BY JOE PANTORNO
The baseball world has been waiting for Aaron Judge’s true second act following his monumental 52-home-run rookie season in 2017.
If the weekend against the Mets is any indication, we might finally get it during the shortened 2020 season.
The Yankees’ slugger socked a pair of home runs during Sunday night’s exhibition game against the Mets’ B-squad of pitchers that were sent to the Bronx.
Regardless of the opponent, it was the first time optimism was surrounding Judge heading toward Opening Day rather than uncertainty in quite some time.
Injuries have plagued one of the faces of Major League Baseball as he missed a combined 110 games over the previous two seasons.
Those injury concerns carried right over into the Yankees’ original spring training when a broken rib suffered in September went unnoticed, limiting any action in February and March.
Following baseball’s coronavirus hiatus, Judge was hit with neck stiffness that sidelined him for a few days — just to add to the anxiety of him being ready for Thursday’s opening night in D.C. against the Washington Nationals.
After Sunday, there doesn’t look to be anything to worry about for now. Judge looked plenty healthy when his first-inning homer traveled 402 feet and had an exit velocity of 100.1 mph before his sixth-inning blast went 400 feet and hit 100.7 mph.
The concern of Judge’s health has also seemed to dissipate from the forefront of Aaron Boone’s mind, too.
“I actually haven’t asked him the last day or two if he’s 100 percent,” Boone said. “I’m assuming he is [ready for Opening Day] or obviously, he’s very close.”
That’s music to Yankees fans’ ears with World Series title aspirations very much present for the 2020 season.
“I feel like his energy, really, since he started camp, being able to hit, start ramping up a few weeks before summer camp and I think in his mind confirm that he’s healthy, and he’s really been able to get a lot of work,” Boone said. “He’s taken a lot of work behind the scenes. Taking extra at-bats. Working off the machine. Doing a number of reps. He’s just worked hard to put himself in a really good spot and I think he knows himself really well and knows how to get ready for it and I do feel like he’s ready and on a mission to go out and dominate.”
Through his four-year career, the 28-year-old has averaged just under 18 home runs per 60 games with 40 RBI.
This story first appeared on amny.com.