Judge's first Spring Training workout ... is at 1B?

February 15th, 2023

TAMPA, Fla. -- As pitchers and catchers prepare to report to Yankees camp, revisited his high school days on Tuesday, going through a workout at first base.

Initially drafted by the Athletics in 2010 as a first baseman and pitcher out of Linden (Calif.) High School, Judge fielded grounders and received throws at the club’s Player Development complex, where he sported a first baseman’s glove and provided a 6-foot-7 target for shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and second baseman DJ LeMahieu.

Since first baseman Anthony Rizzo signed a two-year, $40 million contract in November, Tuesday’s workout was just a one-day cameo for the American League’s reigning Most Valuable Player, who has been spotted frequently at the club’s Minor League complex in advance of Wednesday’s official report date for pitchers and catchers.

Don’t look for Judge to get any game reps in the infield this year, though. Following the workout, manager Aaron Boone said that there was “nothing there.”

"We've got DJ and IKF and those guys over there taking ground balls. We needed someone to take the throws," Boone said. "I don't expect you'll see him out there this year. Maybe five years from now, maybe it's something we're talking about. I know that story had some legs, but it was much ado about nothing."

The Yankees signed the 30-year-old Judge to a nine-year, $360 million contract on Dec. 20, and he has yet to play a big league inning anywhere but the outfield. He made 74 starts last season in center field and 54 starts in right field, plus 25 more starts as a designated hitter, as he hit 62 homers to break Roger Maris’ single-season American League record.

Judge did not sign with Oakland after being drafted, instead choosing to attend Fresno State University. Because the school had Jordan Ribera (then the NCAA’s leading home run hitter) entrenched at first base, head coach Mike Batesole moved Judge to the outfield, reasoning that he could run down a fly ball as well as he’d tracked football passes at Linden High.