In 1990, Gregorius was born in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam. He and his family moved to Curacao when he was 4 years old. Both his older brother, Johnny, and his father played baseball for the Curacao National Team. Didi also played basketball and was a swimmer.
Gregorius’s real name is Mariekson Julius Gregorius.
Gregorius's father, also Didi, pitched in both the Dutch amateur and professional ranks. And the younger Didi was born while his father was playing baseball in Amsterdam.
"I started as a pitcher," he said. "It was a family thing. My father pitched. My brother pitched. They moved me to second, then third. I started playing short when I was about 15."
Didi is a natural leader, though a rather quiet one. He is very serious about the game, but is always smiling and laughing. He has fun working at the game.
At the 2009 World Cup, Mariekson played for the Dutch team, while his father and brother, Johnny played for the Netherland Antilles.
In 2010, Baseball America rated Gregorius as the 15th-best prospect in the Reds' organization. He was at #19 in the winter before 2011 spring training. Then they moved Didi up to #8 in the offseason before 2012 spring camps opened. In the spring of 2013, after being traded to the D'Backs, he was 5th-best prospect in their organization.
Gregorius speaks English, Dutch, Spanish, and Papiamento.
In 2011, he played for the Netherlands' World Cup championship team. Instead of being rewarded with for his athletic contribution in winning the Gold Medal, he was KNIGHTED, but only after passing a squeaky-clean background check. He really is "Sir Didi Gregorius." He is a knight!
- Didi and the Braves' Andrelton Simmons have known each other since they were 5 or 6 and played on the same team growing up on an island off the coast of Venezuela in the Dutch West Indies. They grew up about 10 minutes from each other and always attended the same schools.
"We were a good team. We didn't lose many games," Gregorius said of those youth-team days. "Really, we hardly lost at all." "It didn't matter which one of us pitched," Simmons said of his close friend, "the other team wasn't going to hit either one of us."
Gregorius is apparently as great with the pen as he is with the glove. He is a very good artist.
Gregorius’ mother, Sheritsa Stroop, was a national softball player,
Let the record show that the first reference to "Starsky and Dutch," an applause-worthy blend of Starlin Castro's in-dugout nickname and Didi's heritage, was spoken on the air last week by Yankees broadcaster Suzyn Waldman. It deserves to have staying power.
The double-play combination now boasts a 1970s cop show moniker, which seemed to be just about all they were lacking as they helped power the Yankees' first week of the 2016 season. It is never a cinch to jell with new teammates, but Castro and Gregorius have made it look easy.
"Everybody's doing his job," Gregorius said. "That's the main part of the team. It's just helping each other out. We look like we're really good right now, so we try to stay on the same page."
Plenty has been said and written about Castro's blistering start, owning a pair of homers and eight RBIs in the team's first five games, but Gregorius has been just as sturdy as he begins his second season in New York.
"I give them a lot of credit, because so far this season, there really has not been a weak link in the lineup," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "They've all contributed. That makes it much more difficult for teams to navigate through our lineup."
Castro has credited Gregorius for helping his transition; the two had adjacent lockers during Spring Training and spoke often, something that has carried over into the regular season. They'll talk about offense, defense, velociraptors—pretty much what you'd expect in a baseball clubhouse.
Wait, what? The crew at Yankees On Demand took note of the budding friendship this spring, having the players reenact a classic scene between Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in the motion picture "Step Brothers." (If you haven't seen it, you should.) "He's a really great guy," Gregorius said. "He's here to work, he wants to get better every day. We talk all the time and we're picking everybody's brain. That's why we try to keep it fun up the middle."
Castro and Gregorius were inseparable for long stretches of the spring, even heading once to a golf driving range in the Tampa, Fla., area, but they were most often found on the back fields with infield coach Joe Espada, honing their baseball (and comedic) timing. "He made the transition last year to second base, but he looks like he's been playing there," Gregorius said. "He's comfortable, he's doing everything the right way. I like playing with him." (Hoch - MLB.com - 4/11/16)
Didi considers himself an artist. He started drawing at 9 years old. Many of his drawings he has posted at sirididig18 tweeter account. Didi also has a hobby of flying drones. (Intentional Talk - May 2016)
In addition to being the Yankees' shortstop, Didi is a knight (yes, for real, and you can call him Sir Didi). And what are knights supposed to do? Valorous deeds, of course. That's just what Sir Didi did on the morning of July 6, 2017. He gave some fellow travelers free rides on the subway.
