NEW YORK (AP) — A franchise known for the Babe, the Boss and the Iron Horse has a new set of nicknames.
Clown face is in left, Bow and arrow competes for time in center and Male judge is stationed in right.
These monikers are all bestowed by the New York Yankees' Didi Gregorius. After wins, the shortstop tweets highlights and praise using emojis for teammates in his own digital hieroglyphs.
"Just spur of the moment," he said. "Whatever comes into mind, what I think will fit in best, and that's what I do."
Snarky sobriquets have given a cool edge to a usually staid-looking group known for puritanical pinstripes.
Man in tuxedo starts at third — Todd Frazier, a.k.a. The Toddfather. Glowing star (Starlin Castro) mans second and Squid (Gary Sanchez) is behind the plate. There's a compound emoticon — Flexed biceps and Pouting face for first baseman Chase Headley.
Oh, that Clown face: Brett Gardner. Jacoby Ellsbury is Bow and arrow and, if you haven't figured it out yet, Aaron Judge is Male judge.
"I think that's just maybe the impression that I give off sometimes just in my facial expressions," Headley said. "Certainly not how I feel, but I think maybe when I'm playing I'm focused or whatever and I look like that."
Stopwatch (Masahiro Tanaka) is on a rotation that also includes Baby — Luis Severino. Fire (Aroldis Chapman) finishes close wins.
"Some of them laugh about it," Gregorius said. "I don't think everybody knows that I'm doing it."
His emoticons keep gaining in prominence. The Yankees' tweeted their batting order with emoticons on June 22 and a TweetLikeDidi hashtag has gained traction. The team's YES Network analyzes Gregorius' tweets in the manner of Jean-Francois Champollion deciphering Egyptian artifacts in the 19th century.
Todd Frazier, acquired by the Yankees from the Chicago White Sox, feels honored by Gregorius' pick for him.
"I'm looking sharp, man, because that's probably the opposite of what I dress like," he said. "It's got like the Mafiosa kind of scene in there."
Rookie Clint Frazier quickly earned a triple emoji: Boxing glove, Carrot and Top with upwards arrow above.
"I wanted the lion emoji, because it had the big red mane," explained Frazier, who was forced to trim his long locks by the Yankees during spring training. "I like the boxing hands, too. He uses that as a reference for my quick hands, is what he says."
Gardner, called the "heart and soul" of the Yankees by pitcher CC Sabathia, wasn't sure whether his emoji meant he was a clown or a joker.
"Maybe a little bit of both. Maybe more the class clown." he said. "I'm not sure exactly what the meaning is behind it, but I know he has a lot of fun with it. People enjoy it. It's great."
Tanaka is Stopwatch followed by "time" because Gregorius considers it Tanaka Time when the Japanese star takes the mound. Castro sometimes gets a "lin" after his Star. Aaron Hicks is Older man.
"Didi, he's a trip," Hicks said with a wide smile.
Ellsbury got his Bow and Arrow because his mother is a Navajo. Sanchez became a Squid because general manager Brian Cashman referred to him two years ago as the Kraken, a legendary sea monster. First baseman Chris Carter was Rhinoceros. Backup catcher Austin Romine is Rowboat , and Miguel Andujar was dubbed Japanese ogre after getting three hits in his major league debut. When he got his first big league hit in June, Tyler Wade was referred to as Sleuth or spy.
"I got no idea," Wade said.
Rookie pitcher Jordan Montgomery is Turkey , he thinks maybe because he played college ball for the South Carolina Gamecocks.
"That's the only thing I can go with," he said.
Designated hitter Matt Holliday has perhaps the most boring emoticon combo: Flexed biceps and Neutral face . When rookie Garrett Cooper had a four-hit game this week, he earned "mini" followed by Automobile, a MINI Cooper.
"That's what he's called me the whole time I've been up here," Cooper said. "I kind of knew he was going to go with that."
Acquired from Arizona after the 2014 season, Gregorius arrived in New York with a title: The Dutch-born infielder was knighted a member of Order of Orange-Nassau after helping the Netherlands win the 2011 Baseball World Cup . His noble rank is even on his Twitter account, and the Yankees referred to him with a crossed swords emoji.
Gregorius initiated game recap tweets the following April , began inserting emojis the following month and started his Spreadthenews hashtag in August. Individual teammate emoticons were added starting in April 2016 , and two months later he tweeted: "An emoji is worth 1000 words!"
Gregorius, an artist who also draws and edits video, doesn't readily reveal the thought process of his emoticon decisions, even to teammates.
"They have to guess," he said.
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