TAMPA, Fla. – The Blue Jays used a four-man outfield against Aaron Judge in the first inning on Saturday. So Judge just hit one where they ain’t – way over the leftfield wall and into the parking lot.
“That works,” Judge said. “That’s one way to beat it.”
He added, “I was just confused. I didn’t even know what was going on until after [the first at-bat] because I just saw two guys in the gap in my peripherals. I was like, ‘Well, I guess the centerfielder must be in the middle and those guys must be playing the gaps pretty tight.’ It was a little different to see.”
In Judge's second at-bat in the Yankees' 17-7 victory at Steinbrenner Field, the Blue Jays used a traditional alignment with a man on base. Judge, who went 1-for-2, is 10-for-30 with six home runs and four doubles. He has a 1.479 OPS.
The Blue Jays also used a four-man outfield twice against Greg Bird. He walked both times.
Under rookie manager Charlie Montoyo, the Blue Jays also have used a four-man outfield against the Phillies' Bryce Harper. The Rays have used one against the Jays' Justin Smoak and Billy McKinney and the Orioles’ Chris Davis. The Reds have used one against the Cubs' Kris Bryant, who called “it kind of a compliment.”
The Cubs, who are managed by former Rays skipper Joe Maddon, deployed a four-man outfield during the 2018 regular season against the Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter. The Astros used it against Rangers slugger Joey Gallo.
When asked if the Yankees have a four-man outfield in their bag of tricks, manager Aaron Boone said, “I’ll never say never.”
Boone did say the thought of using a five-man infield with extreme ground-ball pitcher Zack Britton on the mound has come up.
The Yankees hit six home runs Saturday, including a two-run shot by Gleyber Torres and four by minor-leaguers. They have scored 31 runs in the last two games.
Toronto hit three home runs, including two off Yankees starter J.A. Happ, who allowed three runs in three innings.
Jacoby Ellsbury is expected to report to Steinbrenner Field on Sunday morning and go through his physical.
Ellsbury, 35, missed last season with multiple injuries. He had surgery last August to repair a torn labrum in his left hip and was allowed to report late to spring training because of a case of plantar fasciitis. Ellsbury is owed a guaranteed $47.2 million in salary for this season and next (that total includes a $5-million buyout for 2022).
“He should be here sometime in the morning,” Boone said. “And he’ll have to roll through his physical stuff and all that.”
Boone said Ellsbury is not expected to appear in a spring training game.
“We’ll start getting him going with baseball activities,” Boone said. “We’ll kind of see where he’s at. Try and develop a plan as best we can.”
Big engagement for this J-Lo
Jonathan Loaisiga will make his fifth appearance and fourth start of spring training in a split-squad game against the Orioles in Sarasota on Sunday.
With Luis Severino and CC Sabathia slated to begin the season on the injured list, Loaisiga is batting fellow young righthanders Luis Cessa and Domingo German for two open rotation spots. Loaisiga comes into the game with a 10.00 ERA, although Boone said he has pitched better than that.
Cessa has an 0.69 ERA in four outings (three starts) and German is at 1.54 in four games (two starts).
The Yankees have high hopes for that trio, which is one of the reasons general manager Brian Cashman said he has not added a veteran starter during spring training despite the injury status of Severino and Sabathia. Boone agrees.
“We feel really good about what’s in house here,” Boone said. “We talk about those three guys – Lo, Cessa and German – I feel like have all come in here and certainly met the expectations and the hope that we had for them coming in from the winter. They’ve put their best foot forward, I feel, from day one. Whether it’s perfect or whatever, I feel like they’re all better pitchers and further along than they were last year, when they were real contributors. So I feel really good about those three.”
Sabathia threw a simulated game Saturday and is built up enough that he could make his spring training debut soon. But with the Yankees traveling to the east coast of Florida for a pair of games Wednesday and Thursday, the team might prefer to give him another simulated game to keep him in Tampa. Boone said Sabathia is on schedule to rejoin the rotation about two weeks into the season.
The Yankees named righthander Michael King and infielder Brandon Wagner their 2018 minor league pitcher and player of the year and honored them before the game.
King, 23, went 11-5 with a 1.79 ERA combined at three levels, culminating at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. King currently is out with a stress reaction in his right elbow.
Wagner, 23, had a .267/.380/.461 slash line, 21 homers and 67 RBIs combined at Class A Tampa and Double-A Trenton.
Not gettin’ Higgy with it
The Yankees sent catcher Kyle Higashioka to the minor-league camp.