New Yankees first baseman Luke Voit, acquired in a deadline deal with the Cardinals, takes a swing at some Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby.
Q: If you could pick the brain of one hitter in baseball history, who would it be?
A: I’ll go Babe Ruth.
Q: For obvious reasons, I guess.
A: No. To do what he did. … I watched a documentary on him about like two months ago on HBO or something like that. Just how he took over the game of baseball. He was great on the field, off the field. He was humble, and he did stuff with charities. And just how he was so good at baseball, too. The guy was like a god walking around with all his fans and stuff. To see actually what his approach was and how he hit — obviously it was a little different back then — but just what he did mentally to stay so sharp all the time.
Q: If you could test your skills against one pitcher in baseball history?
A: Randy Johnson. … Just because, when I was growing up, not only is he one of the best pitchers ever, but he was just so dominant. Not saying I’d get a hit or anything, but just to see what it’s like. And you got the whole John Kruk standing on the outside of the batter’s box, and he’s got the deceptive arm angle, and then plus he’s [6-foot-10]. I just feel like it’d be just a really weird, uncomfortable at bat, but I mean, he was one of the best ever, and to have an at-bat off that would be pretty cool.
Q: Why do you think you’ve become such a fan favorite here?
A: I think a lot of stuff gets caught up in guys not having fun anymore, just ’cause it’s so stressful and hard. Every guy it feels like is throwing 98. And I feel like the fans always want something to cheer for. … And whether that’s obviously home run, strikeout, winning a game, you can also do that many other ways, too, and I’m trying to bring that to every game with the Yankees fans, and I think they’ve kind of taken it under, especially with the “Luke” chant, which is awesome. I don’t know man. … I just be myself.
Q: How did a 2013 22nd-round pick of the Cardinals get to Yankee Stadium?
A: Hard work.
Q: You’ve had to overcome a lot.
A: Yup. High school [Lafayette High in Milwood, Mo.] I was never “the guy.” College [Missouri State] I had good accolades and stuff, but wasn’t really “the guy.” Pro ball obviously I wasn’t a high pick and always had to get past those guys, ’cause sometimes those higher picks get promoted faster just ’cause they got a bunch of money invested in ’em, which I get it, it’s a business. But I always was first one there, last one to leave. I wanted to be better than you. Obviously that’s something I have, and I gotta keep instilled throughout the rest of my career.
Q: Are you recognized riding the subway to the Stadium?
A: Sometimes. Not like going to games, it’s more like after games just ’cause people are still leaving the games and stuff. I try to stay incognito a little bit (chuckle). But I’m sure it’ll start getting more, but it hasn’t been too bad lately. I’ve taken some Ubers and stuff, too.
Q: You’re living in a hotel.
A: I feel like I’ve been living in a hotel all year, especially with road trips and going up and down with St. Louis. It kind of sucks just ’cause you don’t have a place you can go home, and I feel like I’ve been wearing the same clothes all year (chuckle). The hotel’s nice, the Yankees are taking care of me, so that’s all I can ask for.
Q: Describe your on-field mentality.
A: Fun, aggressive and intense … perfectionist. Always trying to get better.
Q: What is your mentality in the batter’s box?
A: I’m better than you, I want to beat you. But I mean that’s most hitters’ mindsets but … confidence is above and beyond, and as much as they’re gonna try to out-think me, I’ll out-think them and stay within myself at the same time.
Q: Describe Aaron Judge.
A: I’ve never seen a guy — I haven’t been playing forever — but just kind of capture a city, and not only the biggest city in the United States, and how he remains so even-keeled. You never know he’s, like, “the guy” just walking around the clubhouse.
Q: Giancarlo Stanton.
A: Gigantic! Super, super cool human being. You would never know much money he has. He’s not a me-myself-I guy, he’s a team guy. He’s always getting his work done. I feel like I never see him just ’cause he’s so busy trying to get better and working on whatever he’s gotta do. He’s got a lot of pressure on him and you would never notice it. He’s always got the same even keel all the time no matter if he’s 0-for-20 or 20-for-20. It’s pretty impressive.
