Yankees Icon Raises Concerns Over Aaron Judge

Yankees face strategic shift with Judge's new role.

by Nouman Rasool
Yankees Icon Raises Concerns Over Aaron Judge
© Christian Petersen/Getty Images

New York Yankees luminary Bernie Williams recently voiced his concerns regarding the team's decision to have Aaron Judge, the esteemed club captain, assume the role of primary centre fielder following the acquisition of celebrated outfielder Juan Soto from the San Diego Padres in December.

Williams, a former centre fielder himself, expressed apprehensions about the physical demands of the position on Judge. Speaking to Bob Klapisch of NJ Advance Media, Williams highlighted the increased physical toll the centre field could have on Judge, particularly given the need for more extensive movement compared to right field.

He speculated that this could potentially impact Judge's conditioning and, consequently, his offensive contributions a crucial element for the Yankees. Williams suggested that to mitigate these effects, Judge's playtime might need strategic management, including regular stints as the designated hitter.

These sentiments echo the reservations shared by other notable figures such as former Yankees hitting coach Sean Casey, play-by-play announcer Michael Kay, and retired Gold Glove centre fielder, Lorenzo Cain, especially after the team secured Soto.

Despite these concerns, Judge is poised to start the 2024 season in centre field, humorously remarking earlier in the week about his injury-prone history in the right field and hinting at a potential reduction in injuries with this positional shift.

Judge's Injury Aftermath

Judge's transition comes in the wake of a significant injury last June a torn ligament in his right toe sustained while playing right field, an incident he acknowledges will necessitate ongoing care for the duration of his career.

Williams further elucidated the challenges of the centre field, emphasizing the continuous demand for territorial coverage and the nuanced responsibilities such as base backup, which are more taxing than those in the right field.

He also touched upon the unique difficulties of fielding and throwing from centre, including avoiding collisions and managing different throw trajectories due to the pitcher's mound. As the Yankees stand as one of the top contenders for the World Series this fall, with DraftKings Sportsbook placing them fourth with +1000 odds, the potential impact of any prolonged absence of Judge due to injury looms large over their championship aspirations.

Williams concluded by emphasizing the critical role of the center fielder in orchestrating the outfield, a responsibility now resting on Judge's sizable shoulders. He noted the importance of communication and spatial awareness in avoiding injuries and ensuring defensive efficacy, underscoring the significant adjustment required from Judge in his new role.