TAMPA — Aaron Judge played his eighth game of the spring Monday and ripped a single to left in his second at-bat.
He’s still waiting for his first Grapefruit League home run, but Aaron Boone said, “he’s not all the way to where ‘Aaron Judge locked in.’ But to me, he really moved the needle at the plate for himself the last three or four days.”
Still, there was a called third strike in his first at-bat on a pitch that appeared to be low. It’s the pitch that he’s let go many times in his career — and despite the results, he has no plans to change.
“It’s funny, I’ve thought about maybe swinging at those [pitches], but that takes me out of my approach and my plan,’’ Judge said after the Yankees beat the Phillies, 4-2, at George M. Steinbrenner Field. “That’s not what I’m looking for here. It’s to get on base and hit pitches in the zone. Stuff like that happens.”
It’s been a focal point for Judge since he was in the minors.
“One thing I pride myself in is plate discipline and swinging at the right pitches,’’ Judge said. “I don’t want to swing at bad pitches. Pitchers, with guys like me, Giancarlo [Stanton] [and Gary] Sanchez, they don’t want to come into the zone on us. They try to nibble and they want us to swing at those bad pitches.”
And that would take him away from his approach — which he refuses to do, even if it does result in a strikeout.
“If they call it, they call it,” Judge said. “It’s spring training for everybody.”
He has a similar rationale for why he doesn’t pay much attention to exit velocity.
“My [focus] has always been, ‘What can I work on, what can I do before I hit a baseball?’ ” Judge said. “If I do everything I need to do and scrub the baseball, it’s gonna get the exit velocity that I need.”
Judge is 5-for-20 this spring with a pair of doubles, no walks and four strikeouts.
“If I get the barrel of the bat on the ball, I’ll get good results,’’ Judge said. “I try not to worry about it. I worry about my mechanics and swinging at the right pitches.”