It’s only Aaron Judge’s second season as a full-time big league player, but he’s already making a case for having his own place in the mini monument park outside of George M. Steinbrenner Field.
The Yankees outfielder hit a rookie record 52 homers last season, but the scary thing is, he could be even better this year.
"I try not to listen to people when they put a label on somebody- that was their best season, or their worst season," Judge said. "For me, I just- I don't know. And that's what kind of motivates me is, how good can you be? How great can someone be? And that's what motivates to come in here early and get my work in and try to improve."
“As great a guy as he is, and as nice of a person as he is, I think he’s driven to be great," Yankees first year manager Aaron Boone said. "And I don’t think he’ll ever be satisfied. And therefore, I think there are improvements in every part of his game that he’ll expect, that I’ll expect.”
If teams want to pitch around Judge this season, it won’t be easy.
The reigning rookie of the year was already protected with Gary Sanchez behind him in the lineup.
Now- there’s also Giancarlo Stanton.
"We already have a good core group of young guys, and he's going to fit right into it," Judge said. "I can already tell by his demeanor. And he's here to win. It's going to be a fun thing we have here."
“It’s a scary lineup," 4-time All-Star relief pitcher Dellin Betances said. "I wouldn’t want to be on the opposing side facing all these guys. We're kind of stacked."
Judge had to undergo minor shoulder surgery during the offseason, and he says he's probably going to have to miss some games during the Grapefruit League schedule.
But he's fine with that.
Judge is chomping at the bit to get back in there, but he says it's a lot better to miss exhibition games than when it really counts.
Judge admitted that his shoulder was bothering him during the middle of last season, but says it was important to him to gut through the pain to help his team during its chase for a playoff spot.
He was clear, however, that he wasn't using the injury as an excuse for a poor stretch at the plate he went through between his red-hot start to the year and outstanding finish through the end of the regular season.