Notes: Stanton, Voit, Taillon, Gleyber

February 24th, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. -- Any questions about ’s ability to shine in the playoffs were answered last October, when the slugger belted six homers with 13 RBIs through the Yankees’ seven postseason games.

Having strapped the Yankees across his broad shoulders for those crucial series against the Indians and Rays, Stanton said that he's focused on getting the team even deeper this year.

“We’re tired of looking around in that locker room at the end of the year and not being where we want,” Stanton said. “We know what happened last year and the year before that. We have to take that leap and get past the hump this year.”

Like teammate Aaron Judge, Stanton understands that his availability is a huge piece of that equation.

“[The playoffs] showed you that he was an MVP for a reason,” said Yankees first baseman Luke Voit. “The home runs he was hitting were light-tower home runs. I know he’s going to be healthy this year. If we can just get him on the field, I know he’s going to be unbelievable.”

Having played in only 41 of a possible 222 regular-season games over the past two seasons due to a variety of injuries, Stanton has remodeled his training regimen, now favoring conditioning exercises instead of bulk-adding weight-lifting.

“I’m just trying to be more dynamic, keep the strength as much as I can without being glued to the gym,” Stanton said. “I’m just getting outside, running around and moving around more. I’ll try to prepare a little differently, and we’ll see how we get.”

That focus was already paying dividends by the American League Division Series, when the Yankees believed Stanton appeared healthy enough to play the outfield, if needed. Yankees manager Aaron Boone expects to use Stanton mostly as a designated hitter in 2021, though Stanton is participating in outfield drills.

“That’ll be good in the spring, to get me out there and get me going in order to be out there during the season,” Stanton said. “Whatever the team needs.”

First step
Voit led the Majors with 22 homers last season, but the first baseman is aware of defensive metrics that rated him poorly moving to his right, an area that he aims to improve this season. Voit said that he also wants to increase his walk rate, having worked 17 free passes in 234 plate appearances (7.3 percent).

“I need to have a better understanding of the zone and what I need to hit,” Voit said. “I’ll be aggressive at the same time, but be smart with it. … I’ve got to steady that heartbeat. I think I had too many ups and downs last year, so I’d like to be more consistent.”

Voit is one of several right-handed hitters projected to be in the Yankees’ Opening Day lineup; their only bat from the left side could be Aaron Hicks, a switch-hitter.

“I get kind of frustrated with everyone saying we need a lefty bat in the lineup,” Voit said. “I like hitting righties as much as I like hitting lefties, and I think a lot of guys do. It’s still Aaron Judge, it’s still Giancarlo, it’s still Gleyber Torres, it’s still Gary Sánchez. You’ve got to figure out some way to get us out, whether it’s lefty or righty, so good luck.”

Live at GMS
, and were among the pitchers on the Steinbrenner Field mound for live batting practice on Wednesday, facing hitting groups that included Clint Frazier, Hicks and Judge. Boone said that Taillon’s performance grew crisper as the outing went on.

“Overall, starting with Jameson, I thought our pitchers threw well,” Boone said. “Likewise, I thought our hitters were grinding away. With Jamo seeing Judge and Hicks and Frazier, those are guys that really control the strike zone. He got an early look in February that against those guys, you’ve really got to execute.”

Come on in
Steinbrenner Field employees were busy on Wednesday installing zip-tied seats and other social-distancing measures ahead of Sunday’s Grapefruit League opener against the Blue Jays, which is expected to feature limited attendance.

“I know we’re all looking forward to that -- no more [computerized] fans through the speaker system,” Stanton said. “I think it’ll be great for the fans to get their minds off of something for a couple of hours. Come see us play, enjoy being outside and back to somewhat normalcy.”

Added Voit: “It feels like it’s been five years since we played in front of fans, so I can’t wait.”

Bombers bits
Gio Urshela is recovering well from October surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. Urshela said his strength is close to 100 percent, and he expects to resume hitting in live batting practice within the next two days.

Torres’ conditioning was a talking point shortly after last year’s Summer Camp, when the Yankees thought the shortstop appeared too heavy. Boone raved about Torres on Wednesday, saying, “He’s in great shape. He’s moving well, and I’m excited to see what he’s going to do for us.”