Thursday, December 20, 2012
I was reading the paper this morning - yes, you heard that correctly - and saw a familiar name that I hadn't seen in a while. Former Yankees second baseman Steve Sax was named as the first base coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Sax is more famous for his years as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he had a semi-successful three year run in the Bronx at the expense of fan favorite Willie Randolph. I was among the many that hoped Randolph would spend his entire career (aside from the 30 games he played with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1975) in a Yankees uniform.
Dallas Green was named manager of the 1989 Yankees and word was he wanted Sax as his second baseman. Both players were free agents - Sax signed with the Yankees on November 13 and just under a month later Randolph, ironically, signed with the Dodgers.
Sax was the '82 NL Rookie of the Year and a three-time All-Star before joining the Yankees. (He would add two more All-Star games to his resume while with the Yankees.) But Sax was also Chuck Knoblauch before Knoblauch was. I'm referring to the brain cramp Sax developed trying to make a routine throw to first base.
In just his second full season in the big leagues, Sax committed 30 errors and topped the 20 mark the next two years. Sax turned things around by the time he got to the Yankees, but there were times he was criticized for his defensive play, especially where he was positioned on some plays. (e.g. relays from the outfield.)
Sax hit .315 his first year in New York, with 205 hits, 43 stolen bases, and a .751 OPS. Though he stole 43 bases again in 1990, Sax's splits dropped to .260/.316/.325. But in his final year with the Yankees, Sax bounced back. He topped the .300 mark again, put up a .759 OPS, and hit a career high 10 home runs.
Following the 1991 season, Sax was dealt to the Chicago White Sox for Bob Wickman, Domingo Jean, and Melido Perez. Sax spent two seasons with the White Sox and finished his career with the Oakland A's in 1994.
Sax had worked in the financial industry and as a motivational speaker before joining the Dbacks organization, where he will be reunited with former Dodgers teammate and current AZ manager Kirk Gibson.