TAMPA — DJ LeMahieu led the majors in batting average last season and is coming off a pair of the best offensive years in the sport.
The Yankees star hasn’t reflected much on that, however.
“Just because last year was good doesn’t mean anything,’’ LeMahieu said Saturday. “It’s a big confidence thing, coming off last year, but at the same time, I’m not taking anything for granted.”
That’s why he spent this past offseason with one thing in mind: “Chasing perfection with my swing.”
His pursuit has paid off well enough that re-signing LeMahieu was Yankees general manager Brian Cashman’s top priority this winter.
After a lengthy negotiation, LeMahieu got a six-year, $90 million deal and the Yankees went on with the rest of their offseason plans, deepening the starting rotation, bullpen and outfield.
Not surprisingly, LeMahieu’s mindset is the same following the payday
“Not a whole lot of changes,’’ LeMahieu said. “Just getting back after it. … I had two of my most fun years in ’19 and ’20. To have the opportunity to do that for six more years is exciting.”
Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are curious to see what the redesigned baseballs being used by MLB are like, but hitting coach Marcus Thames isn’t as concerned about the issue.
Asked if the offense would change its “philosophy” because there is some thought the balls might not travel as far as the ones used in recent seasons, Thames made it clear it would not.
“No, we’re not changing our philosophy,’’ Thames said. “We’re gonna control the strike zone and try to kick up some dust when the ball is in our damage zone.”
The new balls, according to a source, will be used throughout the spring and aren’t expected to perform any differently.
While Cole and Taillon have said they weren’t even sure which balls they had been throwing this spring, Thames said the team had some Friday.
“I didn’t really tell the difference,’’ Thames said. “We’ve got some pretty powerful guys. I don’t want our guys thinking about the baseball — other than hitting it.”
As for whether other teams or players alter their approaches, Thames laughed and said, “We’ll talk about this in November and we’ll see.”
Aaron Judge altered his workout program this offseason in an attempt to avoid injuries and become more “dynamic.”
Thames said Judge’s “swing looks good. We just want him to stay healthy and hope that protects everything.”
Right-hander Mike King is slated to start Sunday against Toronto, followed by Asher Wojciechowski, Lucas Luetge and Kyle Barraclough, as well as Nick Goody and Adam Warren, who both returned to the Yankees this offseason.
Aaron Boone said while there have been few physical issues in camp, Nestor Cortes Jr. is dealing with “an ankle issue,’’ but shouldn’t miss any time.