Who’s My Right Fielder?
Aaron Judge did not receive the nod from Joe Girardi that he would be the Yankees starting right fielder until the final weekend of Spring Training. This was not an accident, and it would appear that Girardi felt it necessary that Judge wins the job instead of handing it to him.
As part of that design, Aaron Hicks was put out there as the main competition for Judge. Hicks proved to be no pushover and coupled with the fact that Girardi, and for that matter the organization as a whole, has a particular liking for Hicks put the pressure squarely on the shoulders of Judge to perform.
The Yankees, both publicly and privately, told Judge that if he wants to have a career with the Yankees, he needs to cut down on his number of strikeouts and be more selective on the pitches he swings at.
For his part, Girardi let the competition play itself out and was cautious in showing his hand throughout the preseason. And, it worked.
Judge modestly cut down on his strikeouts and put a dent in the scoreboard at Steinbrenner Field that is still there today with a monstrous blast that had everyone shaking their heads in wonderment.
During its telecast Sunday Night, ESPN labeled Judge as the tallest/heaviest position player to have ever played the game. They can’t be far off if it isn’t true, but Judge is now living up to the standards expected and hoped of him, drawing fans everywhere to watch him in batting practice.
Tales and comparisons to the likes of Giancarlo Stanton come from everywhere, but so far Judge is managing to keep it all in perspective.
And the credit for that has to go to Girardi, who took a piece a raw material and continues to mold and refine it into a player who is poised to be the Yankees right fielder for many years to come. In another time, Girardi may have gone with his instincts to the veteran player in Hicks.
But not this time. And the Yankees are better for it.