The Yankees have many tasks to complete down in Tampa before the season starts, and maybe none takes precedent over how to split time with the dynamic duo of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.
The idea to rotate them behind right field and designated hitter isn't a simple solution as the Yankees would like to get them more playing time in the field. That is why new first-base coach and outfield instructor Reggie Willits will work with both players in left field to see if that would be an option new manager Aaron Boone could use.
"It's going to be exciting," Willits told MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. "Everybody asks that question like it's a problem. It's not a problme at all. It's a pretty big blessing."
Willits was just promoted to the big league club after spending three seasons in the Yankees' minors as an outfield and baserunning coordinator. In turn, Willits has been able to work with Judge coming up the ranks. However, he has yet to see Stanton in person.
He did his homework, though, and Willits came to the conclusion that Stanton is a defensively sound outfielder that can make the switch.
"Everything I've heard is that his work ethic is off the charts and his attention to detail is good," Willits said. "With Judge, I have no doubt that if he had to pick it up, the way his mentality is, it's not a matter of if he will get soemthing, it's just a matter of how long it takes him, because he's got that kind of work ethic."
Many may think switching positions in the outfield can't be that hard, but Willits begs to differ. The ball comes off the bat differently when it's hit to left compared to right, especially coming from a lefty who could slice it off the barrel. Getting used to that and the different dimensions in left field will be the overall challenge facing Judge and Stanton in the transition.
"It's going to take some time to learn to do it," Willits said. "It's going to take time to see repetitions of a ball moving a certain way. It's pretty similar. It's just going to take repetitions. The kind of work ethic that both of those guys have, I think they're going to pick it up pretty well."
Brett Gardner will likely see most games in left field with Aaron Hicks manning center. But having Gardner rest from time to time, or sitting him with a tough lefty on the mound would assist Boone in many ways.
"The beautiful thing about it is, the outfielders that we have, they're all-in on winning," Willits said. "With guys doing roles that may be a little bit different, when you've got guys that are all-in and just care about winning. It sure makes it a lot easier."
As for the DH slot, Boone has noted he intends to swap Judge, Stanton, and catcher Gary Sanchez in that role.