TORONTO (AP) — After a winter of waiting, the New York Yankees are ready to roll with two of baseball’s best sluggers.
Aaron Judge and newcomer Giancarlo Stanton will bat second and third when the Yankees open against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.
“We can’t wait,” said Judge, the 2017 AL Rookie of the Year. “We’ve been excited for this since the beginning of spring training.”
Stanton won the 2017 NL MVP award with Miami, then was acquired by the Yankees in a December trade.
“I’m focused, excited, just ready to get some games that mean something,” he said.
Judge hit rookie-record 52 homers and led the American League. Stanton topped the National League with a career-high 59.
“Just really excited that they’re both on my side,” said Aaron Boone, who replaced Joe Girardi as manager,
Boone said he liked what he saw from Stanton during spring training.
“He is really focused,” Boone said. “I think he knows where he’s at in his career, knows the opportunity that’s in front of him with our team, and I’ve been really impressed with the seriousness of the work he puts in behind the scenes to get ready.”
Stanton is an eight-year veteran who has never hit fewer than 20 homers in a season. Judge, however, doesn’t have the same track record, leaving some to wonder whether he can avoid a sophomore slump.
“Obviously he’s become one of the faces of our game,” Boone said of Judge. “If anyone is equipped to handle all that goes with being a superstar player for the New York Yankees, I think Aaron is more than capable of that.”
On Thursday, the Yankees will begin finding out how Judge fares when Stanton is standing in the on-deck circle behind him.
Here are some other things to watch as the Yankees and Blue Jays begin a four-game series:
Right-hander Luis Severino at 24 is New York’s youngest opening day starter since 23-year-old Lefty Gomez faced the Philadelphia Athletics in 1932. While Severino acknowledged he felt butterflies, he said he expects to be more comfortable after making four postseason starts last October. “Tomorrow is going to be like the same atmosphere as those playoff games,” Severino said, “so I will take those experiences and bring them to tomorrow, not trying to do too much, just taking one pitch at a time and trying to hit the glove every time.”
OPENING WITH ADVERSITY
New York has lost six straight openers, the longest such streak in franchise history and the longest active skid in the major leagues. The Yankees also have failed to win any of their past seven series at Toronto. “We know we’re up against it,” Boone said. “When they’re on top of their game, this is a dangerous team.”
A little more than 24 hours before his managerial debut, Boone said he was less nervous about opening day than he used to be. “Today usually would be an anxious day for me as a player,” Boone said. “Here, I feel pretty relaxed. I’m sure I’ll toss and turn a little bit tonight.” Boone worked as a broadcaster after retiring as a player and had never managed at any level.
NO TIMELINE FOR TULO
Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was scheduled to see a specialist this week to discuss treatment options for painful bone spurs in his right foot. The oft-injured Tulo, who has missed at least 30 games in each of the past six years, will begin the season on the disabled list. There is no timetable for his return. “Your guess is as good as mine,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
With Greg Bird out at least six weeks after surgery on his right ankle Tuesday, Tyler Austin will start at first base at bat ninth for the Yankees against LHP J.A. Happ. Catcher Gary Sanchez bats fourth, followed by center fielder Aaron Hicks, shortstop Didi Gregorius, third baseman Brandon Drury and second baseman Neil Walker. Bird and OF Jacoby Ellsbury are expected to be put on the DL Thursday. … New York received RHP Jose Mesa Jr. as a winter meeting draft return from the Baltimore and assigned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. … Stanton, who will DH, said he expects to play the outfield a couple of times per week. … Gibbons said INF Gift Ngoepe will be on Toronto’s opening roster.
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