TAMPA, Fla. -- Aaron Judge said on Thursday that he is leaning toward declining to defend his title at this summer's T-Mobile Home Run Derby, saying that he could be a "one and done" participant in the competition.
Judge doubled down on the comments he made earlier this week to teammate Carsten Sabathia's "R2C2" podcast, where the American League Rookie of the Year indicated that it would be difficult to top his memorable winning performance in last July's event at Marlins Park in Miami.
"I'm the Home Run Derby champion," Judge said. "It was a cool experience and I enjoyed it all, but I don't think I really need to go out there and do it again. I've won it once."
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Judge was the fourth Yankee - and the first rookie -- to win the Derby outright, hitting 47 homers in 76 swings. Only Giancarlo Stanton (61) has hit more homers in a Derby. Four of Judge's home runs traveled at least 500 feet, and Judge is the only player to win both the College and MLB Home Run Derby.
"It's just a personal decision," Judge said. "I did it once, enjoyed it, loved the experience. I was able to win it. It was such a cool experience. One and done is good for me."
Judge had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in November, and though he said he would "rather not say" if the Derby was part of the equation in that injury, Judge has acknowledged that the shoulder was bothering him around the 2017 All-Star break.
"The Derby wasn't even that big of a toll," Judge said. "It was just like taking BP. It really wasn't too taxing. I wasn't trying to swing 110 percent. I was just taking my normal 80, 90 percent swings, trying to make contact."
Judge said that his recovery from surgery is going well, and that he anticipates being completely ready for Opening Day.
"We're right on track," Judge said. "I've been feeling good. The shoulder has been feeling good. When I first got down here, there was a little soreness left in there but this past week especially, it's pain-free, no soreness, been feeling great. I'm just trying to maintain that and keep that rolling into the season."
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It is likely that MLB will invite Judge to participate in this year's event, to be held on July 16 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Judge said that even if the league lobbies him to commit, he is willing to let his 2017 performance stand.
"Even if they reached out, it's still up to me and my decision, and what I think is best for me," Judge said. "That's the last thing on my mind now, the Derby. I'm leaning more toward not doing it."
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that he does not have a strong opinion regarding his players' participation in the Derby.
"To each their own," Boone said. "I'm going to support our guys, whatever they decide, and that's where I stand on it. I think it's a great event and it's important to MLB, it's important to our game, but I want the players to do what's in their best interests."