New York Yankees News: Aaron Judge is excited and ready, Zack Britton and more

William Parlee
New York Yankees, Aaron Judge
USA Today

The New York Yankee slugger and star Aaron Judge is ready for baseball. With the start of spring training camps just a month away, MLB has announced no plans to delay the season. On Thursday, Judge said that he feels there will be a 162 game season that will hopefully have fans in the stands at some point. He said he sees no reason that the season will be delayed, as other major sports have continued throughout the pandemic, and MLB was able to complete a 60  game season with any major incidents.

At present, spring training is slated to begin in mid-February, with pitchers and catchers reporting on February 15 and is followed by players reporting on February 21. Opening Day is coming on April 1. The first exhibition game will be at George M. Steinbrenner Field on February 27, when the New York Yankees will face the Detroit Tigers. That will be followed by an away game with the Philadelphia Phillies at Clearwater, Florida.

On Thursday, Judge said, “I’m excited to see some familiar faces again in Tampa and go back to work.” At present, Judge is healthy and ready to start spring training.

Yankees will have to make changes in the 40 man roster.

The New York Yankees will have to make some 40 man roster changes to add several new players. Last week they re-signed DJ LeMahieu and hired two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber. The Yankees, when they formally announce those players, space will have to be made for them on the roster.

When the players start exhibition games in Florida, they will seem far more normal than in the 2020 regular season. Currently, fans will be allowed in Florida ballparks as Florida Covid-19 regulations presently allow fans in outdoor venues. However, there are still complications. It is unclear but likely that when players report may be tiered. For instance, it seems as of now that minor league players may not report until the Major League players have left camp. Also, many of the training facilities are already open for workouts for a limited number of players.

The bottom line for the season expected to start on time is that many questions are still left unanswered. Some of last year’s format will remain this year. Health protocols, doubleheaders with seven-inning games, and the man on second after nine innings all seem likely. All of these issues will be resolved in the coming days as spring training approaches.

Zack Britton talks about the upcoming season

Zack Britton, who took part in a webinar produced by Judge’s All Rise charity Thursday, said, “I hope we do start on time. … I hope we do get some fans in the stands, too.”

Aaron Judge had this to say about the webinar:

“I am so excited to launch the ALL RISE for Leadership series,” states Aaron Judge, founder. “Leadership is something I enjoy talking about and delving into. With the ALL RISE mission of helping our children and youth develop into responsible citizens, I believe this series is a great opportunity for us to create a dialogue about leadership in many different facets that can benefit anyone of any age.”

In 20 regular season appearances this past season, Britton posted a 1.89 ERA. The lefty was 8-for-8 in save opportunities, filling in as closer while Aroldis Chapman recovered from a positive coronavirus test.

Britton faced 76 batters during the 2020 regular season without yielding a home run.

Britton has indicated that his sinker has vastly improved three years out from his ruptured right Achilles tendon, the New York Yankees’ setup man is still adjusting his mechanics back to his pre-surgery days. His better sinker will certainly aid him as he takes on an even more important rule in the bullpen with the loss of Tommy Kahnle to the Dodgers. This season you may also see a mix and match situation between Britton and Aroldis Chapman in closing games.

Yankees continue to strengthen the bullpen but in small ways

In other news yesterday, the New York Yankees have signed another former Baltimore pitcher, Asher Wojciechowski, a rightly pitched in 10 games last year, striking out 31 players but allowing 28 runs for an elevated 6.81 ERA. With his minor league contract, he will be invited to spring training, but it is doubtful that he will make the team.

The Yankees have made several other additions to the bullpen, but no major arms have been added to replace Tommy Kahnle. The Yankees have taken back three former relievers, Adam Warren, Nestor Cortes Jr., and Tyler Lyons.