Boone hints at strategic Yankees fluidity to maximize Judge-Soto combo
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Yankees enthusiasts can gear up for the upcoming Opening Day, as manager Aaron Boone tantalizingly hinted at potential changes in the batting order, putting the spotlight squarely on the formidable pairing of Aaron Judge and Juan Soto.
Boone is currently inclined toward placing Soto in the second spot and Judge in the third, although the duo’s positions may interchange based on the leadoff and cleanup hitters. The primary objective is to have Judge and Soto bat consecutively as frequently as possible, aiming to maximize their collective slugging power for the Yankees.
Boone’s Yankees lineup plan to become flexible, adaptable
The leadoff role is likely to be taken up by LeMahieu, given Boone’s admiration for his strong performance in the late stages of the previous season. Other Yankees contenders include the newly acquired Alex Verdugo and the resurgent Gleyber Torres. Boone emphasized the depth and flexibility in the top order, assuring fans of lineup adjustments based on matchups and players in good form.
Discussions about the Yankees outfield configuration also took center stage. Boone affirmed his plan to prioritize Judge in center field, leveraging his defensive prowess while carefully managing playing time. This approach opens opportunities for the stellar defender Trent Grisham to share the outfield with Judge, possibly with Judge occasionally taking on designated hitter responsibilities. The Yankees manager addressed concerns about Judge’s durability in the center, citing his healthiest season in 2022, during which he spent a significant amount of time in that position.
Introducing an element of intrigue, Boone disclosed ongoing talks with Judge regarding the possibility of him playing left field on specific days, creating a tandem with Grisham – an idea that the Yankees captain is open to.
However, the key theme remains fluidity. The potential arrival of phenom Jasson Domínguez later in the season could introduce further changes, but the Yankees plan to approach his return after Tommy John surgery with caution.
One thing is certain: Boone is excited about the depth at his disposal and expresses confidence in the Yankees’ ability to navigate any challenges posed by injuries. Anticipate a dynamic and strategic lineup, with Boone skillfully constructing a championship-caliber unit, culminating in the highly anticipated first back-to-back appearance of Judge and Soto in the season.
Boone’s love for Rodon
When questioned about pitcher Carlos Rodón, Boone shared an optimistic update on the southpaw, echoing similar sentiments expressed by general manager Brian Cashman in his recent Zoom call with the press.
The Yankees manager expressed his genuine belief that Carlos has had a stellar offseason, highlighting his excellent physical condition and impressive pitching performances. According to Boone, Carlos already looks impressive in terms of his delivery.
Rodón’s inaugural season with the Yankees, following his lucrative six-year, $162 million deal, was marred by injuries and subpar performance. Boone underscored that Rodón faced challenges throughout 2023 due to arm and back injuries in spring training, and staying healthy will be crucial for him to rediscover his ace-level capabilities.
Boone stressed that the primary focus is on the player’s consistency in making appearances. He emphasized the importance of the player consistently taking the mound, addressing the necessary physical aspects to ensure regular outings. The Yankees skipper expressed confidence that handling these aspects, coupled with the player’s exceptional talent and quality stuff, will yield positive results over time. According to Boone, the key lies in managing all the other factors that contribute to the player’s performance on a consistent basis, whether it’s every fifth or sixth day.
Adjusting the stance on bunting
A previous statement made by owner Hal Steinbrenner earlier in the offseason received criticism from baseball enthusiasts, and Boone thinks it was misunderstood.
In his end-of-season press conference in November, Steinbrenner remarked that the Yankees weren’t incorporating bunting enough, and Boone clarified on Friday that this comment was taken out of context. Boone clarified that he aims for the Yankees to be more adept at bunting in specific scenarios, such as extra innings. For instance, if the visiting team fails to score in the top of the 10th inning, Boone believes the home team should be willing to utilize the bunt to advance the automatic runner (and, in this case, the potential winning run) from second base.
Boone clarified that the team’s overall use of the bunt is not expected to be extensive. He expressed the desire for several players to possess bunting skills, especially for situations like leading off an inning or when the team needs to secure a base runner. The Yankees manager sees the ability to deploy the bunt in these particular scenarios as beneficial for the players, offering diverse strategic options. Nevertheless, he emphasized that, in general, he doesn’t foresee the team heavily relying on bunting.
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