Well ... maybe they weren't so free. Gregorius was a candidate in the Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote, and was trading rides for #SirDidi4Sure tweets. (Kaneko - mlb.com - 7/6/17)
One of Didi's nicknames is "Sir Didi." A native of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Gregorius was on the team that won the 2011 IBAF Baseball World Cup. Following the victory, each member of the team was knighted in Curacao.
Nov. 21, 2017: Gregorius took a break to check an item off his offseason bucket list. That's right, the Dutch knight spent his morning swimming with the sharks.
Dec 22, 2017: When Didi Gregorius was aiming for a trip to the All-Star Game in July, 2017, the Yankees shortstop utilized unique ways to lobby for votes, including offering free swipes on the New York City subway and taking photos for tourists at iconic locations. In this season of giving, Gregorius recently returned to the Big Apple with the mission of spreading joy and cheer.
"I'm back. Didi's deeds, holiday edition," Gregorius said. "We're here to bring some joy to the kids. I'll be around." Carrying a bag filled with goodies, Gregorius moved across the island of Manhattan, visiting the Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where he donned a red and green elf suit to pose for pictures with patients and brighten their days.
Seven miles south, Gregorius emerged again on a chilly December afternoon, handing out high-fives to young fans and distributing knit Yankees caps to fans. He approached two New York City police officers stationed outside Rockefeller Plaza, one of whom recognized him instantly.
"Oh, wow," the officer said, embracing Gregorius while exchanging a hearty handshake. "Didi, what's up, brother?"
That same day, Gregorius stood near the crosswalk of a busy intersection, spotting a fan walking toward him while wearing an orange and blue Mets cap. Gregorius dug into his stash and presented the fan with a Yankees cap, holding his team's logo over that of their crosstown rivals. "It's better for you," Gregorius told him, though it remained a tough sell.
The 28-year-old has continued to find ways for his personality to shine through to fans.
In addition to the occasional #DIDIsDeeds, which he shares on Instagram and Twitter, Gregorius' emoji-filled tweets have become must-reads after every Yankees victory. He was also one of the most active participants in the team's fun dugout shenanigans, which included the celebratory "thumbs-down" gestures that marked the season's final two months, as well as mock interviews with players after big home runs.
"It just shows the whole team is together," Gregorius said. "We started something, and you want the whole team to be in on it. That shows everybody is together. Everybody plays hard. It's just keeping everybody loose, keeping everybody happy and concentrating on the game at the same time. The more relaxed we are, I think, the better." (B Hoch - MLB.com - Dec 22, 2017)
March 3, 2018: Papiamento, in case you were wondering.
Before the Yankees' 5-3 win over the Red Sox in the teams' first meeting of the spring, shortstops Didi Gregorius and Xander Bogaerts spent some time on the field catching up, talking baseball, family and other things. And they did so in Papiamento, the native language of Gregorius, who grew up in Curacao, and Bogaerts, who grew up in Aruba. It is one of four languages they each speak, along with English, Dutch and Spanish.
The Yankees would like Gregorius, who turned 28 in February, to use his linguistic versatility and burgeoning leadership skills to mentor some of the younger players on the roster, including second baseman Gleyber Torres and third baseman Brandon Drury, who also made the trip to face the Red Sox. "I'm seeing an established player, and we're trying to challenge him to take on even more of a leadership role now, especially with our infield," said new manager Aaron Boone.
"He's kind of the senior spokesman there. He's the leader. It's important for me that he really takes guys under his wing and kind of becomes the voice out there in our infield."
It's a role Gregorius is willing to take on. "I always talk to them," Gregorius said. "I see young guys, everybody is willing to learn. So I think that's one of those things that I want to pass on what was passed on to me. So you got to prepare the guys for what's going on in the big leagues, so whenever they get there they don't have to get comfortable then—they should be already comfortable when they get there."
Just as Gregorius was comfortable last season, when he hit .287 and set career highs with 25 home runs, 73 runs scored and 87 RBIs in 136 games. He set a Yankees record, surpassing Derek Jeter (24, 1999) for home runs in a season for a shortstop. Among all shortstops, Gregorius was second in home runs, third in RBIs and fifth with a .478 slugging percentage.
"I don't really care about rankings and all that," Gregorius said. "All I want to do is be good for my team, that's all. That's the best way to play the game instead of worrying about everything. Everyone's going to judge you at some point no matter what you do in life. On the field, off the field, there's always somebody judging you. So if you just go out there and play the game, you got nothing to worry about."
