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Judge smoothly handles first taste of CF

MLB.com @BryanHoch

TORONTO -- Enjoying what he called "the best view in the house" for Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Aaron Judge seemed comfortable patrolling center field for the first time in a big league uniform, though the slugger is soon expected to return to his regular duties in right field.

Judge's first inning was his most eventful, as he scooped Josh Donaldson's long double after left fielder Billy McKinney crashed into the wall. After McKinney was replaced by Brett Gardner a batter later, Judge then easily settled under a Yangervis Solarte fly ball for his first putout.

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TORONTO -- Enjoying what he called "the best view in the house" for Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Aaron Judge seemed comfortable patrolling center field for the first time in a big league uniform, though the slugger is soon expected to return to his regular duties in right field.

Judge's first inning was his most eventful, as he scooped Josh Donaldson's long double after left fielder Billy McKinney crashed into the wall. After McKinney was replaced by Brett Gardner a batter later, Judge then easily settled under a Yangervis Solarte fly ball for his first putout.

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Judge, who was drafted as a center fielder, slid back to his old position due to a suddenly thin Yankees outfield. Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Hicks are both on the disabled list, and manager Aaron Boone was wary of playing Gardner in five straight games to open the season.

Tweet from @YankeesPR: Judge is playing CF today with Stanton in RF. First pitch of Yankees at Blue Jays is 4:07pm on @YESNetwork and WFAN. pic.twitter.com/WzHWqFa72r

"The first thing they told me once I got drafted was, 'I know you played center field in college, but we've got Ellsbury there in center and he's going to be there for a long time,'" Judge said. "'So if you want to make this Major League team at some point, you've got to learn to play right.' So I said, 'All right, I'm fine with that.'"

With McKinney landing on the 10-day disabled list, Boone said that Judge has been supplanted on the center-field depth chart by Tyler Wade, who will resume outfield workouts this week.

At 6-foot-7, Judge tied Walt Bond as the tallest center fielder ever to appear in a big league game. Bond manned the position for the 1960-61 Indians and the '64 Houston Colt .45s. And at 282 pounds, Judge is the heaviest center fielder in MLB history; Wily Mo Pena and Carlos Peguero were each listed at 260 pounds.

"Maybe he's the biggest guy on the field," Gardner said, "but he's also one of the most athletic guys on the field, too. He's fully capable of doing it. If he wasn't, they wouldn't be putting him out there."

Judge has not played a position other than right field since making his big league debut in August 2016, but he was drafted as a center fielder out of Fresno State University and manned center in 11 Minor League games (eight starts), doing so as recently as '16 for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

"Any time you play shortstop or center field, the majority of the baseballs are hit in the middle of the field," Judge said. "You have to have a great fielder at shortstop, and you've got to have a guy that has good range and good hands in center field. That's why we've got guys like Hicksy and Ells and Gardy playing center, because they're great athletes. Let them go out there and do their thing."

Pitching in
The Yankees have signed veteran left-hander Oliver Perez to a Minor League contract, assigning him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The 36-year-old Perez made 50 appearances for the Nationals last season, compiling a 4.64 ERA while finishing eight games and recording one save. A 15-year big league veteran, Perez pitched across town with the Mets from 2006-10, winning a career-high 15 games in 2007.

Day of rest
After three starts behind the plate, Gary Sanchez is expected to have a full day off on Sunday, with Austin Romine catching Sonny Gray. Boone said that he will make the switch with an eye toward having Sanchez ready to catch Jordan Montgomery in the Yanks' home opener on Monday.

He said it
"I slept like a baby. Really comfortable hotel beds. Really comfortable." -- McKinney, on his first night as a big leaguer

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge