Juan Soto homers in Yankees spring training debut in 12-6 win over Blue Jays

Juan Soto made the most of his spring training debut with his first homer in pinstripes as the Yankees beat up the Blue Jays, 12-6, on Sunday afternoon.

The Yankees' road split-squad was also in action at the same time but fell to the Phillies.

Here are some key takeaways ...

- Carlos Rodon reported to camp early and the noticeably slimmer -- and clean-shaven -- lefty was dominant on the bump Sunday. In the first inning, the southpaw struck out two batters with an average fastball of 94.3 mph and topped out at 95.4.

In his second inning of work, Rodon got the first two batters out quickly -- including another strikeout -- but began to lose a bit of command, falling behind early in counts, walking two and hitting a batter. But the burly lefty strikes out his fourth batter to get out of a bases-loaded jam.

Rodon, on a 50-pitch limit, got the first two batters out in the third before giving up a solo shot to Alejandro Kirk, which ended his day.

Rodon pitched 2.2 innings (48 pitches), giving up one hit, one earned run, two walks while striking out five batters.

- Manager Aaron Boone deployed the outfield with Alex Verdugo in left, Aaron Judge in center and Soto in right. This will likely be the Opening Day outfield, but this is the first time we see it this spring. Without DJ LeMahieu in this split-squad game, Verdugo led off with Soto batting second and Judge hitting third, and it paid off early on.

Verdugo led off with a double down the first-base line. Soto grounded out but moved Verdugo to third, which Judge cashed in with a first-pitch single to put the Yankees up 1-0.

In the third inning, Soto led off with a walk and Judge doubled to put men on second and third with no one out. Soto scored on a groundout. The early returns on the Soto-Judge batting order are really good.

Verdugo finished 1-for-2 with the double and run scored. Judge ended his day going 2-for-2 with a double an RBI and two runs scored.

"It's the first day. I don't want to jump too far ahead. But you could ask anybody in the lineup. We were all pretty excited, " Judge said after the game, while noting that LeMahieu and Anthony Volpe were the missing regulars. "But we all felt like little kids again."

- Soto, making his Yankees spring training debut, had a typical day for the perennial All-Star. After a productive groundout in his first at-bat, Soto walked to lead off the inning and eventually scored.

But the big blast came in his third at-bat, in the fourth inning. Soto took a 91 mph fastball up and out of the zone over the left-center wall with two men on to put the Yanks up 7-1. He finished 1-for-2 with a walk and three RBI.

- Anthony Rizzo, playing his first game since experiencing post-concussion symptoms last season, got off to a hot start. He doubled in the first.

- Yankees top prospect Spencer Jones entered late in the game and picked up a single in his first at-bat. Saturday, the tall outfielder had three hits, including a monstrous 474-foot blast.

Jones beat out a single after a weak dribbler to the pitcher in his second at-bat before walking in his third. The outfielder is a perfect 5-for-5 in two spring training games.

Catcher Luis Torrens had a solo shot in the sixth inning, his second homer in two spring training games.

George Lombard Jr., the Yankees' 2023 first-round pick, hit a two-run shot to put the Yanks up 12-6 in the eighth. The 18-year-old went 1-for-1 with a walk on Sunday.


Upcoming schedule

The Yankees continue their spring training tune-ups as they host the Minnesota Twins at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Monday at 1:05 p.m.

Simeon Woods Richardson is scheduled to start for the Twins while Nestor Cortes makes his spring training debut for the Yankees.