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Boston Herald
Boston Herald
25 Mar 2023
Tribune News Service

NextImg:Yankees Notebook: Anthony Volpe builds case with home run-producing adjustment

TAMPA — Pablo Lopez got Anthony Volpe swinging with his sweeper in the first inning Friday. In the third, it was the prospect who made the Twins’ Opening Day starter pay.

Volpe, just 21 and vying to be the Yankees’ starting shortstop, drove a nearly identical pitch to center field on the first offering of his second at-bat in the Yankees’ 6-4 spring training loss to the Twins. The two-run shot, Volpe’s third of the spring, caught the eye of his manager as the Yankees weigh some big decisions with camp nearing its end.

“He went to school on it and made whatever small adjustment he needed to and really, really leaned on it,” Aaron Boone said after the game at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

“He’s a heady, smart player, but he’s a good player. So it’s like he’s got the equipment to go do things, but he processes things really well. He learns. He adjusts really well.”

Volpe, meanwhile, praised Lopez’s sweeper as “a pretty nasty pitch – but I felt like I saw it pretty good.”

Volpe, the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect, is now hitting .277 with a .967 OPS this spring. He’s also recorded five doubles, five RBI and five stolen bases while impressing with his defense. His main competition, No. 3 prospect Oswald Peraza, has also shown off his glove, though he was hitting just .171/.293/.314 with two doubles, one homer, one RBI and two stolen bases before starting at short and hitting second in the Yankees’ Friday night “B” game on the road against the Orioles.

Boone said not to read into the games that Volpe and Peraza were assigned to Friday. Volpe led off while playing behind Opening Day starter Gerrit Cole.

Th skipper added that both are “well-rounded players,” though he acknowledged that Peraza’s “numbers aren’t great” after the 22-year-old hit well over a handful of big league games last September.

Boone also said that he “thinks” the Yankees will know their roster decisions before they leave Florida next week, though he was sure to emphasize that word. Volpe, meanwhile, said that he’s been trying to block out the impending choice at short and enjoy what’s left of his time in Tampa.

“I’m just happy with all the work I’ve been able to put in. I feel like I’ve improved a lot in different parts of my game,” Volpe said, adding that the opportunity to learn from the Yankees’ established major leaguers and coaches has been an invaluable experience. “We’ve learned things that we’re going to take years into the future.”

Volpe said that those close to him have not been bugging him about the Yankees’ decision – “They kind of know the situation and they’re respectful of everything” – but he does notice his family when they come to games, including Friday’s.

“They do not get embarrassed or feel bad about standing out,” he said with a smile.

Aaron Hicks started in center field on Friday, but Boone said that doesn’t necessarily mean he prefers Hicks there while Harrison Bader recovers from an oblique injury. Rather, the manager said he’s “just kind of juggling” his outfielders around so that they get reps at different spots. Aaron Judge, for example, made another start in left against the Twins.

Boone also said he expects Giancarlo Stanton to play the outfield early on this season, and that an Opening Day start is possible. Non-roster invitee Willie Calhoun is still in the mix for a job, too.

Boone said that Carlos Rodon felt good after the pitcher threw a bullpen Thursday, his first since mildly straining his left forearm. Rodon, sidelined since March 9, will probably have his next pen session on Monday. He said that he’ll mix in breaking balls after only throwing 15 fastballs on Thursday.

“He’s had a good week,” Boone said.

The Rangers informed Yankees castoff Clint Frazier that he will not make their Opening Day roster, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Frazier, who played for the Yankees from 2017-2021 before a brief stint with the Cubs last year, has had a decent but not great spring.

The Yankees visit Texas from April 27-30.