The Yankees’ Josh Donaldson is confident he can turn things around

Josh Donaldson has been around long enough to know how to weather offensive early-season struggles for both himself and his team.

Though the Yankees third baseman has yet to achieve the end results he and the team believe he is capable of, he draws on his experience and trusts his approach will help get him back on track.

“I think what makes it easier is that the guys understand what makes them successful,” Donaldson said Friday before the Yankees’ 4-1 win over the Guardians at the stadium. “If you understand that, then there’s a reason why boys succeed. We don’t have a bunch of people here that just did it for a year and you kind of hope it happens. We mostly have a lot of people who have had significant years and you know that’s going to change.

Donaldson, who went 0-2 with two walks and one run made in the Yankees win, has a .184/.286/.306 slash in 14 games.

The 36-year-old, who was taken over by the Twins early in spring training, isn’t the only Yankee with a slow start, but he knows where he needs to improve.

Josh Donaldson
Josh Donaldson
Michelle Farsi

“I feel like I’m swinging too much right now and I’m missing out,” said Donaldson, who had 17 strikeouts and five walks in 52 plate appearances. “I feel like I’ve probably gotten a little over-anxious about the Toronto series and started to widen the strike zone. I felt like during the road trip I started to do better, control the strike zone and have some success. But it’s a process.”

The upfront metrics support that claim — Donaldson’s breath rate of 33.7 was in the 15th percentile in MLB, and his pursuit rate of 40.4 (well above his career average of 22.8 percent) was in the fifth percentile, according to Baseball Savant.

But other underlying contact quality numbers also gave reason to believe Donaldson isn’t far off. His average exit velocity was in the 94th percentile and his percentage of people severely hit was in the 70th percentile.

“He’s probably one of the guys I’m least worried about,” manager Aaron Boone said. “For me it’s about health. If he’s healthy, Josh Donaldson will strike. So I want him to get rolling, no doubt about that, but I’m also pretty confident he’ll be able to do it.”

Boone hoped Donaldson’s double Thursday in Detroit would serve as a jump-start, although that was the case after the veteran hit his first home run of the year in Baltimore last Saturday. Boone then said it looked like something clicked for Donaldson in his at-bats that night against the Orioles, but in three starts since then he’d gone punchless.

“It’s just an everyday thing for me,” Donaldson said. “It’s about going out there and iterating and having an approach and trusting the approach.”

As for his health, Donaldson, who briefly nursed a sore right shoulder in spring training, said he’s feeling fine so far. Boone was wary of handling Donaldson, only starting him once in consecutive days at third base. With Giancarlo Stanton playing a few games a week outfield, Donaldson was also able to come in as a DH “to try to keep him a little bit,” Boone said.

“I think in the beginning it’s probably going to be more like that,” Donaldson said. “I can’t tell you a day when that will change, but we’ll get through the first month somehow and see how it goes from there.

“The goal is for me to feel good throughout the season. So up to that point, I’ve felt good about where I am.” The Yankees’ Josh Donaldson is confident he can turn things around


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