Q: How would you describe the Yankee Way?
A: Go about your business the right way. Be on time. Work hard. Respect your other teammates. Show up, have fun, be yourself. Don’t be that guy that is a selfish player. Be a good teammate.
Q: Describe your leaping elbow bump with third-base coach Phil Nevin.
A: Me and him have a good relationship, and the forearm thing’s been a big thing and to get him involved with it, it’s pretty cool. He’s got other special celebration things he does with the other players, too. It’s something me and him just kind of did. I just did it and he did it, too, and it just worked (laugh).
Q: Describe Yankees fans.
A: (Chuckle) My first week here I got booed, now I’m getting “Luke” in the stands instead of boo. It kind of still sounds the same (chuckle), but I love it. It’s crazy ’cause I can’t imagine being another team coming in here, it’s crazy how supportive they are. They’ll get on you, but it’s also they want you to succeed just as much as I want myself to succeed, too, and I get it. It’s part of baseball, even though baseball is a fail sport. We’re gonna have our ups and downs throughout the year, mostly downs, that’s why we hit .300, not a thousand, right? But they’ve been great, man, and they’ll always be here no matter what, if we’re winning or losing, they always seem to show up.
Q: What is your best baseball moment so far?
A: I would say hitting my first home run as a Yankee [Aug. 24 vs. the Orioles, hitting two that day]. And then, hitting that home run off of [Fernando] Rodney in Oakland [a go-ahead blast in the eight inning of a 5-1 win Sept. 4].
Q: What was so special about that first home run as a Yankee?
A: ’Cause it’s my first home run as a Yankee, I never would have thought I was a New York Yankee, to play for the biggest powerhouse in all of Major League Baseball, I mean, one of the biggest organizations in all the world. It’s something I’ll always have on my mantel or in my man cave kind of thing.
Q: You caught with torn ligaments in your thumb at Missouri State.
A: I had my trainer tape it up, and it was killing me when he was taping it up, but I was like, “I’m fine, I’m gonna try to go back out there.” And we had a sinkerballer out there, and I tried catching one and I couldn’t even squeeze the glove. I tried to catch another one, and it hit my thumb, and it was like someone stabbed a knife into my thumb, it was terrible. I tried arguing with my coach, “Let me stay in,” just ’cause I’m super-competitive. I wanted to win, we were playing Oklahoma State, it was a big game for us, but he made the right decision, took me out, and then after the game I found out it was torn, which kind of derailed the rest of my season.
Q: Do you miss catching?
A: I do sometimes. My knees don’t. My back doesn’t either. But I think catching made me a better hitter, learning just how the game works and how certain counts are pitched and certain guys. … It’s a crazy mental side of the game that a lot of people don’t know about.
Q: What was the low point mentally for you?
A: I would probably say this year. Out of camp, I was supposed to make the team [Cardinals]. I was like the last cut, and it frustrated me, ’cause I was telling everyone pretty much that I was gonna make the team, everyone thought I was gonna make the team, I had a good spring training. They decided to go with more versatility, which I understand it. It made me not freakin’ work as hard as I should have a little bit, and then I ended up getting hurt the first like two weeks of the season, which cost me getting called up ’cause someone else got hurt. Just ticky-tack stuff and I wasn’t being myself and I just thought I was better than everyone. It was bad, and I’m glad some of my buddies called me out for it.
Q: You weren’t yourself in what way?
A: I wasn’t working hard, doing anything, I was kind of just holding a grudge over myself, just making excuses to why I didn’t, and ended up biting me.
Q: Does your nickname “Meat” fit you?
A: I’ve been called it in high school, college, now just ’cause I work out a lot. I’m a meathead, and I’m like a big hunk of meat (laugh).
A: Just like a gym rat kind of thing.
Q: How good of a middle linebacker were you in high school?
