The widely anticipated batting practice extravaganza featuring the slugging outfield tandem of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge debuted on Monday afternoon at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Over a thousand Yankees fans — in awe — were reportedly in attendance to track the mammoth home runs.
Some fly balls struck the top of the left-center field scoreboard. Some fly balls connected with the outfield bleachers in right. Perhaps others caromed off those three popular billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.
In four total rounds of batting practice, Stanton hit four home runs, while Judge hit two. The batting practice group also included catcher Gary Sanchez and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who connected on a few pitches as well.
Of Stanton’s blasts, the most memorable was a towering shot to left-center field that came close to leaving the ballpark. According to YES Network’s Chris Shearn, the ball smacked off the letter ‘F’ on the George M. Steinbrenner Field sign, which is located above the outfield scoreboard.
Following Stanton’s first batting practice session as a Yankee, the reigning National League MVP spoke to reporters, sharing his experience with a new group of teammates and coaches.
“It was great. It was a great first day,” Stanton said. “We got a lot done out there and it’s been cool getting to know some of these guys and getting to work with them. The fans… the moment we touched the dirt, they were buzzing and ready for us to get in the cage and hit. So that was really cool, nothing like that experience in the spring.
“It’s exciting to see. We’re all working on what’s going to help us perform, but at the same time, we’re all excited to watch, too. So we’re our own fans and we understand everyone in the stands, too. You get the happy medium.
“I know they’re here for the entertainment, but we’ve got to get our work in, too. This six weeks is set up for the 162-plus [game] entertainment. It’s not hard. That’s my usual approach in BP, and that’s what got me to this point and it’s not going to change.”
Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone was also among the group of spectators mesmerized by Stanton and Judge’s first of many hitting spectacles.
“We’ve been excited for this day for a long time,” Boone told NJ.com’s Randy Miller. “To see those guys… You get the juices flowing a little bit when they want out and share a group together.”
Although Judge was allowed to participate in the team’s first full-squad practice, the 25-year-old won’t be hitting alongside Stanton when exhibition games start Friday. Judge, who is still recovering from offseason surgery on his left shoulder, will likely sit out the first couple of spring games.
“I understand it. It’s all part of it,” Judge told to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch on Sunday. “This process right here doesn’t matter. What’s important is being ready for Opening Day, so if I take a couple days here slow and miss a couple games or miss some activities, I don’t mind that. I’d rather not miss any games when it starts to count.”
“We;re all working on making ourselves better, but at the same time, we’re all excited to watch each other too.”@Giancarlo818 on taking BP with Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez today. pic.twitter.com/Vsf9d02P4D