TAMPA — Mike Ford is aware of the players the Yankees brought into camp on minor league deals, including established veterans such as Jay Bruce and Derek Dietrich — both lefty swingers who can play first base, just like Ford.
“I always try to perform, especially when I’ve got a little chip on my shoulder,’’ Ford said Wednesday. “There’s great competition here with a lot of experience. Who knows where the chips are gonna fall?”
Bruce, who had made a running catch in left field already this spring, looked sharp at first base in Wednesday’s 4-1, seven-inning win over the Blue Jays. He also added two hits, including a double.
Dietrich, who played third base on Wednesday, also hit his first homer of the spring.
Ford, who roped a double on Tuesday against the Orioles in Sarasota, Fla., said on Wednesday, “it was a great feeling,” especially following a rough 2020, when he had just 10 hits in 74 at-bats and his OPS plummeted to .496 after a .909 mark the previous season.
“I haven’t lost any confidence hitting,’’ Ford said. “You learn from it and move past it. 2021 is a new year and hopefully it gets better.”
The double, Ford hopes, is a sign of things to come after he dropped weight during the offseason. He said he’s in “the best shape in a very long time.”
“I don’t think I’d had a hit in probably five months,’’ Ford said. “It was a good feeling to get that one out of the way.”
Darren O’Day, with his sidearm delivery, threw live batting practice on Tuesday at the Yankees minor league complex, immediately after batters had faced Aroldis Chapman.
O’Day noted that Chapman will be throwing 100 mph during the season, while he tops out at 85.
“You can’t really quantify deception, but it’s a valuable tool to have,’’ O’Day said. “To have different looks.”
It’s one reason O’Day believes this bullpen will be effective.
“Just messing with the hitters’ timing [is important],’’ O’Day said. “The more we can do to disrupt that timing, the more outs we’re going to get.”
The right-hander is ready to contribute in various roles, much like he said he was used by Buck Showalter in Baltimore.
O’Day pointed to Showalter using his relievers to get “four, five six outs a night.”
“We had a great relationship,’’ O’Day said. “I really enjoyed playing for him, especially the early years in Baltimore when the team was pretty much the doormat of the league for a long time. We kind of brought the nice baseball tradition back there.”
O’Day noted Showalter was “a really, really good bullpen manager. The longer I’ve been in the league, the more I appreciate that. You know Buck, he had some credit built up with the league, so he kind of managed the way he wanted to and it wasn’t necessarily, ‘Well this guy has to match with this guy.’ It was just, ‘I’m going to have my guy get five outs tonight and then he’s going to have tomorrow off and pitch the next day.’ So Buck was great. I loved learning from him.’’
Brett Gardner, who signed shortly before camp opened, started in left field in his spring opener and walked in his first plate appearance.
The Blue Jays wanted to get their pitchers more work, so the teams played the bottom of the seventh, even though the Yankees were ahead.