2014, 12:45 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- An otherwise ordinary spring training game Sunday will be livened up by the presence of two generations of Yastrzemskis.
      
Carl, the Hall of Famer, is on hand to watch his grandson, Mike, an outfielder with the visiting Baltimore Orioles.
      
The younger Yastrzemski, drafted out of Vanderbilt last summer by the Orioles, is in his first spring training. Baltimore manager Buck Showalter, short on outfielders for a road trip and aware of the circumstances, added Yastrzemski to the travel roster.
      
Yasztrzemski isn't in the starting lineup, but is expected to get an at-bat at some point.
      
"It means a lot," said the eldder Yastrzemski on the prospect of watching his grandson in a pro game. "Just proves that a lot of hard work will take you a long way. He's worked hard all his life. He wanted to be a player and he took the effort and time into it."
      
"It would be great," agreed Mike. "First time being at a big league camp, it'd be real special. It's great to be able to be in front of him and have him
around."
      
Mike described his relationship with Carl as a "normal grandfather-grandson relationship. We talk about about a lot of stuff -- baseball, fishing, golf."
      
In high school, as Mike blossomed into a prospect, Carl began working with him on Sundays, taking him a friend's batting cage and offering his input.
      
"Sometimes, I was a little too intense," recalled Carl. "But I've learned to mellow out. I never really started working with until he was a freshman or  sophomore in high school. When he was growing up, Little League, stuff like that, (it was more like), 'Go out, swing the bat and have fun.'
      
When asked if his grandson, a 5-11 outfielder who bats and throws left, copied his stance, the elder Yastrzesmki smiled.
      
"A little bit," he said sheepishly. "Except he lets go of the bat; I didn't. We were talking about that a little while ago. I said, 'Make sure you hold on;  don't let go too early. I told him to even take a couple of swings with two hands on the bat."
      
Mike Yastrzemski was drafted by the Red Sox out of high school, but chose the college route. It proved to be the right move as he graduated with a degree and made All-SEC honors.
      
"My thought at the time," said Mike, "was that college was the right decision for me and I'm happy where I am right now and I still get to play at the Red Sox' spring training (facility)."
      
Sharing the last name with a baseball legend can be a blessing or a curse. Had he signed with the Sox, the shadow of his grandfather would have been considerable.
      
"At the time, yes (I thought that)," admitted Mike. "But as I've grown up and gone through more baseball, I realize I don't get treated any differently. Everyone looks at you as a baseball player rather than the name. All the coaches look at me the same as any player. They don't take the name into (account) -- if you can't play, you're not going to get the chance. If you're performing, you're going to get out there."
      
His grandfather, though, believes otherwise and seems almost relieved that Mike didn't sign with Boston.
      
"Without any doubt," said Carl. "If he had signed with the Red Sox, there would have been too much pressure on him. He likes the Baltimore organization  so he's very happy over there."
      
This season, Mike will play Single A ball. His famous grandfather was asked about his grandson's chances of reaching the big leagues.      

He weighed his answer carefully.
      
"I think he has a shot," said Carl Yastrzemski, "because he has the desire and determination. That can take you a long way. He's always worked hard and you can't rule out that out."

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