The New York Yankees could shuffle their outfield now that Aaron Hicks’ strained right intercostal muscle has created a vacancy in centerfield. Manager Aaron Boone must decide if he wants to move Aaron Judge to center for the time being.
When asked, Judge said he was ready for the shift if his manager makes that call.
“It’ll be an easy adjustment,” Judge said via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, after the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday. “There’s easier reads in center than in the corners. When you have big guys like [Giancarlo] Stanton hitting you top-spin liners, you know what they’re going to do in center field. There’s true reads. If they call me and send me to center, I’ll be ready to go.”
What appeared to be a strength for the New York Yankees now could be an issue. Brett Gardner filled on Friday, but Boone is wary of playing Gardner four straight days during this series against the Blue Jays. If Gardner rests, Boone said, Judge will be the next man up.
The Yankees still figure to have a solid lineup with Hicks out of the lineup. With Judge, Garner, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez at the dish, there is no shortage of power in the lineup.
“I just don’t want to run [Gardner] into the ground, don’t want to wear him out,” Boone said. “We’re in a situation of need right now, but we still have to look at it through that lens and have to protect him, especially starting with four days on the turf and going home for a day game [on Monday]. We’ve got to think big picture on this, so I would say [Judge] is a possibility.”
Judge has not played a position other than right field since making his big -eague debut in August 2016, but he was drafted as a center fielder out of Fresno State University and manned center in 11 Minor League games, doing so as recently as 2016 for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The New York Yankees trust he can handle the switch.
“In college I played center and left,” Judge said. “It wasn’t until pro ball that I started playing right. I’m familiar with it all. I’m primarily a center fielder, but I’ll stay in right or left, it doesn’t matter.”
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the possibility of moving Judge is greater now than it was before the start of the season.