Aaron Judge hadn’t gone deep this spring prior to Thursday, so when he finally hit his first home run of 2021, he did so with authority.
The Yankees slugger crushed a 1-2 fastball from Phillies left-hander Matt Moore, launching it over the tiki hut in left field at BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater, Fla.
“Good to see Judgy really get into one; I thought it was a really good swing,” manager Aaron Boone said after the Yankees’ 13-12 loss to the Phillies. “Really short to the ball, and obviously the way he can hit, a no-doubter out of the stadium. Good to see him get an A swing off and really lean on one.”
Judge’s 440-foot blast clocked in at 110.1 mph off the bat.
“It’s funny; right before he hit that, I was about to poke one of the coaches and say he's going to homer on this pitch,” left fielder Clint Frazier said. “He fouled it off, and then there you go, the next pitch he hit a home run.”
Judge entered the game 9-for-37 (.243) with an uncharacteristic .297 slugging percentage and no RBIs in 14 games this spring. As Frazier watched Judge deposit a ball over the center-field batter’s eye during batting practice, he had a feeling the hulking right fielder might be primed to hit one over the fence Thursday night.
Even Judge’s out on Thursday was loud, as his second-inning groundout left his bat at 111.4 mph.
“I don't think I was the only one feeling like he was going to crack out of a drought in homers tonight just because of the BP that he had,” Frazier said. “It’s just a matter of time. He’s a special player.”
The Yankees are hoping that Judge can stay on the field this season, something he has struggled to do since his breakout 2017 campaign. Judge has battled a variety of injuries over the past three seasons, missing 142 of a possible 384 games since the start of 2018.