VENICE, Fla. — Yankees manager Aaron Boone remains unsure when Aaron Judge will be cleared to take batting practice on the field.
“I don’t know, we will see. He hit in the cage [Thursday], the first time live so, I got to see what the next step is,’’ Boone said Friday.
From the opening of spring training, the Yankees said they would take it slow with Judge’s right shoulder. Thursday was the first time he was allowed to swing a bat against coach pitching after living on tee-and-toss.
Asked if Judge’s increased work load wouldn’t be a problem, Boone said, “That’s the hope.’’
Boone has said from the beginning of spring training the Yankees were taking it slowly with Judge because it is just February.
Sunday, however, the calendar flips to March and the clock remains ticking as to when Judge will not only take batting practice on the field but play in an exhibition game.
Boone also said it will be a close call for Giancarlo Stanton (strained right calf) to be active on March 26 when the Yankees open the season in Baltimore.
Gio Urshela left his No. 29 jersey in Tampa or it wasn’t packed for Friday’s trip to CoolToday Park. So the third baseman wore the No. 68 of Daniel Alvarez, a minor league pitcher not on the 40-man roster and not an invitee to big league camp. Alvarez was listed on the travel roster for Friday’s game, but did not play.
Estevan Florial has been held back the past two years because of injuries and failure to make contact at the plate against minor league pitching. Friday against Atlanta, the 22-year-old left-handed hitting center fielder homered off reliever Shane Greene, a former Yankee.
Gleyber Torres, who made a fielding error Wednesday, did the same Friday when he booted Nick Markakis’ ground ball toward the middle of the infield. He knocked the ball down, then threw wildly to first. Torres is being counted on to be the Yankees’ regular shortstop.
The Yankees felt comfortable not re-signing catcher Austin Romine to back up Gary Sanchez because they believe Kyle Higashioka is ready for that job. Higashioka gets high marks for defense and that skill was on display when he threw out Drew Waters attempting to swipe second in the third inning.
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole will start against the Tigers in Tampa and Jordan Montgomery, a heavy favorite to land a rotation spot, will face the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla.