Must Yankees things to know Thursday | Daredevil Aaron Judge won't change ways

Aaron Judge talks his shoulder, Giancarlo Stanton's brain

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge will not use his left shoulder injury as the reason for his midseason slump a year ago - "I don't like making excuses" - after admitting for the first time it started bothering him around the All-Star break.

"Embrace that expectation", Boone said Tuesday. A lot of people can't wait to see my style or how I'm going to go about things or how I'll command the team, so maybe it's interesting to see how that unfolds. He may be held out of some early Grapefruit League games as a precaution, but there is no current danger of the 2017 American League Rookie of the Year missing the start of the 2018 regular season.

Boone doesn't want Judge to play cautiously, but he can be coached to play smarter, and last year's experience, his first full season, should enable him have a better perception of his surroundings while tracking fly balls. As he took questions from the media, it was immediately clear the Yankees will have a different kind of manager guiding the team after 10 seasons under Joe Girardi, and also a notice of how much has changed for the Yankees since last spring. "I was able to play".

That treatment, along with adjustments to his swing to compensate for the injury, was at the heart of Judge's resurgence - he hit 15 homers from September 3 to the end of the regular season and was a force in the American League Championship Series after a woeful divisional series.

"I want to be somebody that is known as a smart manager that makes smart decisions, that's prepared", Boone said.

The other question facing Judge on Wednesday was when did he suffer his shoulder injury and how much did it play in the epic slump that saw him hit.176 with 70 strikeouts in 199 plate appearances from the All-Star Game to September 2? If I'm willing and able and my body is able to play, it's all on me. He just began taking batting practice on Wednesday and probably won't see action in the first few Grapefruit League games, which begin February 23.

Judge felt the best time for surgery would be in the offseason.

"The games that matter are in April, so if I miss a couple of games early on which I probably will in the spring, I'd rather miss those games then miss games starting at the end of March into early April". "So we're on the right track and everything is where it's supposed to be". The surgery cleaned out some cartilage.

"He said, 'When we get down to Tampa, let's spend some time in the cage and pick each other's brain".

If that's true, who knows what Judge is capable of in his second full season, especially with Giancarlo Stanton joining him now in a Yankees' modern-day Murderers' Row that is going to make it more and more hard for anyone to pitch around either of the league's home run kings.

Judge slashed.284/.422/.627 with 52 home runs, 128 runs scored, 114 RBI, and 9 steals across 678 plate appearances last season.

"When he controls the strike zone, he's as deadly as anyone in the game", Boone said.

How Judge's shoulder was injured remains something of a mystery.

"In '16, when he came up, he had some success but struggled quite a bit", Boone said. When asked about when he initially felt the injury he responded, "I felt it midway through the previous year, but it came down to can you play?" "I think that's one of the things that's really helped connect this team (to the fans) at even another level than we've seen in recent years".

Speed and energy with a group of young players.

More than 90 players remain without agreements among the 166 who exercised their free-agency rights last November, the most sluggish market since the final offseason of collusion in 1987-88.

An hour later, Judge discussed in detail what he went through last season while battling through an injury that he suspects occurred "around the All-Star break" during one of the times he was "scratching" a right field wall trying to catch a blast that was headed for the seats. Two months later, in fact, he was still practically gushing, recalling Cashman phoning him to ask if he'd be ok occasionally DHing or playing left field - because the GM had a chance to get Stanton.

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