8/24/2014 7:48 P.M. ET
Prado, McCarthy thriving in Bronx environment
Deadline acquisitions helping Bombers make postseason push
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- If there was any perception that Martin Prado was more comfortable locked into one defensive position -- he played 99 games at third base for the D-backs this season -- that notion has been dispelled since his trade to the Yankees.
Prado has played right field, second base and on Sunday started in left field for the first time since 2013 as the Yankees defeated the White Sox, 7-4, at Yankee Stadium on a three-run, 10th-inning, pinch-hit homer off the bat of old friend Brian McCann. Prado and McCann were teammates for eight seasons with the Braves.
"I don't prefer any particular position," Prado said on Sunday. "I'm not a selfish player. I'd never say that. I'd be selfish if I preferred only one."
As the Yankees reshuffled their infield and starting rotation in July, adding Prado and Brandon McCarthy in separate deals with the D-backs, Chase Headley from the Padres and Stephen Drew from the Red Sox, manager Joe Girardi was placed in the precarious position of trying to utilize all these disparate parts.
Headley has been a big upgrade at third base and McCarthy has excelled in this environment. Drew, like Prado, has played out of position, having been used for the first time in his career at second base.
Girardi said he sat down with Prado after the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline deal and told him he'd be moved around defensively a lot. To that point, Prado has yet to play even a minute at third base, where he has started 409 games in his career.
"They talked to me about that the first day before I even stepped out on the field," Prado said. "I had this experience in the past with the Braves. It's not like I haven't done it. I mean, it doesn't matter to me. I know there are a lot of players. Having me and moving me around gives the team some options. As long as we're winning games, it doesn't matter where I'm playing."
Prado is red hot, just finishing a 4-2 homestand with 10 hits in 24 at bats, five runs scored, four doubles, a homer, and seven RBIs. His two-run homer and walk-off single in the ninth contributed to Friday night's victory over the White Sox. It was his first walk-off hit in almost three years.
The Yankees, who are battling for an American League Wild Card spot, swept the three-game series and need help right now from anywhere they can get it. Every game seems like the playoffs.
McCarthy started the current four-game winning streak with a shutout victory over the Astros at Yankee Stadium on Thursday. McCarthy loves playing for Girardi, who he says is "constantly walking around the clubhouse taking the temperature of the players."
Though McCarthy isn't big on personal pitching wins, he said that Arizona's 4-14 record in the 18 games he started with the D-backs this season was "embarrassing."
"If the team loses the game you started, you're still responsible for that game and that reflects poorly on you," McCarthy said. "That's what I was most disappointed in, not the personal side of it. We were losing the games I was starting."
McCarthy and Prado played in Arizona together for a better part of two seasons. McCarthy left the A's and joined the D-backs as a free agent just before Prado was acquired from the Braves in the big Jan. 24, 2013, trade that sent Justin Upton to Atlanta.
This season, the right-hander was 3-10 with a 5.10 ERA for Arizona, but is now 5-2 with a 1.90 ERA in eight starts since the July 6 trade to the Yanks.
The environmental change has made a big difference to both players, he said.
"We might have put too much pressure on ourselves and tried to always do too much," McCarthy said. "When you're struggling personally and the team's struggling, you double down. It's a quick way to go backwards. You get out of there and you come to a clubhouse like this where the pressure is not on you and there's other guys people look to. It just gives you that chance to play and breathe."
Prado looks around the Yankees clubhouse, sees Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira, among others, and knows he's been part of this kind of club before. In Atlanta, Prado played for Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox and with perennial National League All-Stars McCann and Chipper Jones, another probable Hall of Famer. In contrast, the D-backs are a young team constantly being built and rebuilt around Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero and a pitching staff that has mirrored the Yankees for catastrophic injuries.
Prado was supposed to be part of that core and the D-backs signed him to a four-year, $40 million extension a week after the trade with the Braves. This year, the season was lost in April after pitchers Patrick Corbin and David Hernandez suffered elbow injuries followed by Tommy John surgery. That skewed the starting rotation and the bullpen. The injuries continued to compound from there.
Prado's contract became an albatross and the D-backs were able to move him to the Yankees, who were so desperate for offensive and infield help they assumed the final two years of the deal worth $22 million.
"Was I surprised that they traded me? No," Prado said. "This is a game and a business. I wish right now I could tell you where I'll be next year. You don't know if somebody wants you and if the team is not doing well, they make a move. When I was there, it was a pretty rough first half. They had to make a move. I was one of the guys they didn't want to trade, but they traded me."
And then Prado added pragmatically:
"This is my present. I'm not thinking about my past or my future. I'm just taking it day by day. I'm not thinking about tomorrow. I'm just happy where I am right now."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.