Aaron Judge to play center field for Yankees: 'Aaron’s excited to step up to the challenge'

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Aaron Judge dive in RF home whites 2019 ALDS
Aaron Judge dive in RF home whites 2019 ALDS

Desperate times call for desperate measures - and the Yankees have reached the point where Aaron Judge will play center field on Wednesday night.

This will be Judge's second appearance in somewhere other than right field - he played center field on March 31, 2018 in Toronto.

But Aaron Boone said he's ready for the challenge.

“He and I have had some conversations about it," Boone said. "He very much wants to do it. It’s in his game to do it. Before he left late last night, he kinda popped his head in my office, and we just kinda [said], ‘Hey, you ready for this?’ He’s like, 'Let’s do it.’ Understanding we’re in some unique circumstances right now where it’s needed. Aaron’s excited to step up to the challenge.”

Judge has Gold Glove potential in right field, so Boone isn't worried about him going out of position.

"He's a great outfielder. He's a good athlete. He's fundamentally, incredibly sound as an outfielder," Boone said.

Gerrit Cole is excited to see Judge in center, as well.

“I've actually seen him playing in college there against us (UCLA vs. Fresno State). ... I’m probably just as excited as you to see how it transpires. He’s obviously about as talented as it comes on the baseball field so there’s no job or no task that’s too big for Aaron," Cole said.

The Yankee manager added that most outfielders will say it's easier to go from the corners to center, rather than vice versa.

"He'll handle it fine, and it'll be seamless. I just think he's equipped athletically and fundamentally to go over there and handle it."

Boone would not commit to this being a long-term plan or just a one-game solution.

"We'll see how our situation evolves. We'll see how it goes. We'll see what our roster looks like continuing to move forward, as that's always evolving and changing and circumstances change all the time. We'll see. He's in there tonight, and we'll see how it looks moving forward.

"I'm not necessarily committing to anything, but I could definitely see it in play moving forward from time to time."

Judge's health has been a concern over the last several years - he's had his fair share of off days this year as well.

Boone has kept that in mind, as Judge will have to cover more ground.

"Then again," Boone said, "there's days where he's really moving a ton in right field. ...Once we get through this weekend, we’re going into a stretch where we do have a few off days in about an eight-day period. So it is something I pay attention to and I’m monitoring, but I’m excited to see him go out there tonight.”