TAMPA, Fla. — Aaron Judge smiled but declined to touch the topic.
Aaron Boone pretty much did the same.
The Yankees are scheduled to play their second exhibition game Monday at Steinbrenner Field against the Tigers, who are managed by AJ Hinch.
Hinch, as few Yankees fans need reminding, is coming off a year-long suspension for his involvement in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, which ultimately cost him his job as Houston’s manager.
The Yankees, who lost to the Astros in seven games in the 2017 ALCS and in six games in the 2019 ALCS, were among the most vocal in ripping the Astros in spring training last year, Boone included.
"I’ve talked to AJ. I’ve talked to him in the last several weeks," said Boone, who has long counted Hinch as a friend. "I don’t know how much interaction we’ll have across the field or anything, but I don’t expect there to be much ado about it."
Judge, who a year ago suggested the Astros should be stripped of the title they won in 2017 — "I just don’t think it holds any value. You cheated, and you didn’t earn it," he said in February 2020 — smiled when asked about Hinch and if he will have anything to say to him.
"Tomorrow I have the day off, so I don’t think with COVID protocols we’re supposed to be out on the field, so I think I’ll be missing that one," Judge said.
Boone, like many of his players, was critical of the Astros in spring training last year but said that was enough.
"We spoke about this at length last year and dealt with it," he said. "I think you got me and several people on the record about our feelings toward it. I’ve beyond moved on from it. Our focus is on getting ready to hopefully go out and play in a championship season. That’s the extent of it. Not going to get caught up in looking back from a couple of years ago, and this guy and that guy. I’ve very much moved on.’’
For his part, Hinch isn’t dodging his past. Or sweating it.
"I’ll just address it directly, like I have. It is part of my past, and I’m keeping the Tigers out of it. It has nothing to do with the Detroit Tigers," he said on Zoom late Sunday afternoon. "I understand it’s personal with me, but I’ll handle it.
"I highlighted my name for making the trip [Monday]. We’re all going to go over there [to Tampa]. And I’m not going to do anything different than I’ve done in answering these questions or addressing it and apologizing and moving forward.
"Certainly, I’m not going to tell people how to believe or what to believe. But I continue to be sorry that it was part of the game and the wrong things that we did, and then get to focusing on the Tigers."