Aaron Judge’s newfound health about to face big Yankees test



TAMPA — As usual, there was no mistaking Aaron Judge when he took the field at George M. Steinbrenner Field for the Yankees’ first full-squad workout of the spring Tuesday.

The right fielder said he “feels great” heading into this season, expecting the work he’s done with the organization’s second-year director of player health and performance, Eric Cressey, will pay off.

That’s about to get tested after an offseason in which Judge said he worked out differently, with a focus on quick movements — the kind that have led to some of his injuries in the past.

“I’m looking forward to it,’’ Judge said of starting a season without any injury concerns. “Last year, I thought I was coming in healthy, but I’d played a whole postseason and worked all offseason with a broken rib and punctured lung.”

This offseason, Judge said he and Cressey “fine-tuned certain things.”

“When you’re 6-[foot]-7, 275 [pounds], it’s a little different than when you’re Brett Gardner — 5-6, 150,’’ Judge said. “We’ve got to do things a little better. … Coming in without any injuries or a broken rib somewhere makes it a little easier hitting a baseball and throwing.”

Judge was limited to 28 games a year ago in the 60-game pandemic season, sidelined by a right calf strain suffered in August that he rushed back from and aggravated, which cost him more time.

The year prior, there was the oblique strain and a fractured right wrist.

He’s played a complete season just once in his major league career, when he appeared in 155 games during his rookie season of 2017.

Aaron Judge says he is feeling well this spring training.
Aaron Judge says he is feeling well this spring training.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

It’s among the reasons it was no surprise when general manager Brian Cashman said there had been no meaningful talks this offseason about a potential extension with Judge.

Judge was asked about an extension Tuesday in the wake of Fernando Tatis’ mega-extension with the Padres.

“No we haven’t,’’ Judge said of talks between the two sides, adding it was a “good question.”

“Nothing on our end, nothing from the Yankees,’’ Judge said. “I think they had more important things to focus on this offseason.”

He pointed to the free-agent signings of DJ LeMahieu and Gardner, as well as the additions of free-agent right-hander Corey Kluber and trading for righty Jameson Taillon.

“Our time is coming down the road,’’ Judge said of his contract. “It’s not something we’re focused on right now. Our focus is on trying to win.”

To do so, Judge needs to stay on the field, which is why he continued doing yoga in the offseason and adjusted some of his weight training.

But he stressed “different” wasn’t necessarily “less.”

“I’m always open to suggestions and I’m always open to learning new philosophies and seeing what works,’’ Judge said. “I didn’t really lift less weight. I still lift the same amount, if not more. It’s about being smarter.”

He has also suffered injuries due to his all-out style of play, which Judge said he doesn’t intend to alter.

“I’m a guy, when I’m on defense … and the ball is hit in my direction, my job is to catch it,’’ Judge said. “If that means going through a wall or going into the stands, I’m gonna do it.”

And he’s hoping the work he’s done on getting more agile will help him avoid having to make some of those plays.

If he’s successful at remaining in one piece, the Yankees should be better positioned to win in October.

“Every year, I put my heart and soul into this game, into my teammates, into the city, into the organization,’’ Judge said. “That’s why every year it hurts when we lose. … Those cuts are deep, but those are just scars. I’ve got scars all over me. I just try to build off those experiences and it’s all gonna make it sweeter in the end.”


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