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Boston Herald
Boston Herald
25 Mar 2023
Tribune News Service

NextImg:Anthony Volpe’s preparedness has Aaron Judge’s attention: ‘He just shows up ready to work’

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Aaron Judge didn’t think twice when asked to identify one thing that has stood out the most about Anthony Volpe this spring.

Judge could have mentioned Volpe’s speed, which he used to start Friday’s game with a bloop triple. Judge could have highlighted the 21-year-old’s bat-to-ball skills, which Volpe used to raise his spring training average to .314 in the Yankees’ 8-3 win over the Phillies. Judge could have even praised Volpe’s fielding and quiet confidence, both of which have helped the New Jersey native in his quest to become the Bombers’ starting shortstop.

But instead, the Yankees captain singled out Volpe’s work ethic.

“He just shows up ready to work. He’s prepared. Very rarely do you see that at such a young age,” Judge said, noting that neophytes can sometimes be a bit immature or unprepared for big moments. “But he’s seemed ready to go every single game I’ve play behind him.”

When told of this, Aaron Boone agreed, stating that Volpe has earned the respect of the Yankees’ veterans during his first big league camp. However, the manager is not surprised by that, or Volpe’s commitment to his craft.

“That’s what we expected from him, and that’s what we know about him, and that’s why you hear a lot about him,” Boone said. “It’s because of all those little things he does really well, and he’s shown us that since the start of camp. Guys have kind of gravitated towards that.”

It’s helped that Volpe, the Yankees’ top prospect, is putting up stellar numbers as he competes with fellow farmhand Oswald Peraza. While the slick-fielding Peraza has struggled at the plate this spring, Volpe has a 1.064 OPS, six doubles, three home runs, five RBI and five stolen bases after falling a home run short of the cycle on Saturday.

“He’s had a great spring so far. He’s putting the ball in play. He’s making the plays on defense. Hustling, great at-bats, competitive at-bats,” Judge said. “I’m excited to see, at whatever point he’s up with us, what he can do for us.”

With yet another performance to write home about, Volpe is making a strong case for himself as spring training comes to an end. But he insists he’s not focusing on whether he’ll start his season in the Bronx or at Scranton with the Triple-A RailRiders.

“I guess when you put it like that, it makes you think about it more,” said Volpe, who will get a day off Sunday. “But my whole mindset this whole camp has just been take everything day-by-day, and whatever happens, happens.

“I’m kind of just trying to prepare every day like it’s the same.”

If Volpe were to win the shortstop job, he would be the first rookie to appear in the Yankees’ Opening Day lineup since Judge, who batted eighth in 2017. Judge, however, chose his words carefully when asked if Volpe deserves the shortstop gig right out of the gate.

“It’s tough to say,” the outfielder hedged. “I don’t know. I haven’t seen all the guys. We got Peraza, Volpe, [Isiah Kiner-Falefa] when he’s been there. There’s quite a few guys, but he’s definitely putting his name up there at the top.”