Yankees OF Aaron Judge says he feels like an underdog heading into this season.
"I feel like an underdog," Judge said Monday in Tampa, according to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. "I'm fitting to go in there and take a job, to be honest."
Yankees GM Brian Cashman suggested last week that the right field Judge is the 24-year-old Judge's to lose.
"I was up in the big leagues and I got hurt. So I'm trying to go out there and prove something and win that spot," Judge said. "You just never want to get comfortable, to be honest. You want to keep going in there, having fun. You've got to win a point and try to win a job."
Judge added that he knows how pitchers will try to attack him.
"The book has been the same since I got drafted in '13," Judge said. "They're all trying to do the same thing. It's hard in, soft away. That's been the normal book. They're good pitchers up there, man. You have to give them credit sometimes. They did a good job."
Judge hit .179 with a .263 OBP and .345 SLG with four HR and 10 RBI in 95 at-bats for the Yankees last season, during what was his rookie campaign.
Judge is taking the correct approach: play like your job is on the line. Judge's concern, beyond his own results this spring, is that there will be a few other young players doing their best to lay claim to being the starting right fielder as well.
The club wants Judge to be the right fielder, but at the same point if he displays the same issues at the plate as he did last summer, the Yankees might feel that time in Triple-A will benefit him more. The Yanks had a similar situation with Gary Sanchez last season and sending him to Triple-A paid immense dividends later in the season.
Judge has been able to improve from season-to-season after faltering his first time at a professional level. I suspect he'll be able to do that again as a big leaguer. I believe Judge will do enough to win the job out of Spring Training, but if he doesn't, I would still bet that he'll be the player with the most reps in right field by the end of the season.