A: (Chuckle) I was pretty good. I love hitting, that was the name of the game. I just had like a key for the ball — but obviously my shoulders didn’t agree with that, so I had to stop playing.
Q: What was the biggest hit you ever delivered?
A: I knocked a guy out, it was a quarterback. It was like a pitch play, he ran out, he didn’t flip it to the running back and I was right there, and I delivered probably an illegal hit now, but I knocked him out cold.
Q: Who are athletes in other sports you admire?
A: I really like Aaron Rodgers, how he goes about everything. Just super-competitive … and he’s just so fun to watch. He always finds a way to win even if they’re losing. … LeBron James. Just how he’s kind of not just doing basketball, he’s trying to make the world a better place.
Q: You liked Mark McGwire. But you got to be a batboy for Ryan Howard.
A: Some of the home runs [Howard] hit during his career, he was doing that at 16, 17 years old. Probably one of the most impressive BP hitters I’ve ever seen in my life, and just a gigantic person. That’s who I wanted to be like. He went to my high school, he went to my college, I just kind of followed his footsteps outside of playing for the Phillies and stuff. I just wanted to be like him.
Q: What are your favorite New York City things?
A: I’d say the sushi and the oysters are really good. Always great steakhouses. … You could name 150 of ’em right now (laugh).
Q: Describe your father, Lou.
A: My dad instilled a great work ethic in me. Always provided for me to be able to get to tournaments growing up. Paid for all that stuff. Was always there for me. Get hitting lessons for me. Would take me across the country to go to different like scouting things and tournaments to get you promoted and stuff. He was always there trying to instill a good school work ethic, too, always trying to help me study and stuff to get into college I guess. Always there to talk to me after games, as much as I didn’t want to even after a bad game, he didn’t really criticize me, he’d just always want to figure out ways to get better.
Q: What drives you?
A: That’s a deep question. Just always wanting to be the best. It even goes back to me and my brother and all our buddies going in the backyard playing baseball, football, basketball. I always wanted to win. I was the guy that wanted to outwork you, outplay you and I wanted to beat you, and I knew I could do that. At the end of the day, I credit my fiancée [Tori], too, to help me there for whenever I’m down and whenever I need her she’s always there super supportive. She drives me to be a great person on and off the field. I don’t think I’d be here without her.
A: If I don’t get a hit I’ll wear different cleats. Same with my arm sleeve, if I don’t get a hit, it’ll be a different color arm sleeve.
A: Golf, fish, I’m getting into hunting now, and watching football.
Q: How are your fantasy football teams doing?
A: I’m in three leagues and I’m 1-1 in all three of them.
Q: Three dinner guests?
A: Al Capone, Mickey Mantle, Leonardo DiCaprio.
Q: Why Al Capone?
A: At one point he was one of the biggest gangsters, badasses, whatever you want to call ’em, in the world. I’m sure it’s kind of intimidating, scary for him to be in your household but … why not?
Q: Favorite movie?
A: “The Revenant.”
Q: Favorite actor?
A: The Rock.
Q: Favorite actress?
A: Jessica Biel.
Q: Favorite meal?
A: Oysters for appetizer and then steak, asparagus, potato.
Q: A message to Yankees fans about this October.
A: How many All-Stars do we have on this team, probably like 15? I don’t think any team wants to face us, especially with J.A. [Happ], CC [Sabathia] and Sevy [Luis Severino] and [Masahiro] Tanaka kind of leading the way, and then from 1-9 in our lineup, any of those guys can be hitting anywhere. It’s scary, man, we can hit a three-run homer anytime with anyone in our lineup. With Chappy [Aroldis Chapman] coming back, and [Dellin] Betances, and [David] Robertson and [Jonathan] Holder and [Zach] Britton and all these guys we got in our pen, I mean, it’s like no one wants to face those guys either at the back end. If you talk to anyone in this clubhouse, I think everyone believes we’re gonna win the World Series.
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