Yanks notes: Stanton crushes one, Bird vs. Voit

March 14th, 2019

TAMPA, Fla. -- The additional work that has been putting in behind the scenes appears to be carrying over into game action, as the Yankees slugger crushed a towering home run in the club's 5-5 Grapefruit League tie with the Phillies on Wednesday evening.

Stanton's sixth-inning blast off Philadelphia right-hander Hector Neris hit the top of the left-field scoreboard. It was the second homer of the spring for Stanton, who also singled in the contest and is hitting .320 (8-for-25) with three RBIs, five walks and six strikeouts in 10 games.

"To hit a ball like that into the wind, that's one of those that pretty much only 'G' hits them like that, when he hits it to the pull side like that," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "Good to see him continuing to get on base more. I feel like the last few games, [he's] getting a little more comfortable at the plate. It's good to see."

In recent weeks, Stanton has volunteered for early at-bats against pitchers like Aroldis Chapman, as well as continuing to test himself against the club's high-velocity equipment in the cages.

"He likes those opportunities to steal reps if he can get them," Boone said. "That's just really consistent with what we've seen from Giancarlo since he got here. I've talked about his professionalism, but this is a guy that's focused and works hard at his craft."

Just visiting

Making his first visit to Steinbrenner Field as a member of the Phillies, Bryce Harper seemed to be thrilled by a pregame encounter with Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, who shook hands with the superstar outfielder and offered his congratulations on Harper's 13-year, $330 million contract.

"I was a big fan of Reggie growing up, seeing old highlights and things like that," Harper said. "The way he played the game, somebody that has passion, the enthusiasm, just very cool to be able to talk to him for a second. ... He's very soft-spoken. Just being able to talk to him for a second, Reggie Jackson, who knows who I am -- that is pretty cool."

The Yankees did not make contact with agent Scott Boras regarding Harper during the offseason. General manager Brian Cashman has explained that the club saw no need for another outfielder, especially so soon after adding Stanton in a December 2017 trade with the Marlins.

"I know the kind of outfield they have," Harper said. "They went out and got Stanton in that trade. It was kind of up in the air. Never heard from them, but everybody knew that growing up I was a huge Yankees fan, of course. But I'm happy where I'm at and very excited to start my chapter with the Phillies."

First things first

There is still time on the clock in the first-base battle between Greg Bird and Luke Voit, and though the Yankees plan to carry only one of the two, Boone believes that there is no wrong choice to be made.

"The hard part about it for me is, I feel so good about both guys," Boone said. "I feel like we're looking at two impact players. That's the difficult part about it, but we're not there yet. I'm just excited that both guys are in such a good place and really looking the part right now."

Bird had another productive evening, stroking an RBI single in two at-bats, with a walk and a run scored. Bird is 10-for-28 (.357) this spring. Voit had a run-scoring infield single in three at-bats and is hitting .280 (7-for-25).

Eyes opened

Thairo Estrada was among a group of eight players who were sent to Minor League camp on Tuesday, but Boone said that the 23-year-old infielder showed great promise in camp. Rated as the club's No. 19 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Estrada missed most of last season due to an offseason incident in his native Venezuela, where he was shot in the right hip during a robbery attempt.

"He was talked about a lot," Boone said. "The ability to play the middle of the diamond, the hands, the ability to impact the ball -- he did a lot of good things this spring. Hopefully, it's the start of him going out and having a full, healthy season, because he's a guy we think can absolutely play in the big leagues."

Bombers bits

Aaron Hicks (lower back stiffness) continues to recover from a cortisone injection administered on Monday. Boone said that the Yankees "are going to take it slow" before Hicks returns to baseball activities, which could happen this weekend.

Up next

The Yankees will hit the road on Thursday, visiting the Blue Jays for a 1:07 p.m. ET contest in Dunedin. Roster hopeful Luis Cessa makes his third spring start for New York opposite Matt Shoemaker. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is on the travel squad to face his former club.