Sims has a deep connection to the Yankees that dates back to a previous visit two years ago. Manager Joe Girardi raved about the team's opportunity to bring in the 10-year-old middle infielder. It was clear the day might have been as special for the Yankees as for their young guest.
"He was outstanding, just a special kid," Girardi said of Sims, who was represented by Yankees lefty CC Sabathia for the signing of the contract. "He's overcome extraordinary obstacles to be the kid he came to be. That's special for all of us.
"I was very proud how all the players responded to him. That was great to see. ... That's a lesson for all of us."
Sims signed his deal during the team's pre-workout meeting on Monday morning. He chatted with stars like Alex Rodriguez in the clubhouse and proceeded to take batting practice with a group that also included Mark Teixeira and Rodriguez. He made solid contact throughout the session and even sent a well-struck ball right back at the pitcher.
Rodriguez in particular got a thrill out of the afternoon with Sims, tweeting pictures of the adventure and writing, "So grateful that I got to spend time with Landis Sims today. A true inspiration."
Sims is able to bat with the aid of a special prosthetic that cups the bat. On the defensive end, a soccer shin guard is inserted into his glove. The setup works well enough that he plays Little League baseball competitively in Elizabeth, Ind., a small town outside of Louisville, Ky.
During his previous trip to Yankees Spring Training, Sims got to meet his hero, Derek Jeter.
"We got word that he'd like to come back, and we made it happen," said Jason Zillo, a member of the Yankees' media relations team. "[Girardi] took him under his wing and we rolled out the red carpet for him."
Filmmaker Eric Cochran is chronicling Sims' experiences, including his Little League play, and the initial footage was screened to the team before the team's workout. Sims was given a locker, played games and received autographs from players; the bat A-Rod signed read, "To a great teammate." He also brought the lineup card out before the club's 1-0 loss to the Astros at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
"I think he had a lot of fun," Zillo said. "He wants to play for the Yankees, and it's inspiring to see somebody like that."