LAKELAND, Fla. — Aaron Judge played five innings in leftfield in a Class A exhibition game in Tampa on Saturday and caught the only ball hit his way.
It was Judge’s first appearance in leftfield. Giancarlo Stanton has played left in six exhibition games, and after a pair of sun-soaked misadventures in his debut, has been fine since.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he doesn’t know if Judge will play in a real exhibition game in left before the club breaks camp. At this point, it’s more likely that Stanton will spend time in left during the regular season if Brett Gardner needs a day off, especially if fifth outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury begins the season on the disabled list.
“I don’t want to have to move both of them if I can,” Boone said of Judge and Stanton. “But in both cases, I need to prepare them both for that extreme situation or if something comes up, obviously. But ideally I’d like to not move them both.”
Ellsbury (oblique strain) might get into a game in Lakeland early this week, Boone said. “If all goes well again, the plan is he’ll probably get some simulated at-bats and possibly be getting into a game here on Tuesday,” Boone said. “But again, that’s fluid and it’ll be based on how he continues to respond.”
If Ellsbury is not ready for Opening Day, Boone said the Yankees won’t necessarily replace him with another position player. They could take a 13th pitcher.
That’s not good news for first baseman Tyler Austin, who is having a strong spring training. Austin is batting .269 with four home runs, but there might not be room for him on the roster.
Clint Frazier (concussion) is improving, Boone said.
“Today he came in and already met with the doctor,” he said. “More improvement today. So we’ll gradually up his [activity]. He’s not going to hit yet.”