NEW YORK (WFAN) — For the second year in a row, Joe Girardi is managing a phenom.
After watching rookie catcher Gary Sanchez burst onto the scene in record-breaking fashion last summer, Aaron Judge is having a similar impact this year.
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The Yankees right fielder is batting .313 with an American League-leading 12 home runs. On Wednesday, he was named the AL Rookie of the Month.
It’s hard not to make comparisons between what Sanchez did — hitting 20 homers in 53 games — and what Judge is doing.
“The difference for Judge this year is he’s gotten into his legs,” Girardi told WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Wednesday. “And when you talk about the difference between the two players, they both have been complete players. You look at Sanchey last year — caught well, threw well, hit well. You look at Judge — he’s hit well and he’s played outstanding defense. So in a sense, they’re similar, they’re young, and it’s great to have them both.”
Girardi is now having to manage not only Aaron Judge the player, but Aaron Judge the rising superstar.
“The one thing that I think it’s important for us to manage is the demands on his time, because there’s going to be a lot,” Girardi said. “Especially if this continues at this rate, there’s going to be a ton of demands, and we’ve got to make sure that he’s not being pulled too many directions, because sometimes it’s hard when you’re a young player to be able to separate that because it is exciting and it is fun and you’ve really haven’t had a chance to do this before. And you have to make sure that your focus is on the field first.”
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Despite his power numbers, Girardi said he is reluctant to move Judge into the third or fourth spots in the batting order. Instead, the slugger generally hits anywhere from fifth to seventh.
“Our lineup has worked so well, kind of spreading out the speed, and a lot of people have been getting on base, and we’ve had contributions from everyone,” Girardi said. “So we’ve been scoring runs in all different parts of our lineup, so I’ve kind of left it.”
The Yankees placed first baseman Greg Bird on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday with a right ankle contusion. Bird was initially hurt he fouled a ball off the ankle late in spring training. An MRI revealed Tuesday that the injury had not healed much since.
“He just felt his ankle wasn’t functioning properly, and we have to get him to the point where he feels he can do the things he wants to do when he lands and he turns,” Girard said.
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“We’ll take seven to 10 days just to let it calm down and rest and see if we can get him going and then sending him on some rehab games.”
Bird is batting just .100 this season. Girardi said he believes the ankle has been to blame.
“I think it had something to do with it (his slump) because I just didn’t see the explosiveness,” the manager said.
To listen to the interview with Girardi, click on the audio player above.
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