"I think we're seeing a guy that's established himself as a really good player in this league," Boone said. "I've been happy with his work so far. [He had] a couple of really good at-bats, and it is his first back-to-back game. So that's another step on his way of getting ready for the season. But just one of those guys you're excited to have on your side, with what he brings to the table on both sides of the ball now." (M Mullen - MLB.com - March 3, 2018)
Jim Stoeckel signed Didi Gregorius for the Reds in 2007. But when Stoeckel observed Gregorius as a teenager in Curacao, Stoeckel was sure of this much: If Gregorius became a baseball sensation, he would know how to handle the attention.
"He's the same guy he was in 2007," Stoeckel told MLB.com. "Whoever did the research for the Yankees on how to replace Derek Jeter, they couldn't have picked a better guy. I knew if he got a shot to play every day [in the Majors], he'd do OK, because he could handle failure. He'd go 0-for-4 and come in smiling the next day. He has a short memory, and he lives to play baseball."
By managing the Dutch national team in the early 1980s, Stoeckel became familiar with Johannes Gregorius, a Curacao native who pitched for the Amsterdam Pirates of the Netherlands' top league. Johannes went by a unique nickname: Didi. Two decades later, Stoeckel traveled back to the Netherlands to evaluate players at The Kingdom Games—an 18-and-under tournament featuring teams from Holland, Curacao and Aruba—in his role with Cincinnati. He saw the Gregorius name on Curacao's roster.
"Is he any relation to Didi?" Stoeckel asked one of the Dutch officials. "That's his son," came the reply. Intrigued, Stoeckel observed Gregorius closely during the tournament and called Reds executive Terry Reynolds to arrange a private workout back in Curacao. At that session, Stoeckel remembered, "Didi put on a show. He played shortstop. He had a rangy body and a really good arm. He could put the ball in play left-handed, but he wasn't that great of a runner. He was 17, a year past signing age. I was curious why he didn't sign earlier."
After meeting with the Gregorius family, Stoeckel learned the reason: Didi's parents had wanted him to remain in school in Curacao. Didi's mother, Sheritsa, had played softball for the Dutch national team. In the end, Stoeckel's familiarity with Didi's father was a key factor in the Gregorius family becoming comfortable with the notion of their teenaged son turning pro.
"They told us, 'We know you, and we know the Reds, and if you bring him to instructional league in Sarasota this year, then you have a deal,'" Stoeckel recalled. Reynolds agreed. Gregorius signed for a $50,000 bonus. "As soon as he got to Sarasota, everybody saw what we saw," Stoeckel said. "He was intense. He was committed. He comes from a great family. He has a great background. Nothing fazes him. He grew up with the core of those World Baseball Classic teams: Andrelton Simmons, Jonathan Schoop, Xander Bogaerts. They'd all played together before." (Jon Paul Morosi - MLB.com - May 1, 2018)
You aren't truly a star until you've been given a nickname, whether you're The Man, the Kid, or Big Sexy.
But the nickname is not just an American phenomenon: Fans of the Chinese Professional Baseball League, or CPBL, have their very own nickname system. And just as many English language nicknames are based on puns, these nicknames are also largely based on the player names' phonetic similarity to Mandarin words.
Rob Liu, who runs CPBLStats.com, one of the greatest English-language information sources on the league, spoke to MLB.com from his home in Taiwan to introduce us to these glorious nicknames, and to give a little more info for some of them.
Though these nicknames may not be as popular with non-baseball fans, Liu says, "If you are really into baseball, [fans] will know these sorts of names."
Here are some of the best. We've included the Mandarin spelling of each nickname and its pronunciation to help illuminate their lore.
Corey Kluber: Uncle Skeleton ÷¼ót²® (Ku-Lou-Bo)
Bartolo Colon: Eight-headed Dragon °Ëî^ýˆ (Ba-Tou-Long)
Francisco Lindor: Chairman Lin ÁÖ¶ (Lin-Dom)
"In the business world in Taiwan, if you're a chairman, they always use your last name and add 'Dom.' So, if you're Lin, you're Lin-Dom."
Miguel Cabrera: Ricecake Ã×¸â (Mi Gao)
Dallas Keuchel: Mouth Open é_¿Ú (Kai Kou)
Albert Pujols: The Bionic Man Éú»¯ÈË (Sheng Hua Ren)
"This is more for Pujols' performance and the way he plays than how it sounds." Note: It's also a play on his American nickname, The Machine.
Justin Morneau: Ferocious Bull ÃÍÅ£ (Meng Niou)
"Morneau is a ferocious bull and Morneau hit well for the organization. So, you put two and two together."
