Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Austin, injured back before Spring Training, is rehabbing his way back to the big leagues.

SCRANTON, PA -- Twenty-five year old first basemen and outfielder Tyler Austin has fully recovered from his devastating foot fracture suffered on February 17 before the start of Spring Training. Playing five games previously for Double-A Trenton this season in his rehab-assignment, Austin is back in Triple-A to work his way back up to the majors with the American League East first-place Yankees.

“The timing of [the injury] was definitely tough. It was a week before camp started, for something like that to happen a week before camp starts when I know I’m coming in competing for a spot it’s difficult,” Austin confessed. “Once I found out it was fractured I took a couple days to kind of let it sink in I guess, then it was right back to work. I can’t sit down and feel sorry about myself, it was time to get back to work, and that’s what I did and here I am.

After his first rodeo with the New York Yankees last season, he is touring through his rehab assignment to get back to that level and build where he left off with five home runs and 12 RBI in 31 games in the end of last season for the Yankees.

“I feel good, my body feels great. Just trying to get back in the swing of things,” Austin said. “It’s tough, I think I’ve only played 10 games now, usually in Spring Training you play in a pretty good amount more than that.”

Austin, a native of Conyers Georgia, was drafted in 2010 by the New York Yankees. Nearly over two seasons in Double-A with the Trenton Thunder from 2013-2014, he finally got the call to play for the Scranton RailRiders in the early portion of 2015.

In 2015, Austin only batted .235 for the RailRiders and found himself back in Double-A for the start of the 2016 season. After playing 50 games for the Thunder, Austin came back to the RailRiders with vast improvement, hitting .323 with 13 home runs [career high] and 49 RBI in just 57 games played.

“It’s been good, I feel like for the most part the guys you face [in Triple-A] have Major League experience,” Austin said on his improvement in the Triple-A level. “You’re going to get a feel of how they’re going to pitch you here probably how they are going to pitch you up there, so it’s important.”

With the Yankees clearing house with trades after struggling most of the season in 2016, Austin got the call and made his major league debut for the Yankees on August 13 of last year.

“It’s such a great story, [Austin]’s been through the ringer in this game, he’s been at rock bottom, he’s had some highs throughout his career,” RailRiders hitting coach PJ Pillitere said, “and to see where he wound up last year, [I] couldn’t be happier for the guy. He’s a real hard worker, he’s so professional and he plays the game the right way.” 

Scranton RailRiders Manager Al Pedrique, like Pillitere, has seen plenty of Tyler Austin in the minor league system through managing him at Double-A in 2015 and now in Triple-A the past few seasons.

“It’s impressive what [Austin]’s done with his career, he lost a lot of time because of injuries. I had [Austin] in Double-A two years ago, this kid did nothing but work hard, and find his way to stay on the field,” Pedrique said. “Last year we had him here and he had a great year and it helped us a lot, then he went up to New York and did a good job. I give him a lot of credit, and I’m glad he’s healthy again showing he can still play this game.”

Playing for a historic franchise like the New York Yankees is something Austin doesn’t take for granted either and to add to all the success the current Yankees team is accomplishing Austin sees himself in the mix of things and hopes to make an impact in New York this season and beyond.

“It’s special. To get put on this uniform every day is just a blessing in itself,” Austin said. “Hopefully to be a part of something that’s going to be not only right now, but years to come in this organization it’s a great feeling and it’s exciting to look forward to the future. Even this year, the guys up there [in New York] are playing amazing, couldn’t be happier for those guys up there.”

Even with the New York Yankees exceeding expectations that many experts sought this season, they have struggled offensively at the first base position with a .148 batting average combined between Chris Carter, Greg Bird, and Rob Refsnyder.

Austin, who homered on Thursday night for the RailRiders, entered the minor league system as an outfielder and has added first base his to weaponry the last couple years, even starting 20 of his 31 games at the position for the Yankees in 2016.

“[Austin]’s just trying to get himself ready to go, and if he’s ready to go and he’s in a good spot, he can help anybody,” Pillitere said. “He’s a good player, gives you some versatility, can kick out to the outfield, can play first [base]. He’s a good right-handed bat that likes to hit at Yankee Stadium because he’s got a lot of power the other way.”

Like Austin mentioned before, he’s still early in process as he missed all of Spring Training. Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said this past Monday that he’ll need to get to at least 50 at-bats in his rehab assignment before he’s considered to be called up, according to the timesleader.com.

“I think I’ve definitely improved, especially on my approach to the plate,” Austin said. “I just want to go up there and help the team win, if I get a chance to go back up there [New York]. My goal every day is to come in and the help the team win any way possible.”


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