TAMPA — It was just a passing conversation with Aaron Boone at Steinbrenner Field, but it now resonates more with Brett Gardner.
“He mentioned to me he was a little tired,’’ Gardner said after Boone took a leave of absence to have a pacemaker inserted Wednesday to address a low heart rate. “Looking back on it, it’s probably one of the reasons he wasn’t feeling 100 percent that day. I hope they caught it at the right time and it allows him to do his job to the best of his ability going forward.”
The procedure went “as expected” the Yankees said in a statement, but Boone, who will turn 48 on Tuesday, had already done his best to ease his team’s concern about his health issue.
“Anytime you hear about the heart, it’s very, very concerning,’’ Gardner said. “Obviously, he had issues there before. Our thoughts go out to him and his well-being, but his first thoughts go to his players and our well-being. It was good to see he was at ease. We look forward to getting him back here pretty shortly, but we’ll miss him while he’s gone.”
Giancarlo Stanton said Boone didn’t seem to show any effects leading up to Wednesday.
“How he’s been acting normal and how well he’s been able to cope with what he’s going through shows you how strong a person he is,’’ Stanton said.
Mike Ford said the news came as a “shock” to him.
“He’s an incredibly tough guy,’’ the first baseman said. “It puts things into perspective for me. You don’t know what can happen on any given day. We’re all supporting him.”
Though Gardner knew about the open heart surgery Boone underwent in 2009 to replace an aortic valve, Ford did not.
“I hope he’s kicking and fighting like he normally does,’’ Ford said. “He wanted to be the one to tell us.”
Bench coach Carlos Mendoza was part of a Zoom call earlier in the day and helped tell the players the news before showing the video of Boone from the hospital.
“I’m not going to say I was surprised, because obviously I’ve had previous conversations with him,’’ Mendoza said of the procedure. “But after talking to him this morning a couple times when he was at the hospital, he made me feel really good. The way he was talking, I felt good about it.”
And the Zoom calls helped.
“Everybody was able to see his face and that made me feel a lot better and all of us around here,” said Mendoza, who will serve as manager while Boone is away. “It made us feel a lot better.”