Tampa, Fla. — The Yankees believe that more runs in the field will help Giancarlo Stanton play to his potential this season. Aaron Judge has a suggestion on how to achieve this.
“I mentioned it to them about, ‘If we need to get the Big G in right field at Yankee Stadium, put me left,’” Judge said. “I don’t mind that. I don’t mind switching so we can have me, [center fielder Harrison Bader] And Big G is there. We’ll get some reps, hopefully, in spring training and feel good there.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said there is no specific plan to start playing judge in left field, though Boone concedes that the concept is “on the table.” Like Boone, Stanton believed he would benefit from semi-regular service in the outfield.
“I think I flow more when I’m an outfielder,” said Stanton. Being an outfielder, you are more involved in the game [as the] DH, you’re more often than not staying warm and hitting, kind of watching the game from TV.”
Stanton played right field during his best season in 2017 with the Marlins, when he walked the Majors with 59 homers and 132 RBIs while winning National League Most Valuable Player honors. He has served primarily as a designated hitter since then, including 65 starts last season, for 38 in the outfield (34 in right field and four in left field).
“It will continue to be the same as it was last year,” Stanton said. “I collided with a [left Achilles] injury there [in July]but you have to build a similar game plan and see what we can achieve, and put us in the best winning scenario every night – wherever that is in the lineup.”
Judge said, “I know he wants to be a good player. He’s good out there.”
Boone said he’d prefer Stanton not play the more spacious left field at Yankee Stadium, though having Stanton patrol smaller left field such as Fenway Park in Boston and Minute Maid Park in Houston would be a consideration. Out of necessity, Stanton started two games at left during last year’s American League Championship Series.
“I’m open to things like that, especially on center court,” Boone said. “So we’ll see. It’s something I would say I’m at least thinking about, and we’ll just see how it goes in letting this go and getting guys reps in different locations. So no decision on that yet, but it’s something that’s on my board.”
The Yankees appeared to be entering the spring with a left field contest between switch hitters Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Cabrera, with general manager Brian Cashman saying he suspected Hicks would eventually win the starting role.
But the judge’s suggestion may upset the mix. More starts in the infield could clear up time in Josh Donaldson’s DH role, for example, which could help mitigate the crowded mix in the infield. Last year’s All-Star Game MVP, Stanton slumped in the second half, finishing the season with a . 211/. 294/. 462 slant streak while hitting 31 homers and 78 RBIs in 110 games.
“I don’t know if it’s 59 [homers] There is, but I know a mid-ranking All-Star wrecking ball is out there if he’s healthy,” Boone said. “The bigger thing is as much as we can keep him posted all the time, he can post huge numbers. There is definitely still. It’s just a matter of getting him to post 140 times or whatever.”
Stanton has played in 290 of a possible 546 regular season games since the start of the 2019 season.
“I believe he plays the field, I think it’s good for his game, but I also think it’s good for his health,” said Boone. “I think it’s nice that when he’s healthy, he’s not just DH. I feel like if you’re going to squat or bench press or run a marathon, you don’t just sit there and don’t do it. You have to work on those things.”
Judge played 78 games at center field and 73 games in right field last season, but he never appeared in left field as a senior. He suited up there for seven games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2016, and his last regular run at the position came during his freshman season at Fresno State University.
“The only way you can really test things out is by throwing yourself out there,” Judge said. “I hope to get two games there.”
“Prone to fits of apathy. Introvert. Award-winning internet evangelist. Extreme beer expert.”