Skip to main content

Placer Sentinel

Meet San Francisco's newest Giant: The Yermínator

Jul 05, 2022 12:00AM ● By Story and photos by Shaun Holkko, sports editor

Giants first baseman Yermín Mercedes kicks his left leg and prepares to swing at a pitch during his debut with the River Cats, a 13-5 win against El Paso on Wednesday, June 22 at Sutter Health Park in Sacramento.

Meet San Francisco's newest Giant: The Yermínator [4 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) – With two outs in the top of the ninth inning of a 15-4 blowout between the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins, Yermín Mercedes swung on a 3-0 pitch and crushed it to left center field for a home run.

Most people would think that such a moment deserves cheers and admiration from the winning team’s manager. However, that was not the case on May 17, 2021. White Sox manager Tony La Russa, who was 76 years old at the time with more than three decades of MLB managerial experience, called the moment a “big mistake” when he spoke to the media following the 16-4 victory.

According to Mercedes, he was surprised when he heard his manager’s comments to the media. La Russa said one thing to him privately in the locker room, and then said the opposite in his post-game press conference.

Baseball is America’s national pastime for a reason, and with that, comes an old school mentality from some people like La Russa who employ platitudes like the “unwritten rules” of baseball. La Russa’s disapproval went on to have a negative effect on the rising star and Mercedes was never as productive for Chicago statistically following that fateful day in May.

“We don’t have that rule in baseball,” Mercedes told the Messenger Publishing Group before making his debut with the Sacramento River Cats on June 22. “He’s an old manager. In that moment after the game, he came into my locker and he talked to me and said, ‘I got you, you’re okay, it’s my fault.’ Because I never saw the sign and he never gave me the sign. I think he gave it to the (base) coach, but he didn’t give it to me.

“I always go to home plate and make a swing; do the best I can do in the game for the whole team.”

RELATED: 'Cristian Pache’s biggest fan' for life

The Yermínator went from leading MLB in batting average (.364) to suddenly plummeting back down to Earth (.271) near the league average. The drop in production led to him being demoted back to Triple-A. Mercedes suffered an injury during spring training this year and had surgery in March before eventually being designated for assignment on June 12.

While with Chicago, Mercedes showed flashes of greatness. The Dominican Republic native set a major league record as the first player in modern MLB history to begin a season with eight consecutive hits, earning him MLB Rookie of the Month honors in April 2021. On April 2, 2021, Mercedes made history as the only White Sox player to record five hits in his first major league start.

“Big Yerm,” as he refers to himself, said he didn’t do anything abnormal during the hot streak. He just stuck to his daily pregame routine and approached the plate during each at bat with the goal of making solid contact.

“I never imagined I [would] be 5-for-5 in my first game in 2021,” Mercedes said. “Then the next day, I go 3-for-3 so in that moment I had 8-for-8. My next at bat I just popped out to center field and said ‘Wow, it’s unbelievable.’ Because I never, never imagined I would make it 8-for-8 in that moment.”

On June 18, the San Francisco Giants claimed Mercedes off waivers, giving the excited 29-year-old a fresh start and a new home. Mercedes made his debut for the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats, on June 22. Just like in his first start for Chicago, Mercedes recorded a hit in his first at bat for Sacramento, as the starting first baseman. Mercedes went 2-for-5 in his first game for the River Cats.

It didn’t take long for Mercedes to get the call to return to the big leagues as on June 26, the Giants recalled him from Sacramento to replace infielder Brandon Crawford who was placed on the 10-day injured list. Mercedes was 5-for-16 at the plate with two walks in four games for the River Cats.

Mercedes was optioned back to Sacramento three days later on June 29 after outfielder LaMonte Wade was activated off the IL. Then four days later, the Yermínator was back like he never left, returning to the Giants on July 3 to replace infielder Thairo Estrada, who was placed on the COVID-19-related IL.

“I know I can help the team out there,” Mercedes proclaimed with confidence. “I know they need me because I’m a good baseball player, I know that. I need to focus on working hard every time, every day coming to the ballpark. It doesn’t matter what the people say because when the people talk about you, it’s because you’re important. If you aren’t important, the people don’t talk about you.”

RELATED: What to know about attending a River Cats game in 2022

Mercedes provides the Giants with defensive versatility as he regularly plays first base, catcher and designated hitter. With highly-touted prospect Joey Bart recently demoted back to Triple-A, that could open a door for Mercedes to stay in the major leagues for the long run as a catcher.

In five games so far with San Francisco, Mercedes has gone 4-for-11 at the plate with two doubles, two runs scored and two walks. Defensively, he has started once at catcher and first base, respectively, with the other three starts as the designated hitter.

“The future has not been written,” John Connor said in the 1984 film, The Terminator. “There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.”

Whether or not Mercedes remains with the Giants long term is yet to be seen. However, whenever an opportunity presents itself, the Yermínator will be ready.

Sacramento Placer County arrest records
Upcoming Events Near You

No Events in the next 21 days.