Judge excited to see Yanks at full strength

September 17th, 2020

NEW YORK -- glanced at the lineup card posted in the home dugout on Wednesday evening, a batting order that produced seven homers in a 13-2 rout of the Blue Jays, and the Yankees slugger couldn’t help but flash a toothy grin.

“I feel like we’ve got the best team out there,” Judge said. “We’ve had a lot of key guys miss some time, but I think we’re getting back to full strength at the right time. This is the best time to be hot: going into the postseason.”

Judge went hitless in four at-bats on Wednesday, marking his first game since Aug. 26 and his second since Aug. 11, when he sustained a Grade 1 strain of his right calf. Judge is expected to play again on Friday at Boston and believes that he will need four or five games to regain his timing.

“It felt great to be back out there with the boys,” Judge said. “It’s been tough sitting in the dugout just watching or sitting at home when they’re on the road. I felt good; no issues with the calf, no issues on defense or moving out of the box.”

Joined by designated hitter and third baseman , Judge collected at-bats earlier this week at the Yanks’ alternate site in Moosic, Pa., including several showdowns against right-hander .

“We didn’t really have enough players to field a whole nine-versus-nine,” Judge said. “You had maybe two outfielders out there and a couple of infielders. I was able to get plenty of work. It was kind of like a shortened Spring Training game, where I could continue hitting second in the order.”

Judge regularly exchanged text messages with teammates during his IL stint and has been thrilled by their recent production, mentioning Clint Frazier, DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit in particular.

Over the Yanks’ seven-game winning streak entering Thursday, they have hit more homers (21) than their opponents have scored runs (13). The Yanks have scored 61 runs in those seven games.

“That's just what this team's capable of,” Judge said. “Up and down the lineup, you’ve got guys that can hit homers, guys that can drive people in. We work pitchers, we work pitch counts up, we get deep into the bullpen. I wasn't surprised by the numbers we put up, but it was fun to watch.”

Away we go
Yankees manager Aaron Boone packed two suitcases for the club’s upcoming road trip, recognizing that if the club achieves its goal of hoisting the World Series trophy, he would not return to his Connecticut home until the week of Halloween.

“I understand we signed up for this,” Boone said. “My family is very supportive. With school back in and things going on there, their world is very busy right now too. We’ll try and make the most of FaceTime and hopefully come home with a prize.”

After a seven-game road trip to see the Red Sox and Blue Jays, the Yankees will return to New York for a season-ending series against the Marlins, but they will not sleep in their own beds. Per Major League guidelines, the team will instead stay in a hotel, beginning their entry into the postseason bubble.

Judge said he was “not a fan” of having to say goodbye to his family for what could be six weeks.

“I feel like we’ve already been doing that this whole season,” Judge said. “It’s not going to change how we approach it and what we want to accomplish in the year.”

Gettin’ Higgy
With three homers on Wednesday, joined Bill Dickey (July 26, 1939 vs. St. Louis Browns) and Mike Stanley (Aug. 10, 1995 vs. Indians) as the only Yankees to enjoy a three-homer game while in the lineup as a catcher.

Gary Sánchez was the most recent Yankee to belt three homers, though he was the DH when he did it April 7, 2019, at Baltimore.

This date in Yankees history
Sept. 17, 1977: Yankees designated hitter Dave Kingman hit a third-inning homer off the Tigers’ Jim Crawford, becoming the first Major Leaguer to homer for four teams in one season. Kingman also played for the Mets, Padres and Angels that year.