TAMPA, Fla. — Troy Tulowitzki’s spring training couldn’t have started much better.
The shortstop, signed to a league-minimum contract ($550,000) by the Yankees in the offseason after missing all of last year following surgery to remove bone spurs from both heels, has moved well in the field and more than held his own at the plate.
Tulowitzki, who homered in his first at-bat of spring training Monday against the Blue Jays — the team that released him in December despite owing him $38 million — hit a three-run homer in the first inning of Thursday’s 8-6 victory over the Pirates.
“More than that [the homers], the way he’s moving in the field,” Aaron Boone said. “It’s great to get some early results and get some homers out of the gate. But I’m probably more excited about how he’s moving in the field and how he’s attacking the ball and playing free and easy. He looks really athletic out there. I think that’s the thing I’m even more excited about.”
Tulowitzki, who played a total of 66 games the last two seasons, is happy with all of it.
“Only two games, I need to be out there more, but I’ll take it,” he said. “Just having fun, man. It’s been a long road for me, so every time I step out on the field, I don’t take it for granted. I try to enjoy every moment.”
J.A. Happ made his first start and allowed three hits in 1 1⁄3 innings, including two homers.
“Felt good about throwing strikes, but obviously execution wasn’t as fine as I’d like,” he said. “Have to remember it’s your first time out, but doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
Greg Bird, competing with Luke Voit for the starting job at first base, went 2-for-3 with a double and is off to a 5-for-8 start . . . Gary Sanchez, whom the Yankees have been cautious with after offseason surgery on his left shoulder, will make his exhibition debut Friday night against Baltimore . . . Aaron Judge doubled in his first at-bat. He’s 2-for-5 with two doubles . . . Tyler Wade went 1-for-2 with a homer and is 5-for-8, including three doubles, in four games . . . Nets general manager Sean Marks, a friend of Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, sat next to Boone on the field during the game.