Clean-shaven Odor makes debut for Yankees against Rays

Sports

New York Yankees’ Rougned Odor, right, hands his helmet to first base coach Reggie Willits after popping out against the Tampa Bay Rays during the second inning of a baseball game Sunday, April 11, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Rougned Odor was in the lineup for the New York Yankees for the first time Sunday, sporting a new look that includes more than a uniform change.

The clean-shaven infielder complied with his new team’s longstanding facial hair policy by getting rid of the long beard he rocked with the Texas Rangers, who traded him to the Yankees last week for minor league outfielders Antonio Cabello and Josh Stowers.

“It was weird. I feel weird,” Odor said of being beardless. “Even my daughter, she didn’t even want to look at me. It is what it is. I’m happy to be here.”

The 27-year-old cleared in-take protocol and was added to the roster Saturday. He started at second base and batted sixth in Sunday’s finale of a weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Odor, who did not make the Rangers’ opening day roster and was designated for assignment on April 1, was excited to be joining a team he said “every kid wants to grow up and play” for.

“When I found out I got traded to this team I was so happy,” he said, adding he continued to take batting practice and field ground balls after being designated for assignment.

“I always believe in myself. … I knew somebody was going to pick me up,” Odor added. “I was ready to answer the call when somebody called me.”

A left-handed hitter, Odor can lend some balance in a mostly right-handed lineup on days he plays. He was a second baseman with the Rangers, but he also played third during spring training for the first time this year.

The .237 career hitter with 146 homers and 458 RBIs in seven major league seasons has two guaranteed seasons at $12 million each remaining as part of a $49.5 million, six-year contract.

The deal includes a $13.5 million team option for 2023 with a $3 million buyout.

Texas will pay the Yankees $11,060,806 to cover all but a prorated share of the $570,500 minimum this year and all but the 2022 minimum, which is still to be negotiated, a cash amount that currently projects to $11,429,500.

Texas would pay New York an additional $3 million if the option is declined.

“I’m just going to come here and do my best to help the team win games,” Odor said.

He batted .167 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and hit .200 with two homers and five RBIs in 35 spring training at-bats for the Rangers before being designated for assignment.

The Yankees announced two roster moves before Sunday’s game. Right-handed reliever Albert Abreu was recalled from the alternate site and infielder Thairo Estrada was traded to the San Francisco Giants for cash.

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