Aaron Judge shuts down Home Run Derby talk: Can’t force me
ARLINGTON, Texas. — Don’t look for Aaron Judge in the Home Run Derby during the All-Star break in July.
In March, the Yankees right fielder said he was leaning toward not defending the title he won a year ago. Tuesday, before the Yankees faced the Rangers at Globe Life Park, Judge told The Post he will skip the event.
“There is no need to do it,’’ Judge said about defending his title, which he copped a year ago in Miami.
Until MLB received official word that Judge would be in the Derby last year, the league made it very clear Judge’s participation would be a boost to the made-for-TV event.
So, what if MLB puts pressure on Judge, who commissioner Rob Manfred said at last year’s All-Star Game could be the face of baseball?
“Pressure won’t do anything,’’ said Judge, who entered a deep funk after last July’s event.
In 84 games before the Home Run Derby, Judge batted .329 with 30 homers, 66 RBIs and a 1.139 OPS. In the first 60 games after the break, Judge hit .195 (40-for-205) with 14 homers, 31 RBIs and a .797 OPS. He finished the season with an AL-leading 52 homers, 114 RBIs, an OPS of 1.049 and a .284 batting average.
In spring training, Judge was vague when asked if participating in the Derby played a role in him needing postseason surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder.
“I would rather not say,’’ Judge said.
Entering Tuesday night’s action batting .286 with 12 homers, 36 RBIs, third in on-base percentage (.415) and a .981 OPS that was sixth among AL hitters, it’s clear Judge has recovered well from the surgery.
In Monday night’s win, Judge halted an 0-for-17 slide with a fifth-inning homer and followed that with a sixth-inning double that helped fuel a three-run rally in what became a 10-5 victory and extended the Yankees’ win streak to three.
“The Home Run Derby was a cool experience and I enjoyed it all, but I don’t think I need to go out there and do it again,” Judge said in March. Tuesday his words were stronger.
“Even if [MLB officials] reach out, it’s still my decision and what I think is best for me,’’ Judge said in March. “Like I said, that is the last thing on my mind right now.”
Now it’s out of his mind.
As for the wiggle room, Judge said, “I am leaning more toward not doing it.”
Tuesday, Judge did more than lean. He is expected to be in Washington as a member of the AL All-Star squad, but his words made it clear he won’t be launching balls 500 feet in an event that doesn’t help the Yankees and has hindered other winners in the past once the regular season resumed.
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