Aaron Judge ready to fill up Yankees’ vacant left field
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TAMPA, Fla. – The New York Yankees’ captain Aaron Judge is open to playing in left field, which continues to remain vacant after Andrew Benintendi’s departure. Manager Aaron Boone has already talked to the All-Star outfielder about trying him in left field this spring.
Aaron Judge spoke about his conversation with Boone on Tuesday. He told:
“I did mention it to him, if we need to get Big G in right field at Yankee Stadium, put me in left. I don’t mind it. I don’t mind switching around so we can have Harrison Bader, me, and Big G out there. So, we’ll get some reps in spring training and (get) comfortable out there.”
While this will allow the Yankees to have one of their best outfielders in a position that they want to fix before the regular season, this allows more playing time for Giancarlo Stanton.
Aaron Judge said that he wanted to see how good he was this spring in left field. But Boone wouldn’t say when or how many innings Aaron Judge would play in left field to test his skills.
“I’m open to things like that, especially in the home ballpark. So, we’ll see. … We’ll see,” Boone said. “I would say I’m at least considering it. We’ll just kind of see how that goes. No decision on that yet but it’s something on my board.”
Added Aaron Judge: “The only way you can really test things out, is (to) throw yourself out there. Hopefully, I’ll get a couple of games out there. I don’t think I’ve played left field since probably college! I know (Stanton) wants to be a good outfielder. He’s good out there; made a couple of plays in the past couple of years. I expect to see him out there quite a bit.”
Stanton is also open to the change suggested by Aaron Judge. According to him, playing in a field position instead of being the designated hitter is going to keep him “more engaged” in the game and give him “more of a flow.” When he is warming up to bat as the designated hitter, he has to “watch the game on TV” in the clubhouse. Since he joined the Yankees in 2018, Stanton has played 60 games in left field.
But Boone knows that getting the right balance between the DH and the outfielders will be one of the keys to the Yankees’ success this season. This is especially true given Stanton’s history of injuries. As the team’s captain, Aaron Judge can’t ignore it.
And getting a Gold Glove outfielder like Harrison Bader will make it harder for Aaron Judge to continue playing in center field, where he played most of his games last year (78 of 129) before the Yankees traded for the New York native.
“What is that right amount? What’s the right amount, in a perfect world, where you’re healthy, what’s the right amount of outfield reps during the week?” Boone said. “I am of the belief that (Stanton) playing in the outfield is good for his game. But I also think it’s good for his health. Playing the field, when healthy, gives him a better shot at staying healthy.”
Aaron Hicks, the team’s main left fielder who led the team with 46 starts there last year, hasn’t done much for the team. The 33-year-old switch-hitting outfielder was subject to boos last year because he made a lot of mistakes on defense and had a bad year at the plate. This is a headache for Captain Aaron Judge and the team manager.
However, the Yankees may consider Oswaldo Cabrera, a 23-year-old rookie who was mostly an infielder until he was called up to the major leagues in mid-August and given the chance to play outfield for 34 games. Also, the Yankees invited several experienced outfielders to spring training. But it’s important to note that both Boone and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman expect Hicks to have a good year.
Willie Calhoun, a former infielder who moved to the outfield, played 163 games in left field for the Texas Rangers over the last five years. Rafael Ortega, a veteran centerfielder from Venezuela who bats left-handed, played 93 games in the outfield for the Chicago Cubs over the last two years.
But Aaron Judge trying out the left-field position will eclipse all options available.
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