TAMPA — Aaron Judge’s path back to taking full batting practice took a small step Friday when he hit off a batting tee and flashed manager Aaron Boone a thumbs-up when done.
“Everything is moving there the way it should,’’ Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Judge, who hasn’t taken full cuts against pitching since arriving in camp last week because of soreness in his right shoulder. “It was another good day for him.’’
The exhibition season starts Saturday, but Boone didn’t have a date when Judge would participate in a game.
“Won’t be in a rush to put him in a game because of where we are in the calendar,’’ Boone said. “But I think he is pretty much good to go.’’
The Yankees’ team-bonding activity held following their workout Friday was a ping-pong tournament in the pavilion on the grounds of Steinbrenner Field.
“Togetherness away from the baseball stuff and try to build into that closeness,’’ Boone said when asked what his players get out of the sessions.
J.A. Happ starts the exhibition opener and will be followed by Michael King, Luis Cessa and Nick Tropeano. Jonathan Loaisiga, Gerrit Cole, possibly Cessa and Tanaka are the starters beyond Happ.
Miguel Andujar won’t play Saturday against the Rays, but Boone said he will travel to Port Charlotte on Sunday and play third base against the Rays. Boone said Andujar will be off Monday and play first base Tuesday night against the Pirates.
With Gio Urshela considered the starting third baseman Andujar —who finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year race as a third baseman in 2018 — is working at third, first and in the outfield.
“We will see how he is responding physically,’’ Boone said of Andujar, who missed most of last season because of right shoulder surgery. “Try to get him acclimated to all the different spots. I think he has shown he is probably going to be capable of it. Now it is about actually getting the experience.’’
For most of the live batting practice sessions, the pitchers, even those who have no chance of making the roster, have handcuffed hitters. Friday that turned a little bit when DJ LeMahieu homered and sent a sizzling line drive up the middle off Masahiro Tanaka.
New York weather took a stroll south. The final full-squad workout of camp was held with temperatures in the 50s and a brisk wind chilling Steinbrenner Field.
Having finished a bullpen session in short sleeves Gerrit Cole had some free time and he spent it watching Tanaka throw live BP. Cole thrives on information and has been impressed with Tanaka’s balance on the mound.
Yankees play the Blue Jays at Steinbrenner Field in the first exhibition game of spring training. J.A. Happ starts for the hosts.