Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge stands with owner Hal Steinbrenner at...

Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge stands with owner Hal Steinbrenner at a press conference at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 21, 2022. Credit: Corey Sipkin

TAMPA, Fla. — Hal Steinbrenner, looking for a read on Anthony Volpe and how the touted shortstop prospect was handling things in his first big-league spring training, went right to the top.

No, not to general manager Brian Cashman or to manager Aaron Boone.

He went to Aaron Judge.

And the outfielder, named by Steinbrenner as the franchise’s 16th captain in December after securing the free-agent outfielder with a nine-year, $360 million contract, offered his thoughts.

“He’s a great kid,” Steinbrenner said of Volpe. “And I’ve heard from other players, including Judge, that he conducts himself in a very professional way for somebody his age. And that’s good because he’s going to need all of that to play where we play [New York].”

How exactly did the topic come up?

“I asked Judge. Judge and I, we’ve got a good relationship. I ask him about a lot of things,” Steinbrenner said, making his first public comments of the spring to the media. “We’re getting ready to look at some renovations of the stadium [Steinbrenner Field], he’s involved with that. But, yes, I ask him about different players and, obviously that’s [young players such as Volpe] going to be one of the topics, among others.”

Indeed, nothing perhaps is more indicative of Judge’s organizational standing than the fact the owner now picks his brain regarding, as Steinbrenner said, “a lot of things.”

George M. Steinbrenner Field, named for Hal’s famous father, is far from antiquated but newer spring training complexes have popped up across Florida — the Astros, Nationals, Blue Jays and Atlanta have all either moved or significantly upgraded in recent years, for example. But it’s become apparent what’s colloquially known as GMS could use some work.

“I think the concern was we’re kind of falling behind a lot of other teams that have newer facilities, obviously, like Toronto,” Steinbrenner said of the talks with Judge relating to the Yankees’ spring training home. “I’m not one that ever wants to be second-rate. This organization never strives for that, obviously, so we’re going to keep up with everybody else. And that’s kind of the idea. We’re going to figure out ways to create space and maybe [add] an additional structure or two . . .  there’s a lot of things we could do better.”

Steinbrenner, in a nearly 20-minute meeting with reporters Wednesday, touched on a variety of subjects. Not surprisingly, the one most frequently covered with manager Aaron Boone — the shortstop battle between Volpe and Oswald Peraza, another top prospect — spawned the most questions for Steinbrenner.

“I remember standing right here a year ago and we were talking about Correa,” Steinbrenner said, referencing the questions he received about not pursuing Carlos Correa on the free-agent market. “And I talked about Peraza and I talked about Volpe and I said, ‘Look they’re going to be the middle of our infield for many years to come if all goes well.’ And they both had great years in the minor leagues, so we’re getting closer.”

Peraza, 22, debuted late last season and acquitted himself well in the field and at the plate — he started two of the four games in the ALCS loss to the Astros. He entered camp as the favorite to win the job and probably remains the favorite. But only slightly.

Volpe, 21, has done about everything right — on and off the field — in his first big-league camp. After going 1-for-2 with two walks in Wednesday’s 9-8 victory over the Phillies, Volpe is 10-for-30 (.333) with two homers, four doubles and a 1.126 OPS in 11 games.

Though he has limited experience in Triple-A (22 games), Volpe isn’t lacking in supporters within the organization who believe he can handle the job, a number that has grown this spring.

“My thing has always been if you’re the best player, it shouldn’t matter your age,” Judge said recently, asked his general philosophy regarding a player so young and with such little experience in Triple-A being fast tracked to the majors. (It is important to note he was not outright advocating for Volpe.). “If you’re 19 or if you’re 41, if you’re the best guy for the job, you should be playing.”

For Steinbrenner, who will be part of what will be a collaborative decision-making process regarding the job at short, the respective performances of Volpe, Peraza, Oswaldo Cabrera and Jasson Dominguez — aka “The Martian” — have been the highlight of the spring.

“It’s exciting for me personally because I’ve followed these kids for years,” Steinbrenner said. “I’m over at the Gulf Coast League games, a lot of them, when they’re first starting out, and all the way through their journey. So for me, it’s always exciting, particularly when it’s somebody’s first spring training, like Volpe, that they perform and they perform well and that they impress guys like Judge, which is what they’re doing.”

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