The mentorship bond: Aaron Judge supports Anthony Volpe to settle in Yankees’ fold

Yankees' Anthony Volpe is celebrating with Aaron Judge at Yankee Stadium after hitting his first home run on April 14, 2023, against the Twins.

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Anthony Volpe turned 22 on April 28. For the last one year, the young shortstop has been through a fairytale journey. He made waves in the Yankees farm system and got an invitation to the spring training after many see him as a young Derek Jeter. Next came the big break as the Yankees shortstop in MLB. He continues to evolve under the friendship and guidance of Yankees captain Aaron Judge.

Aaron Judge surprises Anthony Volpe

The rookie was getting ready to make his major league debut. The day before Opening Day, Anthony Volpe was in a posh Manhattan suit shop getting outfitted for his first road travels as the Yankees‘ starting shortstop. The young man, age 21, made his selections while the tailor was busy making several phone calls. Anthony Volpe took money out of his pocket, but the tailor told him to put it back. Aaron Judge had planned a stealthy, out-of-town payment. Volpe was taken aback.

“It’s something personal that sticks with you forever,” he said.

Aaron Judge was hesitant to speak up when a reporter questioned him about the change. In 2016, before his debut in the major leagues, no one had ever done that for him. But for the Yankees’ captain, it was merely an opportunity to ease the rookie’s burdens and demonstrate the team’s support for him.

“It’s just what you do,” Judge said.

Aaron Judge leads veterans to guide Anthony Volpe

Aaron Judge, Stanton, and Anthony Volpe pose for a photograph during the Yankees 2023 spring training game at Tampa, FL.

The leaders of the Yankees did all this as part of a not-so-well-thought-out plan to ease the youngster into life in the Bronx clubhouse. After hearing Anthony Volpe talk about a soccer game they both enjoy, Judge surprised him with a PS5 during spring training. Anthony Volpe is in the Yankees’ hitting group alongside veterans Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton so he can observe their meticulous pregame preparation. When Anthony Rizzo watches his teammates bat, he often sees Volpe sitting next to him in the dugout. Judge and center fielder Harrison Bader brought Anthony Volpe to Saturday night’s Game 3 between the Rangers and the Devils at Madison Square Garden.

Anthony Volpe has recently displayed behavior more indicative of a person who is comfortable in his new surroundings. However, prior to Sunday’s 5-1 loss to the Blue Jays, he was hitting .265 (9-for-34) with two homers and an OPS of .875 in his previous 10 games before going 0-for-4 and making an error. A scoreless game was broken in the eighth inning by his two-run home bomb, and the Yankees went on to win in the 10th on a walk-off. In eight attempts, he has never been caught while attempting to steal a base. Of active players, only Orioles’ Cedric Mullins (9-for-9) has a better record. Judge believes he hasn’t appeared overmatched despite his overall.188 batting average. He’s in every at-bat,” Judge said.

Judge, Rizzo stand by Anthony Volpe

Anthony Volpe had a rough start to the summer. Despite his status as a promising young player, few predicted he would emerge victorious from the Yankees’ shortstop competition in the preseason. Anthony Volpe, a native of New Jersey, was expected to begin the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre due to the presence of more experienced players like Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Oswald Peraza. The Yankees’ upper management is currently making every effort to ensure Anthony Volpe’s success.

Aaron Boone, the manager, has noticed that they take turns caring for him.

“I think they have totally embraced him, and Anthony has embraced them back,” he said. “He’s very much entrenched and part of that group, and part of that closeness this group has forged over the last few years. Anthony’s becoming a big part of that.”

Rizzo views his assistance of Anthony Volpe as more of an act of kindness than as aiding a friend. Because the Yankees took the rookie in the first round of the 2019 draft out of high school, he is well aware of the comparisons to Derek Jeter.

“It’s just a human being thing, really,” Rizzo said. “You put yourself in someone else’s shoes or in their context or where they’re at in their journey. For a player in my position or in Judge’s or other people — we’ve been in his position before. We can relate. So, just any questions that he has or anyone else has, I want anyone to come in and ask our team. It’s hard in any profession — especially with the quote-unquote power that just comes with where you are to go and have a conversation. I’m sure it’s hard for people to talk to their bosses. … It’s just our personalities. Making sure you give advice as you see it in the right way and if it’s needed.”

Yankees' Anthony Volpe is with Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo at Yankee Stadium.

For Judge, this is about more than just the here and now; it’s about Anthony Volpe’s entire life.

“If he’s going to be the future and be the shortstop here for the next 15 years,” Judge said, “you’ve got to have him up here now and just kind of getting used to it.”

Judge will soon turn 31 years old. When he was of Anthony Volpe’s age, he was finishing up his third and final year of college.

“If I was trying to put myself in his shoes,” Judge said, “trying to compete at the major-league level, my eyes would have been wide, I would have been getting overmatched. It would have been a little frustrating.”

Judge draws on experience to help Anthony Volpe

No one gave Judge a new set of road trip outfits when he got brought up to the major leagues for the first time in 2016. In truth, the Yankees were going through an unusual transition at the time. They were still in the race for a playoff spot despite trading away top relievers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller as well as designated hitter Carlos Beltrán. On the same day that Judge made his Yankees debut, Alex Rodriguez was released. But Brett Gardner, an outfielder, quickly became a role model for Judge. When Judge, who is 6-foot-7 and 282 pounds, was having problems maintaining his anonymity while sleeping in a hotel in midtown Manhattan, he even encouraged him to reside at his estate in upstate New York.

Anthony Volpe is with Aaron Judge at Yankee Stadium.

Judge reflected on his past and current relationship with Anthony Volpe.

“I just want him to feel comfortable,” Judge said. “Talking to all of his other teammates in spring training, including the minor leagues, they’ve all said great things about him. So in my eyes, I want to get what they’ve seen from him in the past couple of years. I’ve got to get close with him. I’ve got to get to know him. I’ve got to make him feel welcome. I’ve got to do whatever I can and be a resource he can lean on and confide in — anything. It’s part of it. This is a team. We’re all in this together.”

Anthony Volpe has stated that he wants to help future players as much as Judge and Rizzo helped him.

“Hopefully I’ll have that type of career they’ve had,” Anthony Volpe said, “but if I was ever in that position, I’d definitely want to pay those guys back for what they’ve done for me.”

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