Chi-Chi Gonzalez and Didi Gregorius: Chip and Dale ¾ÈëyÐ¡¸£ÐÇ Chi-Chi and Di-Di
"Whenever those two have a matchup, the people of Taiwan call them Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers. Because in Taiwan, we call Chip and Dale, Chi Chi and Didi." (Michael Clair -MLB.com-Feb. 28, 2019)
2007: The Reds signed Gregorius as a free agent, out of the Netherlands, Antilles (Curacao). Scout Jim Stoeckel signed him to a $50,000 bonus.
December 11, 2012: The Indians traded Choo to the Reds, acquiring P Trevor Bauer from the D-Backs in a three-team trade. CF Drew Stubbs went from Cincinnati to Cleveland. The Tribe also received RHP Matt Albers and RHP Bryan Shaw from the Diamondbacks.
Cleveland shipped Choo, INF Jason Donald, and about $3.5 million to the Reds, while sending LHP reliever Tony Sipp and first baseman Lars Anderson to Arizona. The D-Backs also received Didi Gregorius from Cincinnati.
December 5, 2014: The Yankees acquired Gregorius from the Diamondbacks in a three-team trade that also involved the Tigers. RHP Shane Greene was traded from the Yankees to Detroit. And Arizona received LHP Robbie Ray and minor league infielder Domingo Leyba from the Tigers.
Jan 13, 2017: Didi and the Yankees avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $5.1 million.
- Jan 11, 2019: Didi and the Yankees avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $11.7 million.
|Home:||N/A||Team:||YANKEES - IL|
|Birth City:||Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|Draft:||2007 - Reds - Free agent - Out of Curacao|
Gregorius is wiry strong, but doesn't have home run power to speak of. He sprays the ball around effectively. He has a good feel for the little man's game. Being a lefthanded-hitting shortstop is another positive in Gregorius's favor, though he has struggled against lefties throughout his career.
He is a solid bunter who uses his plus speed to his advantage.
Didi has come a long way with the bat, now even getting in good swings vs. lefthanded pitchers. He endeavors to stay real loose—to think less and react more.
He has a quick bat. He can get to a fastball, and that's what separates Major League players from Triple-A players. He is learning to adjust to other pitches. And he is learning to hit the ball to the opposite field. (Spring 2013)
Some scouts think Gregorius could end up as a No. 2 hitter, while others think he'll fit at the bottom of a lineup.
D'Backs manager Kirk Gibson is impressed with Didi: "He's got pull power," Gibson said. "He's pretty aggressive at the plate, but he battles. He sees the righties really well. He said he doesn't see lefties as well and we told him to make a little adjustment, open up a little bit and get your eyes squared to the pitcher, and it's helped him a lot."
April 18, 2013: Didi tried to keep his emotions in check as he rounded the bases. He did a good job of it until he got between second and third. That's when a giant smile took over his face.
"I was really happy rounding the bases," Gregorius said. "At first I was trying not to smile, but then I smiled anyway."
No one will begrudge Gregorius the his joy at hitting his first big league homer in his first at-bat as a D-back. While it was not his first Major League at-bat (he had 20 at-bats for the Reds in 2012), it took place in Yankee Stadium, a place he said he always dreamed of playing.
September 28, 2016: Some of the most recognizable names in Yankees history took their positions in the middle of the diamond, but for all of that talent, Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius have accomplished something that the likes of Derek Jeter, Willie Randolph, Tony Lazzeri, and Phil Rizzuto never did.
Gregorius hit his 20th home run of the season in the Yankees' 6-4 victory over the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, joining Castro (21) as the first double-play combination in franchise history to each hit 20 or more home runs in a single season.
"My mom actually told me that," Gregorius said. "Me and Castro, we talked in Spring Training about just trying to make something great. We said, 'Let's be the best we can.' We try to push each other and help each other out, on and off the field. It's great and it's fun.
"To be the first middle infielders in Yankees history, we can say that we added something to all the history that's already here."
Castro and Gregorius are just the third double-play combination in Major League history age 26 or younger to hit at least 20 homers, according to the YES Network. They joined the Astros' Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa (2016) and the Mariners' David Bell and Alex Rodriguez (1999).
Both Castro and Gregorius have established new career highs in homers in 2016. Castro's previous high was 14, done twice with the Cubs, while Gregorius' previous high was the 9 he hit last year with the Yankees. (Bryan Hoch - MLB.com)
Didi continued to insist that he does not view himself as a power hitter, but his residency in the cleanup spot of the Yankees' lineup suggests differently, as does the fact that he is now the only shortstop in franchise history to belt 20 homers in back-to-back seasons.
