MINNEAPOLIS -- Aaron Judge's first round of batting practice at Target Field did not disappoint the curious onlookers who arrived early to watch baseballs soar into the upper deck on Monday, but the Yankees' phenom put on an even more impressive display with his strong right arm.Judge threw out the
MINNEAPOLIS -- Aaron Judge's first round of batting practice at Target Field did not disappoint the curious onlookers who arrived early to watch baseballs soar into the upper deck on Monday, but the Yankees' phenom put on an even more impressive display with his strong right arm.
Judge threw out the Twins' James Dozier with a one-hop throw to catcher Austin Romine in the fourth inning of the Yankees' 4-2 loss, completing a double play behind pitcher Bryan Mitchell as Miguel Sano lined to right field with the bases loaded and nobody out.
"I used to try to throw the ball in the air all the time," Judge said. "In the Minor Leagues, I gave Gary [Sanchez] so many short hops and tough plays. It's just easier if you give them a nice, easy one hop. They can read the bounce a little bit, and it saves your arm a little, too. You've got to get the ball in their hands, and they do the rest."
Statcast™ clocked Judge's throw at 97.7 mph, traveling a distance of 262 feet. It was the hardest throw on an assist for Judge in his career, and marked Judge's fourth assist of the season.
"That's it?" Judge quipped. "I've got to get something more behind that."
The Twins briefly considered asking for a review, as Dozier's left hand reached the plate at about the same time Romine applied the tag, but manager Paul Molitor eventually waved off home-plate umpire Brian O'Nora. Romine said that the Yankees are no longer surprised by Judge's defense.
"I just wanted to know if there was enough on it, and there was plenty on it," Romine said. "When guys throw those kinds of balls, it makes it easier as a catcher because you can just wait and sit there. He really did make a perfect throw, and it had a lot behind it. It was a great play. We needed it, too."
Judge said that he practices similar plays each day during batting practice when the Yankees' outfielders throw to bases.
"It's something we try to work on, just having a nice, easy one-hop," Judge said. "That's what any position player or any catcher wants, is a nice easy hop. For me right there, I'm just trying to keep it low. If I get the ball in Ro's hands, he'll make something happen."
Judge won the T-Mobile Home Run Derby at last week's All-Star Game festivities at Marlins Park, outslugging Sano in the finals, but has hit into some tough luck since.
He is 1-for-21 with seven strikeouts in the Yanks' five games since returning from the break, though one of those outs would have been Judge's Major League-leading 31st home run had Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. not brought it back in the eighth inning Sunday evening.
Judge has often said that if he's not contributing at the plate, he wants to make an impact on defense; Monday's throw was evidence of that mindset. Though some pundits have sparked early conversation about a potential Home Run Derby hangover, Judge said that thought has not crossed his mind.
"People talk. That's baseball," Judge said. "You're eventually going to go through those times where you're 1-for-10, 1-for-20, 2-for-10. It's just part of it. We've got to keep battling and keep swinging. That's the only way you get out of it is keeping getting at-bats."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.