Power surge: Stanton, Judge set for spring


The New York Yankees‘ first batting-practice swings of 2017 were accompanied by a cacophony of jackhammers, drills and saws, as workers rushed to complete a $40 million renovation of George M. Steinbrenner Field in time for the Grapefruit League opener.

New York Yankees New Era Game Authentic Collection On-Field 59FIFTY Fitted Hat - Navy
New York Yankees New Era Game Authentic Collection On-Field 59FIFTY Fitted Hat – Navy

On several occasions, those in hard hats were forced to scramble for cover as Aaron Judge lifted towering drives toward the scoreboard. The power tools have given way to old-fashioned muscle, and with now on board, the Yankees’ spring batting-practice sessions promise to be the greatest show on dirt.

The reigning National League Most Valuable Player Award winner, Stanton was acquired from the Marlins in December, providing the Yankees with two of the most imposing power threats in the game. Stanton belted a Major League-leading 59 homers for Miami last year, batting .281/.376/.631, while pacing the Majors with 132 RBIs.

“He obviously brings a whole new dimension,” managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. “He’s a league and a really good guy, and it’s going to be exciting. He’s going to produce some runs for us, and seeing him and Judge and [Gary] Sanchez and [Greg] Bird and Didi [Gregorius], it’s going to be exciting for our fans. They’re excited.”

Stanton hasn’t experienced the thrill of a postseason chase in eight big league seasons. The Marlins never finished better than 80-82, and the 28-year-old star is eager to be one of the finishing touches that helps the Yankees improve upon a successful, ahead-of-schedule run that saw them advance within one win of the World Series last year.

“That’s what I’ve always dreamed of,” Stanton said. “You always want to be in competitive games that mean something, and your performance means something to the team and the city. It’s going to be a fun challenge, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Stanton and Judge were the main attractions of last year’s T-Mobile Home Run Derby, and the hulking sluggers spent some time together before the competition, which Judge won after Stanton was eliminated in the first round by Sanchez.

“Fun young guys, man,” Stanton said. “They were experiencing the All-Star Game for the first time and enjoying themselves. [I was impressed by] the confidence and dynamic that they bring to a lineup.”

Stanton and Judge renewed that acquaintance in late January during the annual Baseball Writers’ Association of America dinner in New York, sitting side-by-side as Stanton accepted the NL MVP and Judge picked up his American League Rookie of the Year hardware. During the meal, the modern-day answer to Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris exchanged several laughs, no doubt envisioning what the next few months may hold.

“The big city. Bright lights,” Stanton said. “This is going to be a lot of fun for my wholesale jerseys.”

has covered the Yankees for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.