FORT MYERS, Fla. – Aaron Judge wasn’t here to weigh in on the subject. So it was left to Aaron Boone to address a form of this somewhat silly question: Did Judge help spur the Red Sox to victory in last October’s ALDS?
After the Yankees’ 6-2 victory in Game 2 evened the series at 1-1, Judge turned up the volume of his boom box -- which happened to be playing “New York, New York” -- as he walked past the Boston clubhouse at Fenway.
It unquestionably was a playful troll job by Judge, but problems exist in the simplistic narrative that has persisted since then.
By the time Judge strolled past the Red Sox clubhouse, it was well after the game, meaning the home clubhouse would have been virtually empty. Even if the clubhouse had been full, Judge could have set off explosives where he was walking and players inside would not have been able to hear it, given the walkway’s distance from the clubhouse and the thickness of the ancient brick and concrete walls.
And then there’s this, which Boone addressed before Saturday’s 8-5 exhibition loss to Boston at JetBlue Park: After posting a franchise-record 108 victories in the regular season and knowing that a loss to their blood rival would have essentially invalidated that achievement in the eyes of their fans, were the Red Sox really in need of motivation?
“I think it was a little more coincidental than people might think,” Boone said of the Red Sox winning Games 3 (16-1) and 4 (4-3) at the Stadium to capture the series. “A little less intentional than people might think. No. These two teams between the lines is where it’s happening. Neither team needs a little egging on or motivation.”
On the clock
Saturday’s game included the 20-second pitch clock that MLB would like to see implemented for the upcoming season. There was nothing noticeable about it, at least from the Yankees’ perspective.
“I was paying attention to it a little in the first inning, then I didn’t notice,” Boone said. “My guess is once guys get used to it, I don’t think it’s going to affect too many people.”
Aiming for greatness
Gleyber Torres, coming off a rookie season in which he hit 24 home runs, homered in his first at-bat of spring training. He blasted a 1-and-2 breaking ball to dead center in the first inning to make it 1-0.
Boone has praised the 22-year-old's work ethic, saying he doesn’t want to be good, he “wants to be great,” and Torres echoed that idea after Saturday's game.
“Last year was a great year, I’m proud of that,” he said. “But my goal this year is to be better. Last year is past. I just want to be great.”
Aaron Hicks, who posted a career high in homers (27), RBIs (79), extra-base hits (48) and runs (90), among other categories, in 137 games last season, had an RBI double and threw out a runner at third.
“I think Aaron Hicks is maybe the most underrated player in the game,” Boone said. “He’s such a valuable player. Playing a premium position, center, and as good as our guys control the strike zone, he’s probably the poster child. And the ability to hit for power from both sides, the athleticism and speed he brings. He’s a really complete player.”
Hicks seemed sheepish when asked to respond to that, but he was very much in on discussing how last season ended.
Asked how long it took him to get over the ALDS loss, Hicks said: “I’m still not over it. I’m not over it until we win [a World Series].”