TAMPA, Fla. -- It has been 10 months since "The Judge's Chambers" were unveiled, becoming an immensely popular fixture beyond Yankee Stadium's right-field wall. Could a portable version soon be necessary?Judge gave left field a whirl for the first time this spring on Saturday afternoon, when he manned the position
TAMPA, Fla. -- It has been 10 months since "The Judge's Chambers" were unveiled, becoming an immensely popular fixture beyond Yankee Stadium's right-field wall. Could a portable version soon be necessary?
Judge gave left field a whirl for the first time this spring on Saturday afternoon, when he manned the position for five innings against a team of lower-level Phillies Minor Leaguers at the Yankees' player development complex. He recorded one putout.
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Judge played only defense in the contest, one day after tracking high-velocity breaking balls during Friday's 2-0 Grapefruit League loss to the Astros. Judge is scheduled to return to big league camp for Sunday's game against the Marlins.
While Giancarlo Stanton has already played left field in games -- Friday marked his fourth Grapefruit League start there -- Judge has continued to start in right field or at designated hitter, taking fly balls in left field during practices. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that he would prefer not to have both Judge and Stanton working out in left field during the season.
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"I don't want to have to move both of them, if I can," Boone said on Saturday. "But in both cases, I need to prepare them both for that extreme situation if something comes up. Ideally, I'd like to not move them both."
Stanton went hitless in three at-bats during an uneventful night in the field Friday, and after a rocky debut, the reigning National League MVP reports his comfort is steadily improving. In Stanton's first start March 4 against the Rays, he failed to catch any of the three balls hit toward him. Stanton has continued to work with outfield instructor Reggie Willits, helping smooth the wrinkles.
"On that first day, I think it was a unique day where the sun came into play," Boone said. "I thought the routes were good. I think he gets more comfortable all the time. Reggie and his relationship continues to grow, the trust continues to grow. I know the work they did behind the scenes two days ago was another positive step forward. I feel good about it, if that's the direction we go, that he's going to continue to get more and more comfortable as we get more and more reps."
Stanton has played all but one of his 8,260 Major League defensive innings in right field. He last played left field in 2010 for Double-A Jacksonville. Judge has only played right field or DH during his relatively brief big league career, though he played all three outfield positions for Fresno State University.
Judge saw time in different spots as recently as 2016, when he was with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, starting seven games in left field and three in center field.
The Yankees have three players on their 40-man roster who are out of Minor League options -- outfielder Aaron Hicks, catcher Austin Romine and left-hander Chasen Shreve -- all of whom are expected to go north with the big league club when camp breaks.
Right-handers Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle have one option remaining, but both should be on the Opening Day roster. Infielder Christopher Austin and right-handers Luis Cessa and Domingo German are among those who could see their final Minor League option used late in camp, though Austin and German have outside chances of making the club.
The Yankees acquired Minor League right-hander Luis Gil from the Twins on Friday in exchange for outfielder Jake Cave, who was designated for assignment earlier this week to create room on the 40-man roster following the signing of infielder Neil Walker.
Gil, 19, was 0-2 with a 2.59 ERA in 14 starts for the Dominican Summer League Twins last season, striking out 49 in 41 2/3 innings. The 25-year-old Cave hit a combined .305 with 20 homers and 56 RBIs in 103 games between Double-A Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Walker made his Yankees debut at first base Friday, playing five innings and going 0-for-1 with a hit-by-pitch. Walker said he is scheduled to play second base Sunday against the Marlins.
"I didn't get any ground balls, but the right side of the infield feels fairly comfortable to me," Walker said. "It was good to get some action. I know that I've got a good week's worth of work left before the season starts."
Boone's comments Friday indicated that Tyler Wade not only has a strong chance of making the roster, but that he could be the Opening Day second baseman. Boone has said the 23-year-old Wade has continued to impress this spring and that he can see a path to regular at-bats for both Wade and Walker.
It is "possible" that Jacoby Ellsbury (oblique) will not be ready for Opening Day, Boone said. Ellsbury resumed hitting outside on a back field Friday, and the Yankees are discussing timetables to get the outfielder into a Grapefruit League lineup.
Clint Frazier (concussion) "continues to get better," according to Boone, who said the outfielder's neurologist is optimistic about his long-term prognosis. Frazier has not played since the Feb. 24 injury.
Masahiro Tanaka will make his third spring start Saturday as the Yankees visit the Tigers at 1:05 p.m. ET in Lakeland, Fla., live on MLB.TV and MLB Network. New York's travel roster includes Greg Bird, Brandon Drury, Hicks and Wade.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.