Aaron Judge has been a mainstay in the New York Yankees’ lineup all season as he keep to put up numbers that could define his MVP-caliber 2022 season as one of the best ever.
Manager Aaron Boone, however, isn’t concern about the mental or physical state of his All-Star outfielder before the playoffs while he is steeped in the chase for home run history.
Judge is one home run from tying Roger Maris’ American League single-season record of 61, but he has played in 45 consecutive matches — he also played 47 straight earlier this season. In total, he has played 147 of the Yankees’ 151 games, and he has 73 starts in center field, which is a career high.
“Hopefully, we can continue to kind of stack up some wins here and put ourselves in a position to where, in the last week, [we can] rest,” Boone said before Saturday’s 7-5 win, in which Judge went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts versus the Boston Red Sox.
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“Paying attention to not just Aaron, but to all the guys and what their needs are. I feel like [Judge] is in a good spot, as fresh as you can be mentally. I don’t think this has been something that’s worn him down. Because if I felt like it was, and he needed a day, I would give it to him.”
Boone stated Judge has benefited not only from the rest days built into the schedule of late — the Yankees had three days off during their latest road trip — but noted that Judge’s physical conditioning and durability are better than last year.
“That’s a unique part of the schedule that I think served [Judge] and us well,” Boone said. “But coupled with the fact that, I think, this year, more than last year where he remained remarkably healthy, there were still days where I knew he was a little beat up and felt like he needed something. It’s been a little cleaner throughout. There were some true strategic [days off] early in the middle of the year around some off days that hopefully served him well.”
Boone stated Judge’s chase for history hasn’t worn him down mentally, either.
“I don’t think it has taken that mental toll, because you are always paying attention to that with players,” Boone said. “Sometimes you feel like a guy does need a break. I haven’t felt that to be the case [with Judge].
“I think it’s the evolution of him. He’s done a better job knowing he doesn’t have to do everything every day. He knows how to preserve and save some bullets, especially when you get into the second half of the season and some of the dog days. He’s really learned how to prepare and understanding that, especially physically, that less is more a lot of times.”
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