Yankees' Aaron Judge could start season in minors

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- New York Yankees prospect Aaron Judge could begin the season in the minors so he can play more.

Judge and Aaron Hicks are competing for the starting job in right field in New York.

"He needs to play, that's the bottom line," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday about Judge. "When you look at Aaron Judge, you don't want him to sit (on the bench)."

Judge broke into the majors last year and hit .179 with four homers and 10 RBIs in 27 games. There could be enough at-bats for Judge if the Yankees go with a platoon situation in right.

"Can't worry about that," Judge said. "If I go to Double-A, High-A, it doesn't matter. I'll go out there, play baseball and have fun, and every thing will work out the way it's supposed to."

The 6-foot-7, 282-pound Judge has big-time power, while Hicks is considered the better defensive player.

"They both played very well," Girardi said. "It's a tough decision."

Decisions on right field and the fourth rotation spot could come Thursday.

Luis Severino, a favorite since camp began for the fourth spot in the rotation, faces Philadelphia on Thursday.

"We have an idea of what we're going to do with him for the most part," Girardi said.

The fifth starter is not expected to be named before the regular season begins. The Yankees won't need him until April 16.

Jordan Montgomery, who has just six Triple-A starts, finished off a strong exhibition season by allowing one run over five innings in Wednesday's 3-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. The left-hander has become a serious contender for the fifth slot.

"He's definitely in the conversion," Girardi said.

Girardi said neither Severino or Montgomery will be used out of the bullpen.

New York opens the regular season Sunday at Tampa Bay.

Girardi also said shortstop Didi Gregorius, expected to be out until sometime in May, is doing exercises, but won't resume any baseball activities for another five to six days. The Yankees are looking at Pete Kozma to possibly join Ronald Torreyes as replacements for Gregorius.