Adam Warren proud to be a power bullpen's jack of all trades
TAMPA -- This spring, versatility and depth have been two of Yankees manager Aaron Boone's buzzwords; per the skipper, the former allows a team to exploit matchups and ride hot hands, among other benefits, while the latter helps keep that going if a part needs to be interchanged.
That's true on a pitching staff, too, and in the midst of a rotation full of aces and a bullpen full of power arms and proven closers, there's one man who best fits the bill: Adam Warren, who has filled any and every role the Yankees have asked him to step into over his five seasons in pinstripes.
"I take a lot of pride in that. I think a lot of my value as a reliever comes from it," Warren said. "I can come in in the first inning if the starter's in trouble, or I can go through extra innings; I can get one out or go a few innings, and I love that -- I love being the guy that can always have a different role, depending on the night and the situation."
Given former starter Chad Green's emergence as a multi-inning fireman last year, the Yankees might have two jacks-of-all-trades, albeit two with completely different pedigrees. That, though, along with the interchangeability of the power arms, just adds to the dynamic in Warren's mind.
"I think having those kinds of guys that you can use in all different situations is really important for a team," Warren said, "and we're unique in that everybody's a little bit different, but you can trust so many guys to pitch in important situations."
The Yankees proved that in the Wild Card Game, getting 8 2/3 innings of one-run relief from Green, David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle and Aroldis Chapman, and they prove it on nights where Warren or Dellin Betances come in anywhere from the fifth to the ninth.
And in Warren's mind, even if those roles were reversed, the success would be the same.
"The best part of last year was that you didn't feel like you had to do too much every night. If you were a little sore, uh, from pitching the night before, you could have the night off because you have five or six other guys that can fulfill the same roles," Warren said. "We're all different in a way, but like I said, you can trust anyone in any role, and that's one of the strengths of our team."
As much credit as the pitchers themselves get for that, though, Warren makes sure that Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine get some of the credit for making the dynamic work.
"Having a catcher that cares about your success and the team's success, and gets just as upset when runs are given up as we are…that's what you love to see, and we have two guys like that," Warren said. "I've known Ro for years, but it took Gary and I a couple months to get on the same page -- I shook him off a lot at the beginning, but once he started to learn how I like to pitch, and I saw how he puts together game plans and calls games, we got in sync, and it makes it so much more comfortable."
Oh, and don't forget pitching coach Larry Rothschild, too, and bullpen coach Mike Harkey, who are back in their same roles from 2017 despite a managerial change.
"I love Larry and Hark, because they care so much but also want you to do your own thing in a way," Warren said. "Obviously you had to be successful to get here, so they don't try to change too much. They don't want us to all be robots, they want to play to our strengths; maybe they'll tinker, or try to show us a little something different with our mechanics, but they also understand that each of us comes from a different place, so they appreciate who we are and work with us all differently. I think that's a big part of what makes us successful."
That will come in extra handy this year, because rookie skipper Aaron Boone has never had to manage a pitching staff -- or, really, any part of a baseball team. Warren is looking forward to the new regime, though, because if there is one language Boone speaks fluently, it's baseball.
"Everybody I've talked to throughout baseball, just can't say enough about what a great guy Aaron is, and how he comes from a great baseball family and knows a lot about the game," Warren said. "Everybody brings up the lack of experience, but for me, that's not an issue; not only does he have a great baseball mind, but he has a group of people surrounding him that also all have great baseball minds. There may be a learning curve, but I think he's going to pick up on it right away -- and we have such a talented roster that he can just let us play."