Until the last 24 hours or so, it seemed like an inevitability Tyler Wade would make the Yankees' Opening Day roster.
But then the team acquired Mike Tauchman from the Rockies on Saturday and optioned Wade to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday. Speaking after New York's 5-3 Grapefruit League victory over Minnesota, the 24-year-old expressed disappointment in the decision.
"It blindsided me," he told reporters, adding, "I was not expecting this. I was excited to get to New York."
Wade didn't do much during an abbreviated opportunity (36 games) with the big club last season, but has begun 2019 on the right foot with a solid showing during Spring Training. After Sunday's game, Wade owned a .320/.358/.520 slash line with seven doubles, three RBI and three stolen bases.
"Just the way I performed this spring, I did everything they asked me to do," he said. "I played well."
The Yankees apparently told Wade to get his bat in order entering this season. Even though he's shown serious signs of a turnaround in the box, he feels the Yankees moved the goalposts on him to justify the move.
"I just wanted to break with the team and I thought my performance offensively and defensively showed that," he said. "No one's ever had a problem with my defense. It's always been my bat and I got my bat figured out. I'd made all those adjustments. That's all I got."
"I made the adjustments offensively, and now it's my defense that's not good enough. I wouldn't use the word 'unfair,' I'm just disappointed. I did everything I possibly can do to show I belong in the big leagues to help this team. I just know I'm able to play outfield. I've done this for three years now, so if that's the issue I don't know what the problem is."
Wade is normally an infielder, but with a crowded depth situation began seeing time in the outfield, especially in center after Aaron Hicks' injury created an opening there.
But the Yankees have opted to go with the newcomer, leaving Wade feeling spurned in the process.
"These things remain fluid and can be temporary," manager Aaron Boone told reporters earlier Sunday, "but the bottom line is he's put himself in a good position to be here and I feel like he will impact our club this season."