Judge average up to .278 after pair of homers vs Orioles

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Judge average up to .278 after pair of homers vs Orioles
FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2017, file photo, New York Yankees' Aaron Judge (99) watches his first-inning, solo home run off Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Ervin Santana in a baseball game against the Twins in New York, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017. The Yankees reached Game 7 of last year's AL Championship Series behind Baby Bombers Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and young ace Luis Severino. Then they added the mightiest slugger in the major leagues, Giancarlo Stanton, and brought in a new manager they think will lead them to World Series title No. 28. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Aaron Judge’s spring training average is up to .278 after he homered twice in a 9-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

Judge was brought along slowly at the start of spring training following left shoulder surgery Nov. 20 for loose-body removal and cartilage clean up. He didn’t play in his first exhibition game until Feb. 28 and started 1 for 10.

“Just want to make sure I’m peaking opening day,” Judge said.

Judge did not play in Wednesday’s game against Minnesota. When he reported for spring training last year, he was not sure he would be on the opening-day roster.

“It seems like just yesterday, really,” Judge said. “I can’t forget that — reminded every day. You never forget that.”

He was the unanimous AL Rookie of the Year after hitting a league-high 52 homers with 114 RBIs.

“It doesn’t carry over,” Judge said. “I wish they carried over. I wouldn’t mind starting out with 52 homers. But that’s the thing, nobody cares about last year now. Once it’s opening day, everybody starts the same. So I’ve got to go out there and do better, put the work in and just do my job.”

Yankees rookie manager Aaron Boone likes what he sees from the 25-year old right fielder.

“I actually feel like he’s been really good now for, actually, a couple weeks,” Boone said. “I think he’s been getting really close. I think he’s seeing the ball well. I think he’s starting to find his timing.”

Judge will be joined in the batting order by NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton, who led the major leagues with 59 homers for Miami, then was acquired by the Yankees from the payroll-paring Marlins.

“He’s not satisfied with last year, you can tell that,” Stanton said. “He wants more and more, and to get better, which is exactly what you need after a season like that.”

Stanton says Judge will be able to handle the increased expectations.

“He’ll be fine,” Stanton said. “He’s got a good grip on the outside noise.”

Notes: The Yankees will open gates three hours before game time, rather than two, for the April 2 home opener, for all Friday night home games and for Saturday home starts at 4:05 p.m. and 7:05 p.m., allowing fans to watch New York batting practice. For 6:35 p.m. home games in April, gates will open 90 minutes before the scheduled first pitch.

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