Judge, Britton ready for more normal spring

January 22nd, 2021

is ready to get back on the field, and the outfielder believes that his Yankees teammates will begin Spring Training on time.

Judge spoke to an online audience on Thursday as part of his All Rise Foundation’s “All Rise for Leadership” webinar series, joined by teammate and Yankees director of mental conditioning Chad Bohling. Yankees pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 15, with their first game set for Feb. 27.

“I think it’s going to start on time -- I don’t see why not,” Judge said. “I’m ready. We’re excited. We’ve been training since our last game in October to get ready for the season. I’m excited to see some familiar faces again in Tampa and go back to work on what we started.”

Britton said he is hopeful that the Majors will experience a more normal season. The left-hander was an invaluable resource in many respects while serving as the team’s union player representative during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.

“I’m just excited to get around my teammates,” Britton said. “I hope we get some fans in the stands, too. At the end of the day, that’s what makes what we do so much fun -- interacting with the fans and putting on a good show for them. Hopefully, this year in general is just a lot better for everybody.”

The webinar featured questions from many young athletes and parents, focusing on the topic of clubhouse leadership. Judge said he traces his reputation to the influence of his parents. He first experienced a leadership opportunity during a fifth-grade overnight science trip, when the Linden, Calif., product broke up a fistfight between two classmates.

“We were in the woods to learn about nature,” Judge said. “One of the days, a couple of my buddies were arguing and they started throwing fists. No one said anything, and I had to step up and say, ‘Hey guys, knock it off. What are you doing?” I think jumping in that leadership role happens at different times in different ways. That time, it was me stepping up.”

Britton has also been a key clubhouse presence during his 10 big league seasons, the first 7 1/2 with the Orioles. Britton recalled being impacted positively by Hall of Fame first baseman/designated hitter Jim Thome, who finished his career in Baltimore during the 2012 season.

“Jim told me that when we get old, no one is going to recall my stats or know the numbers by heart,” Britton said. “What they’re going to know is that you were a good teammate. That’s the one thing you take with you forever when you’re done playing. I think that’s the best compliment you can give.”

Though the 2020 Yankees finished nine victories short of a World Series championship, Britton said he was proud to be part of a like-minded group that persevered despite the myriad challenges that the year presented. Judge said he expects the season will provide a new perspective once the world returns to normalcy.

“The biggest thing for me was not taking anything for granted,” Judge said. “Our game and the whole world got flipped upside down. There was no one there to experience it with us. I’m just not going to take anything for granted, those little opportunities. I think that’s going to help me later on in life, too -- just don’t take the little things for granted.”