TAMPA, Fla. — The Orioles still haven’t figured out how to pitch to Aaron Judge.
The rightfielder hammered Orioles pitching all of last season, hitting .426/.588/1.049 with 11 HRs, 24 RBIs, 31 runs, five doubles and 24 walks. Wednesday night Judge, who came into the game hitting .242 but with a .500 OBP this spring and one homer, hit two in the Yankees’ 9-4 victory. Judge walked in his first two at-bats and finished 2-for-3.
“It’s getting there,” Judge said afterward of his timing, which he’s felt has been off much of the spring. “Just want to make sure I’m peaking at Opening Day. It’s still all about swinging at the right pitches, working the counts. If I’m swinging at the right pitches, working the counts, taking good swings, I’ll be happy with it.”
Judge sent a full-count fastball away from LHP Jason Gurka over the wall in right in the fourth inning, and drove a 1-and-1 changeup from lefty Nestor Cortes Jr. to left-center in the eighth. Judge’s first homer of the spring came March 11 against the Marlins in Jupiter. Judge was held out of the first five games of the spring, brought along slowly because of arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder.
“We’re making up that lost time,” Judge said.
Before Wednesday night’s game, the Yankees optioned INF/OF Tyler Austin, RHP Giovanny Gallegos, RHP Ben Heller and OF Billy McKinney to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Heller was among the candidates to be the 13th pitcher, if the Yankees choose to go that way with their 25-man roster out of camp. RHP Luis Cessa, who started Wednesday and allowed three runs and four hits over four innings, is also among the candidates, as are RHPs Domingo German and Jonathan Holder. Holder helped his cause Wednesday with two scoreless innings, in which he allowed one hit. Boone said he hopes to have all roster decisions made by Saturday.