Yankees' Juan Soto becoming more comfortable hitting second in lineup

One of the many storylines for the Yankees this spring training is where Juan Soto will bat in the lineup.

While manager Aaron Boone has floated the idea of using different lineup combinations, Aaron Judge has hinted heavily at preferring to hit third -- after batting second the last couple of seasons including his 2022 MVP year -- behind Soto.

So, should we expect a Soto-Judge 1-2 punch when Opening Day comes around? If that becomes the case, Soto is getting used to the idea, especially when it means hitting in front of the Yankee captain.

“He’s an MVP-caliber player. Who doesn’t want to hit in front of Judge? That’s the best,” Soto told The Athletic.” You’re gonna get more chances to hit. You’re gonna get more pitches in the strike zone. I think it’s going to be great hitting in front of him, or even behind him.

“Even with the lineup we have, you hit in front of (Anthony) Rizzo, or Giancarlo (Stanton), you’re gonna get pitches to hit because who wants to face those guys? Those guys are huge players who’ve been in the league for a while. I feel like if you hit in any part of this lineup, you’re going to be fine.”

Soto is doing more than fine so far this spring. Entering Thursday, Soto has played in two games, both hitting in the No. 2 spot -- once hitting in front of Judge, the other hitting in front of Gleyber Torres -- and the 25-year-old is 2-for-4 with a home run and five RBI.

The left-handed slugger has spent the majority of his career hitting third in the lineup -- 311 games to 216 -- and he felt uncomfortable hitting second when he was with the San Diego Padres last season, leading to stories stating he preferred to hit in the three-hole. But Soto says it was an adjustment period for him and that he is continuing to become comfortable.

“Hitting third is where I’ve hit my whole career,” Soto explained. “Hitting second was new for me. I’m still learning from it. Right now, I’m learning and trying to get it clicked in. I think it’s gonna be fine this year.

“This is gonna be my second season hitting in the second hole. I think it will be better than last year because last year, it felt really uncomfortable. I had never done it. I had done it a little bit with Washington but it didn’t feel the same. I’m getting more comfortable.”

Soto added that there’s a “different feeling” hitting second as opposed to third, but he can’t pinpoint why. He likened changing where you hit in the order to changing positions on the field, and that with time he’ll get used to it and get better.

Wherever Soto hits in the Yankees lineup, he and the team hope it ultimately leads to a World Series title. With Soto only guaranteed to be in the Bronx through the end of the season, the Yanks are all-in this year.

With that said, Soto's contract situation will be an ongoing topic all year.

Soto was asked about whether he thinks about his pending free agency, but the Dominican native isn’t worried about it and just wants to play.

“I just believe in Scott (Boras),” Soto said. “He’s been with me since I was a little kid and been helping me out with everything. He’s been helping me go through these kinds of things without any worry. Scotty has everything on his hands. I trust him to death. I just come here and play baseball.”