Vladimir Guerrero Jr. doubles down on Yankees comments then promptly homers off of them

Apr 21, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) hits
Apr 21, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) hits / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

A century ago, the New York Yankees moved to their palatial ballpark at the corner of East 161st Street and River Avenue. In those 100 years, few players have done more to make themselves into a public enemy than Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Guerrero made it known this offseason that, not only did he want to play his entire career in Toronto, but even if he left town he would never don the iconic Yankees pinstripes. “I would never sign with the Yankees, not even dead,” he said. Guerrero doubled down on those comments on Friday afternoon, before the Blue Jays began a three-game series in the Bronx against their AL East rival. “It’s a personal thing. It goes back with my family. That’s my decision.”

As if the fans didn’t have enough reason to jeer him when he came to bat against Yankees starter Domingo Germán in the first inning, he quickly gave them another one. A few hours after publicly rejecting New York, Guerrero slammed an 0-1 hanging curveball from Germán into the left-field bullpen for a two-run home run to put the Blue Jays ahead 2-0.

Guerrero, despite his hostility toward the opposing team, has always enjoyed hitting at Yankee Stadium. He’s a career .295 hitter in the “House that Ruth Built” and now has 11 home runs, four more than any other ballpark other than Toronto and the Blue Jays’ temporary homes in Buffalo and Dunedin. Guerrero has more home runs by any visiting player in the Bronx since debuting in the league in 2019, including a three-homer game last April 13.

Guerrero’s apathy to playing with the Yankees apparently extends back nearly 20 years, when his Hall of Fame father became a free agent. The Yankees had a chance to sign him but passed and instead went with Gary Sheffield. The elder Guerrero signed with the Angels and won AL MVP his first year in Anaheim. He lasted six years with the Angels, hitting 173 of his 449 career home runs. Sheffield hit 76 over his three years with the Yankees.

The son is under team control through the 2025 season. Even if he doesn’t sign an extension that keeps him in a Blue Jays uniform for the bulk of his career, Blue Jays fans can rest easy knowing one thing for certain: they’ll never have to see him playing for the hated Yankees.