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Yankees display power in first spring training game

A trio of Yankees had their power stroke working in the Yankees’ first spring training game on Friday.

Didi Gregorius

Gregorius, who was batting second in the lineup, wasted no time filling the home run section of his box score.

2016 was a breakout season for Didi, who smashed 20 homers and posted a career-high .751 OPS.

The most impressive stat, to me, was his production against left-handed pitchers. In 160 plate appearances, Didi slashed .320/.357/.469, actually out-producing his splits against right-handed pitchers. Because he is so comfortable against both leftys and rightys, the two-hole in the lineup is a natural fit for Didi.

Didi will not be with the Yankees for all of spring training because he will play for the Dutch national team in the World Baseball Classic, which begins on March 6. It’s nice to see he’s making use of the time he is in Yankees camp.

Aaron Judge

In his second at bat of the game, Aaron Judge crushed a home run to deep left-center field.

Judge’s power is obvious. We saw it in his first career at bat last August and we saw it today, with that blast off the Steinbrenner Field scoreboard.

There will be a close microscope on Judge this spring, who is competing with Aaron Hicks among others for the starting right field job. Judge’s strike out numbers are well documented — 42 in 84 at bats in the majors last season. The Yankees have not been shy about saying that Judge must reduce those numbers if he is to make, and stay with, the big league roster.

Judge worked on a simplified approach at the plate this offseason. Scouts and Yankees management hope this will improve his contact rate. As Joe Girardi said during today’s broadcast, all Judge needs to do is put the barrel of the bat on the ball and he’ll be fine. Simple, I know, but at 6-foot 7-inches and 270-plus pounds, his size will do the work for him.

Kyle Higashioka

In the seventh inning, Kyle Higashioka got in on the action with a home run of his own — a solo shot to left field. The 26-year-old catcher is behind Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine on the depth chart, but his progress in the minors over the last couple years has people in the Yankees organization excited. In 2016 between Trenton and Scranton, Higashioka hit .276/.337/.511 with 21 homers and 81 RBI. Higashioka could make a cameo in the Bronx perhaps late in 2017.

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