"I'm not worried about the home runs," Gregorius said. "For me, it's about trying to make improvements, trying to get better. If I hit home runs, I hit home runs, but I'm not going out there to try to hit them. It's nice to have them." (Hoch - mlb.com 9/4/17)
September 17, 2017: Gregorius tied Derek Jeter for the most home runs, 24, in a season by a Yankees shortstop. (Editor's note: And he missed the first month of the season on the D.L.)
September 20, 2017: Didi connected for his 25th blast of the season as part of a six-run frame, a three-run shot that set a single-season record for homers by a Yankees shortstop. The previous mark had been set by Derek Jeter's 24 homers in 1999, and Gregorius made sure to bring the milestone ball home.
April 3, 2018: Gregorius set a franchise record for a shortstop with his eight RBIs, which were the most by a Yankee since Alex Rodriguez had 10 in an April 2005 game. The eight RBIs also were the most by anyone on any team in a home opener.
June 12, 2018 : Derek Jeter never did it, but Didi Gregorius now has. The infielder reclaimed his power stroke with his third multihomer performance of the year, establishing a single-season franchise record for shortstops.
As of the start of the 2019 season, Gregorius's career Major League stats were: .267 batting average, 94 home runs and 739 hits with 356 RBI in 2,772 at-bats.
Mariekson has excellent body control. He displays excellent footwork at shortstop. He is very fluid in his actions and looks very natural at shortstop.
His glove work is smooth, far ahead of his bat.
Gregorius has a great arm to go with some natural athleticism and good baseball instincts. He can make any throw, often without having to set his feet.
His arm is rated at 65 or 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. It is very strong, and his throws are accurate. He also has above-average range.
Didi's hands can be erratic at times. But like his range and arm, all are above-average assets, overall.
But he earned best infield arm recognition for two straight seasons in Baseball America's Best Tools surveys—in the low Class A Midwest League in 2010 and the high Class A Carolina League in 2011.
Gregorius showed his stuff by ranging 24.7 feet (mostly away from first base) as tracked by Statcast in making a spectacular play to rob Toronto's Kevin Pillar of a hit.
We could give you all of the impressive numbers about what Gregorius did in his first month (April 2015) with the Yanks. Despite going the other way and not setting his feet, he still got nearly 72 mph on the throw. But what's important to remember is that a great play like this isn't just about who's making the out. It's also about who's on the other side of it. Gregorius surely knew that Pillar could run and that he had no time to waste, which is why numbers like a throwing release time of just three-quarters of a second are important. Fractions of a second matter on many plays like this. (Petriello - mlb.com - 5/6/15)
2015: It'd be easy to start off by saying that Didi has had a rough go of it trying to replace Derek Jeter as the Yankees' shortstop, but it's unfair to suggest that's actually what he's doing. No one could replace the legendary Jeter on or off the field. Gregorius's task is simply to prove that he's more than just a twice-traded 25-year-old who has yet to play a full season in the big leagues.
While it has indeed been a poor start of the 2015 season with the bat, offense isn't Gregorius' only job. With all due respect to the decorated and departed Jeter, shortstop defense had become a considerable problem for the Yankees in recent years. From 2012-14, Yankee shortstops finished last in every advanced defensive metric, even with Jeter missing much of 2013. Gregorius, on the other hand, had shown flashes of stardom but had generally ranked as about average, which is more impressive than it sounds. (If you're average, that means you're better than half the population.) In other words, "average" is an upgrade for the Yankees in terms of defense at shortstop.
- Didi runs well, but is not very aggressive on the bases. He doesn't have a knack for stealing bases yet. (Spring 2013)
- From the left side of the plate to first base, Gregorius consistently clocks in at 4.06 seconds. So he has average, or a bit better, speed.
- He is learning to read pitchers better so that he can steal some bases.
January 2013: Gregorius began feeling discomfort in his right elbow while working out
March 30-April 16, 2013: Didi began the season on the D.L. with a right elbow strain.
April 27-May 4, 2013: Gregorius was on the 7-day concussion D.L. with the D-Backs.
March 21-April 28, 2017: Didi was sidelined with a sore right arm (with a strained subscapularis muscle in his throwing shoulder).
Gregorius was hurt while turning a double play for the Netherlands in an exhibition game against Arizona in preparation for the World Baseball Classic semifinals. He returned to the Yankees' spring camp.
''It just happened on one play,'' Gregorius said. ''It was just a regular throw and it happened.''
Aug 20-Sept 7, 2018: Didi was on the DL with left heel contusion.
September 23, 2018: Gregorius tore cartilage in his right wrist while sliding into home plate.