Source: North Jersey.com
New York Yankees fans are familiar with Gio Urshela’s graceful movements on the field, snaring wickedly hit grounders at third base with the greatest of ease.
Urshela possesses an even greater skill for compassion, easing the burden on children at Hackensack University Medical Center with a visit, a smile, an autographed photo, and some time to talk about baseball – or anything else on their minds.
“I feel really blessed,” Urshela said of being able to bring some joy to kids “who really need it.”
On Tuesday, Urshela was presented with Hackensack University Medical Center’s Health Ambassador award for his gracious work and valuable time in bringing cheer to the children’s wing.
For kids battling cancer and other serious illnesses, Urshela’s visits leave “a lasting impression,’’ said Bob Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health.
“It’s a game changer; it lifts their spirits – both the patients and the parents,’’ Garrett said of the presence of Urshela, a 2021 Thurman Munson Award recipient for his humanitarianism and community work. “We’re so grateful that Gio is doing this.’’
Urshela flew up from his offseason Tampa, Florida, home for Tuesday’s visit, with a quick turnaround.
“Too cold here,’’ Urshela said with a laugh. He is soon scheduled to resume workouts at the Yankees’ minor league complex, preparing for a 2022 season with a lot of unknowns.
Urshela is due to earn about $6.8 million in arbitration, according to baseball-reference.com estimates, and he’s also a potential Yankees trade chip, along with first baseman Luke Voit. Uninterested in following MLB’s swirling winter trade winds, Urshela says he’s not focused on things he can’t control.
And with the versatile DJ LeMahieu entering the second year of a long-term contract, there’s a chance that either Urshela, LeMahieu, or both, could find starts by floating around the infield.
“Doesn’t really matter for me,’’ Urshela said of his 2022 role. “Wherever they want me to play, I will play.’’