Judge Watch: Boone moves Yankees slugger to DH as he attempts No. 61 homer
TORONTO — With the American League East title in the bag, Yankees manager Aaron Boone has more flexibility to tinker with his roster and rest players ahead of the playoffs. Some of his regulars had a night off Wednesday against Toronto.
TORONTO — With the American League East title in the bag, Yankees manager Aaron Boone has more flexibility to tinker with his roster and rest players ahead of the playoffs.
Some of his regulars had a night off Wednesday against Toronto. Much to the delight of fans hoping baseball history will be made at the Rogers Center, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was not among them.
Judge was named the designated hitter for the series finale as he continued his pursuit of the American League single-season record of 61 homers.
« Look, we all want him to get there, » Boone said before the game. « We don’t want to make excessive noise around it. There’s a lot of it from the outside and all eyeballs on it now. »
Boone said he discussed a potential rest day with the slugger a night earlier after the Yankees won the East crown.
« What do you think of tomorrow? ‘I want to play,' » Boone said of the conversation. « Let’s go. »
The DH role at least gave the six-foot-seven leadoff hitter a break from his outfield duties.
Judge’s 60 homers this season before the start of the game was one shy of the AL mark set by Roger Maris in 1961. The 30-year-old Judge also has a good shot at winning the AL Triple Crown this year.
After the Toronto series, the Yankees will still have seven games to play.
New York has the day off Thursday before hosting the Baltimore Orioles in a three-weekend series. New York closes the regular season with a four-game set at Texas.
Judge equalized a career-high four walks in New York’s 5-2 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night. He scored twice and extended his on-base streak to 26 games.
« I feel like this streak and the last streak, I think the teams chased it, » Boone said. « He just doesn’t hunt and he’s so disciplined right now.
« You have to be careful with him, even if you attack him. »
Judge is second in the majors with 105 walks this season (18 intentional) behind San Diego’s Juan Soto (133).
Judge set a career-high 127 walks in 2017 in his first full major league season.
When Barry Bonds set the major league record of 73 homers in 2001, he also led the majors with 177 walks. Bonds had a career-high 232 walks – including 120 intentional assists – in 2004.
Judge’s standout campaign was also a regular topic in Toronto manager John Schneider’s pre-game availability with the media this week as well. The Blue Jays skipper said he feels Judge’s pitching selection has improved this year.
« I think because of the way people throw him, a lot of mistakes happen in the middle of the plate and he doesn’t miss them at all, » Schneider said.
« It’s hard to successfully hit a pitch and not miss it, and he’s been doing it for seven months, » Schneider added.
Judge lined up in his first plate appearance on Tuesday and made a full count in his next four plate appearances. His only other four-step game came in a September 2017 game in Baltimore.
« As the batsmen unfold, his discipline has been one of his calling cards this year and one of the reasons he’s having such a great season, » Boone said.
Going into Wednesday’s games, Judge led the major leagues in homers, runs scored (128), on-base percentage (.425), slugging percentage (.693), OPS (1,119) and extra-base hits (. 88).
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 28, 2022.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press