In the month of January, Jonathan Holder’s life isn’t much different than it was back at Gulfport High School. That will certainly change whenever the former Admiral reports to Yankees Spring Training next month.
Until then, he’s still playing the same sport in the same town he calls home.
When Jonathan Holder isn’t wearing pinstripes in the Big Apple, he’s still rocking the Yankee swag in Gulfport, away from all the distractions of the city that never sleeps. “Yeah, I think people understand that this is my down time and I’m here for a few months. But in the season there’s only a few off days within eight or nine months, so I really take my time here. I do my workouts and get in the best shape I can and try to enjoy some down time with my family and friends.”
This year, a big part of hitting the reset button included rehab for shoulder inflammation that forced Holder to shut it down last August for the rest of the season. “First and foremost just trying to be healthy again and then after that just trying to get in shape, get my body ready to go and perform at its peak level.”
Holder’s best version of himself came in 2018 when he allowed just two runs over a span of 32 relief appearances, but after ending last season with a plus 6 ERA, the former Mississippi State Bulldog says he’s not leaving anything to chance when he reports to Grapefruit League Spring Training on February 12th. “Spring is a time where a lot of guys come in, get in shape, get their work ready. I try to show up in shape and ready to earn a spot the day that I get there.”
That being said, trying to simulate Yankees-Red Sox in the late innings with a January bullpen session on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is easier said than done. “Nah. The pressure cooker moments, they’re always just as tough to be in. But just the day in, day out of being in New York and living there and learning how to be acclimated, it’s gotten a little bit easier for sure.”
From Gulfport to Starkville all the way to New York, it’s been quite the journey for the only Admiral to ever have his jersey retired. But that doesn’t mean he has to be the last. “Yeah, it’s cool. It’s cool coming back and I get to work with these kids a little bit and just share whatever knowledge I get from the Major League level and hopefully I can help one of them out or some of those guys out.”
Holder says he had somewhat of a breakthrough with his slider during today’s bullpen with former Southern Miss pitcher Kirk McCarty.
We’ll feature his rise through the Cleveland Indians farm system tomorrow night in sports.