It took five years, but on Thursday Billy McKinney was finally back in the Bronx in pinstripes.
It was a memorable day for an outfielder with a long history of traveling. The Yankees hit a home run in a doubleheader against the White Sox, losing Game 1 6-5 and winning Game 2 3-0.
“It was a little disappointing that I never got a hit at Yankee Stadium as a home player. “Hitting a home run means a lot.”
McKinney hit a triple in the first inning and a home run in the fifth inning of the nightcap, continuing his triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre-era onslaught.
He hit White Sox starter Mike Clevinger’s high 94 mph fastball into the right-center bleachers as a home run.
“It was cool. I was pretty fired up,” he said. “I’m glad the game is over, and I’m glad I won.”
A first-round pick (24th overall) by the Athletics in 2013, McKinney was traded from the Cubs to the Yankees along with Gleyber Torres in July 2016 for Aroldis Chapman.
After making his major league debut with the Yankees in 2018, he participated in the deal that acquired JA Happ from the Blue Jays in July of the same year.
McKinney signed a minor league contract with the Yankees this offseason.
McKinney was contacted Wednesday when Aaron Judge was placed on the disabled list with a right big toe injury. Judges are clearly irreplaceable. But McKinney’s idea is simple, he says, to be more productive.
“I just want to help my team win. That’s the goal,” McKinney said. “Let’s win as many games as possible. It’s Aaron Judge, he’s the only one. Just do everything in your power to help your team win. That’s all that matters.”
Now that he has an IL judge, he will have his chance.
On day one, McKinney showed that it might be possible to fill that void somewhat.
“We got our chance and he did a great job for us today,” said manager Aaron Boone. “I thought he was hitting great plate all day. It was nice to see him hitting those kind of at-bats.”