Captain Aaron Judge relishes his training debut at Tampa
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Sunday was the Day 2 of the Yankees spring training and the afternoon saw the debut of Captain Aaron Judge in pinstripes. The Yankees’ new captain jogged out of the home dugout to join his teammates on the first-base line amid roaring cheers at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
While the Yankees’ 16th captain looked great in a set of crisp white pinstripes, the announcement thundered, “Aaron Judge, No. 99, will bat second and play right field.” The crowd of 9,776 cheered more loudly.
Aaron Judge later told Yes Network in an interview that he was happy:
“Hearing your name get called for the New York Yankees never gets old,” Judge said. “If it’s in Tampa if it’s in New York, that’s something I didn’t want to stop hearing once I became a free agent. I was hoping to hear those words again. It was an exciting moment.”
“I felt it with the intros, I felt it on defense, I felt it stepping up to the plate,” he said. “It’s things like that you really cherish as a ballplayer.”
Aaron Judge, the new Yankees captain, made his spring debut in front of a cheering crowd at Steinbrenner Field after returning for a $360-million deal. He hit a hard infield single down the third-base line in the first inning and then walked on a full count in the second. His day was over after four innings. The Yankees beat the Braves by a score of 7-0.
It was Aaron Judge’s first game as the Yankees captain, which was vacant after Derek Jeter stepped down at the end of the 2014 season. Judge hit .311 and tied for the most RBIs in the major leagues with 131 in 2023. He also hit 62 home runs, breaking Roger Maris’ AL record.
There were also audible “oohs” every time Aaron Judge took a good swing and hit a pitch as if the crowd was just waiting for him to hit another home run on every swing.
Aaron Boone, the manager of the Yankees, made sure that Aaron Judge’s name was in the starting lineup for the game at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, which was sold out.
Even Aaron Judge’s opponent, Brian Snitker, who won the World Series in 2021, made sure to be on the field during batting practice to introduce himself. This was a very nice thing for Snitker to do for Judge.
Aaron Judge came face to face with new rules
Aaron Judge also got to try out some of the new MLB rules for the first time, like the pitch clock, limited shifts, and bigger bases, and he liked them. He likes playing behind fast-moving pitchers, but he also thinks that the pitch clock can be good for batters.
“I like it,” he said. “I think you can play around with it a little bit. It definitely speeds up the game. Anything that keeps the pitcher moving and on the go and hopefully keeps them out of breath, I’m looking forward to.”
The Yankees also took advantage of the lack of extreme shifts in the first inning of Sunday’s game, which lasted 2 hours and 16 minutes. Gleyber Torres started the game with a single up the middle, which in years past might have gone right to an infielder. Aaron Judge then hit an infield single.
Then, Aaron Hicks hit a ball through the right side that a second baseman in shallow right field would have probably caught. Instead, it allowed Jose Trevino to load the base and then he hit a grand slam to give the Yankees a quick 4-0 lead.
“I think it’s going to be great action,” Aaron Judge said. “You’re going to see some athletic plays on defense where before, that ball’s just hit right at the second baseman and he’s throwing it to second or first. I’m looking forward to it. More hits, more athletic plays, it’s just better for the game.”
Even louder cheers are sure to come on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium when the Giants are in the visiting dugout, but Aaron Judge got a taste of what was to come when fans showered him with love on Sunday.
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