Judge, Stanton revamp winter routines

February 5th, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. -- and have “dramatically” altered their winter workout programs in hopes of remaining on the field throughout the upcoming season, according to Eric Cressey, the Yankees’ director of player health and performance.

“In both cases, they’ve lifted less than they have in the past,” Cressey said Thursday on the YES Network. “Aaron in particular has really taken a heavy interest in a lot of yoga. We have to be mindful of the stresses on guys who are 6-foot-7, 6-foot-8, big dudes who are standing around for long periods of time in cleats. Those are things that normal people don’t encounter.”

Cressey said that Judge has been working with Dana Santas, a yoga instructor who has assisted the club during Spring Training in years past. Luke Voit, Mike Ford, Thairo Estrada and Nick Nelson are among the other players participating in yoga sessions at the Yankees’ player development complex in Tampa.

“Anytime you see an athlete who has some chronic stuff, there is a perception that they’re not working hard,” Cressey said, referring to Judge and Stanton. “It couldn’t be further from the truth. Those guys are rock stars in every aspect of their preparation, from how they come into the training room to the work they put in in the weight room.”

After being diagnosed with a right rib fracture in March, the delayed season permitted Judge to be in the Opening Day lineup. He was limited to 28 games due to a right calf strain initially sustained on Aug. 11, which he aggravated in his first game back from the injured list on Aug. 26.

Stanton played in 23 games, missing time due to a strained left hamstring, but the slugger was a force in the postseason. Stanton hit six homers in 26 playoff at-bats, driving in 13 runs against the Indians and Rays.

“Prior to Game 5 [of the American League Division Series], he was out doing some sprint work and it was as athletic as I had ever seen him,” Cressey said of Stanton. “I was confident that he could have gone out to play the outfield for us that night. It was super encouraging.”

While Cressey aims to build upon his relationships with all members of the club this spring, he is extremely familiar with right-hander , who signed with the Yankees last month. Kluber has worked regularly with Cressey as he aims to return to his Cy Young Award-caliber form, having been limited to 36 2/3 innings over the last two seasons due to injuries.

“[I look for] his ability to command a glove-side fastball,” Cressey said. “That’s the pitch when he’s executing it, he can throw a front-hip two-seamer to a lefty and everything else plays off that. It’s been really, really good. Today we saw a really sharp hard cutter, which is a thing that is like a natural evolution over the course of his offseason. We’re seeing the crucial checkpoints that we’ve learned over 11 years are certain boxes we see along the way.”

The Yankees hired Cressey after a 2019 season in which they set Major League records by having 30 players serve 39 stints on the injured list. Though an overhaul of the strength and conditioning programs was interrupted by the March shutdown, then again by the July ramp-up for Summer Camp, Cressey said that there was improvement made -- something he believes will continue into 2021.

“2020 was a little bit of a dumpster fire in terms of Major League Baseball injuries,” Cressey said. “What baseball really learned last year above all else is you can’t do Spring Training in three weeks. There’s a very skill-specific aspect of preparation that takes time for that adaptation to kick in. I’m very confident that baseball understands that now, and regardless of what happens with Spring Training, everything will have a little bit more of a gradual on-ramp.”