Yankees' Anthony Volpe, right, celebrates with Austin Wells after hitting...

Yankees' Anthony Volpe, right, celebrates with Austin Wells after hitting a solo home run against the Houston Astros during the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Houston. Credit: AP/Kevin M. Cox

PHOENIX — Anthony Volpe has looked, in the words of Aaron Boone, like “a different guy” at the plate this season.

And in the manager’s eyes, it started in early January when he watched the shortstop take a round of batting practice at the club’s minor-league complex.

“I can picture walking over there and seeing him in the cage, right away seeing a different kind of path,” Boone said recently. “You saw the adjustment that he worked on all winter right away in the cage.”

Different guy indeed.

After going 4-for-4 with an RBI in the Yankees’ fifth straight victory to open the season, the 22-year-old Volpe was 8-for-14 (.571) with one homer, three doubles and a 1.667 OPS going into Tuesday night’s game against the Diamondbacks.

And, as Boone mentioned, the changes were evident early.

Evident to rival scouts, many of whom saw Volpe’s career in the minors and then watched him last year, too.

“This is the guy I saw [in the minors],’’ one such scout, who works for a rival AL team, said a couple of weeks into spring training. “I didn’t recognize the guy at the plate last year, trying to pull the ball 450 feet. Seems like he’s getting back to who he is.”

Although he won the American League Gold Glove at short last season and hit 21 home runs as a rookie — not an insignificant output for any player, let alone a rookie — Volpe was more or less embarrassed by his overall work at the plate.

Volpe, mostly a hit-to-all-fields, put-the-ball-in-play hitter throughout his quick climb through the minors, didn’t resemble that player in 2023.

Caught up — though Volpe would never say it — in former hitting coach Dillon Lawson’s “Hit Dingers” philosophy, the rookie became a whiff machine in the majors, hitting .209 with a .283 on-base percentage. Volpe struck out 167 times in 601 plate appearances.

But Volpe came out in the spring hitting ground smashes and line drives every which way, and it’s carried over into the regular season.

Monday night, for instance, he roped a double to center in the second inning, singled sharply to center in the third, lined a single to center in the fifth and launched a double to left in the eighth.

“More control of his swing and body,” a second AL scout said Tuesday of Volpe. “He had sold out last year chasing power.”

Added an NL scout assigned to the Yankees: “[Last year] the swing was an uphill path. It’s so much flatter now. I saw like three ABs [in the spring] and was like, ‘Yup, OK, this guy is gonna hit this year.’ ”

Volpe, who heading into Tuesday night had struck out three times in 18 plate appearances, has spoken in general terms about the alterations. There have been some mechanical tweaks, such as a more balanced foundation and not resting on his back foot as much in pursuit of a “flatter” bat path. But, as scouts have observed, the difference is as much approach-based as anything. A player getting back to who he’s generally been.

(And, as a side note it has nothing to do with chicken parm dishes, a silly narrative from late June last season when Volpe experienced one of his few prolonged positive stretches at the plate. And, though the unfailingly amiable and polite Volpe would never say so, his meal from the off-day preceding that stretch becoming public likely, if provided truth serum, is one of the great regrets of his young life.)

“He’s worked really hard this offseason and this spring to tighten up some of the things he wanted to tighten up, and it’s showing right off the bat,” said catcher Austin Wells, one of Volpe’s closest friends on the team. “Just his work ethic and what’s he’s able to do when he’s given time to make adjustments . . . for him to have success right away is super awesome and he’s going to continue to have it.”

Added Boone: “I’ve said it before, I just think he’s a way better hitter. Results can be fleeting, especially this time of the year, but the fact he’s getting results and the quality of each at-bat, it’s been impressive. We all felt like he’s going to get there, it [was] just a matter of when.”

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