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Home » Judge Hits Home Run in First Plate Appearance After Time Off

Judge Hits Home Run in First Plate Appearance After Time Off

31 March 2023, Friday

Yankees fans were treated to a victorious start to the 2023 season and a special moment from reigning American League MVP Aaron Judge. In his first at-bat as the Yankees' captain, Judge launched a 93 mph sinker from the Giants' ace Logan Webb 422 feet over the center-field wall for his first home run of the season and the first leaguewide in 2023. Judge also contributed a single to the 5-0 rout, giving Yankees fans a perfect introduction to their team's new season.

New York manager Aaron Boone praised Judge's home run against a tough opponent. “That’s about as tough a guy as you’re going to do it against, right on right. Webb is going to keep you in the ballpark,” he said. “To put the ball up and to hit it out in the dead center on a cold day is a difficult task but it set the tone for us right at the beginning, especially considering all that happened in the offseason with him signing back and being named the captain. For him to get us rolling like that was very fitting.”

Prior to Thursday's contest, Judge had jested at Major League Baseball's decision to have the Giants and Yankees face off in the Opening Day matchup for the first time in history, opposing the club he rooted for in Northern California that also sought him out during free agency as much as the Yankees did.
"Whoever at MLB planned this for me must be up to something," Judge said with a grin, "but it'll be an enjoyable afternoon nevertheless, going against a team I frequently watched as a youngster."

Aaron Judge, who negotiated with San Francisco in the offseason before signing a nine-year, $360 million deal to stay with the Yankees, expressed his joy over the meetings with the club, describing them as "a dream come true." Despite this, Judge was adamant that he had made the right decision in deciding to remain in New York.
I didn't want to go anywhere, Judge stated after Thursday's win. I was pretty clear about that from the start. This is where I want to be.

Prior to the game, manager Aaron Boone revealed that he had gone through a traumatic period in the winter, worried that Judge would sign with San Francisco. It was so distressing for him to envision Judge wearing a Giants jersey at the Opening Day.
On Thursday night, it couldn't have been more different. When the game was over, manager Aaron Boone remarked that the team looked "like a settled team". This was due to the performance of ace, Gerrit Cole, who went six innings with 11 strikeouts, and the bullpen's addition to the victory. Furthermore, the offense put on a solid display with good quality at-bats.

Two years down the line, in 2022, Judge was awarded the AL MVP title, threatening the Triple Crown - finishing first in home runs (62) and RBIs (131), second in batting average (.311), and having a remarkable 1.111 OPS. He also broke the American League's 61-year-old home run record that had been set by Roger Maris.
Prior to the game, Judge tried to de-emphasize any prospect of repeating a 60-home run season. Research from ESPN Stats Information reveals that the most recent player with consecutive 45-homer seasons was Ryan Howard, who achieved a higher output in four consecutive years from 2006 to 2009.

A handful I can recall hit 50 after that," Judge said. Perhaps we can make a new record. We'll have to wait and see.
His first home run of the night was indeed a record-maker, with Yankees starter Gerrit Cole referring to it as a tone-setter in the match. Gleyber Torres, who brought the Yankees 3-0 ahead in the fourth inning with his own two-run shot, was smiling when he declared that Judge's homer was not a surprise. "I'm not taken aback," the designated hitter declared.

"For Cole, Judge believed that nabbing a run early on proved to be a big advantage. He said it “allowed him to settle in and work with a little bit of a lead; the next one [by Torres] gave him a nice cushion to really execute his plan and try to attack the Giants.” Judge went on to say that “Anytime you come away with the win Opening Day, and kind of get things rolling, makes for a pretty special Opening Day.”
On his fourth Opening Day start in pinstripes, Gerrit Cole put on a show for the Yankees as he struck out an impressive 11 Giants, setting a franchise record previously held by Tim Leary (9 strikeouts, 1991). Even more impressively, his 12th strikeout in the sixth inning set a Giants Opening Day record.

Though his debut wasn't the only thing worth noting - the game also marked Aaron Judge's official captaincy of the Yankees and the major league debut of 21-year-old rookie Anthony Volpe at shortstop. Volpe expressed his joy in the experience, saying, “It was probably the most fun day of my entire life; I had goosebumps the whole day.” Yankees manager Aaron Boone further complimented Cole's performance, claiming, “I thought his fastball and his ability to move it around, in, out, up, down, was really strong, coupled with having a presence with the changeup against the lefties. He threw some really good sliders where he got some strikeouts. Just a really good performance.”

Volpe gave the Yankees faithful a moment to cheer with after he showed his loyalty to the team by kissing the NYY logo on his jersey while he was being chanted for the first time by the Bleacher Creatures. This was a move he had seen Captain Judge do in the past, and was met with appreciation by the Yankees leader. Judge also commented on Volpe's poise, as the shortstop was the youngest to make a Yankees debut since 1995, when Derek Jeter got his start at 20 years old.
"I was giving him a bit of a hard time before Opening Day," stated Judge. "I said, 'You know, Yankees fan or not, you need to do something special for the Bleacher Creatures.' I think the fans got a good reaction. He didn't get the hits he wanted, but they will come."

Following their victory in their Opening Day match against the San Francisco Giants, the New York Yankees said they had acquired the rights to right-handed pitcher Colten Brewer from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for financial compensation.
Brewer, now 30 years old, played most of the 2022 season with the Kansas City Royals' minor league squad, where he compiled a 4.76 ERA in 36 relief outings before he was let go in August. He was a spring training invitee to the Rays' camp in 2023, during which he earned zero earned runs over eight relief outings.

On Thursday, the Yankees made 12 roster moves, including the acquisition of pitcher Shawn Brewer. This acquisition was previously announced by Boone, who mentioned a "potential deal" and "a pitcher to be played" before the announcement. In addition, Lou Trivino and Tommy Kahnle were placed on the 15-day injured list, while minor league pitcher Jhony Brito was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Brito will be starting Sunday in the series finale against the Giants, as the Yankees are currently without three-fifths of their projected 2023 starting rotation due to injuries (Luis Severino - low-grade lat strain, Carlos Rodon - forearm, and Frankie Montas - shoulder surgery).
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