The 2022 Grapefruit League home run leader has arrived in the regular season.
Kyle Higashioka, after clubbing seven home runs in spring training, hit his first two that counted on Sunday as part of the Yankees’ 18-4 bashing of the Cubs in The Bronx.
“I’ve been grinding all year, trying to look for that adjustment to get back to where I know I can be,” the catcher said after playing his 35th game of the season.
Higashioka, who recorded a season-high three hits, credited fellow backstop Jose Trevino for pointing out something in his swing after flying out in his first at-bat.
“He noticed something in my swing that he thought — I don’t want to get too specific — but he thought I was not really being aggressive enough with my lower half,” said Higashioka, who has lost some playing time to the red-hot Trevino of late. “As soon as I fixed that, that seemed to be the ticket. … For some reason, it just clicked everything into place. So gotta give credit to my man Trevy.”
As he rounded third on his first home run trot, Higashioka pointed to the dugout at Trevino, who was in the original lineup before being scratched with a back issue.
Then when he got to the dugout, Higashioka was met with the silent treatment from his teammates, which he expected because it had been so long since his last homer (Sept. 11, 2021).
“Good to see him really get into one,” manager Aaron Boone said. “We know he’s capable of that. It’s a long season and we’ll see some more of that.”
Higashioka capped off his big day in the eighth inning, when he faced Cubs first baseman Frank Schwindel and drilled a 35.1 mph pitch into the left-field seats.
“That was pretty funny,” he said.
Right-hander Jameson Taillon was happy for his batterymate, who is hitting .172 with a .505 OPS.
“It was nice, especially [when] you know it’s in there after the spring that he had,” Taillon said. “He’s been battling. He’s been doing a great job at catching still. He doesn’t let the at-bats carry over to catching and game calling and working with his pitchers. Everyone was extremely happy for him, I know that.”