TAMPA, Fla. — Aaron Judge engaged in plenty of can-you-top-this banter with teammates in the batting cage last season.
It certainly won’t be any different now that Giancarlo Stanton is a Yankee.
“There’s always some of that, even with the guys we had before,” Judge said Sunday. “Me and Gary [Sanchez] would do it a little bit. Just having some fun. We’ll usually have one round where we’re all kind of seeing how far we can all hit it. There will be some back-and-forth.”
The best show of the Grapefruit League season figures to be when Stanton, who hit 59 homers last year to lead the National League, and Judge, who led the American League with a rookie-record 52 homers, hit together in the same batting practice group.
Judge, who has been held back a bit thus far because of arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder Nov. 21, said the plan is for him to take a full batting-practice session Monday, the first workout day for the entire squad.
“I’m supposed to be full-go on the field,” Judge said.
So will he hit in the same group as Stanton?
Aaron Boone smiled.
“We’ll see,” he said.
With plenty of media expected and the potential visual of Judge and Stanton clubbing bomb after bomb — creating the kind of spectacle the franchise typically enjoys — expect it to happen.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Judge said.
When the exhibition games do start, Yankees fans are sure to benefit from the franchise’s decision to open the Steinbrenner Field gates three hours before first pitch so they can see the Yankees take BP, a change from previous years.
“It’s good for the fans. It’ll be good for the kids, too,” Judge said. “I know a lot of kids like to come out and watch some guys hit some home runs. It’ll be a good opportunity for that.”
Of more immediate concern for Judge, of course, is the shoulder that has relegated him to cage work to this point. Boone has said Judge will miss at least the “first several” exhibition games and will be limited in workouts.
Judge, who said he is “full-go” in the weight room now — an improvement over a couple of weeks ago, when he couldn’t do “any overhead movements” — is on board with the precautions.
“I understand it,” he said. “These games and this process right here doesn’t matter. What’s important is being ready for Opening Day. So if I take a couple days here slow and miss a couple games or miss some activities, I don’t mind that. I’d rather not miss any [regular-season] games.”
Judge enters this spring training secure with a job, unlike a year ago, when he was pitted against Aaron Hicks in a battle to become the starting rightfielder, a competition he won in the final days of camp.
Nonetheless . . .
“You’re always still trying to win a job. That’s everybody’s mindset coming in here,” Judge said. “I still have to fight for a job and earn my spot just like everybody else.”
Boone has said the plan is for Judge and Stanton to share time in rightfield and get some occasional time in left. There also will be plenty of DH days, with Sanchez also being in that mix.
While saying “I always love playing defense,” the 6-7, 282-pound Judge said he and the 6-6, 245-pound Stanton will benefit from their days at DH.
“That’s what I’m excited about is just keeping us fresh so that when you come to October, we’re not as beat down as we usually are,” Judge said. “I’m looking forward to the little rotation we’ll have. It will be beneficial to everybody.”