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The Yankees’ twin behemoths might look less gigantic this year. On purpose, with the purpose of keeping them on the field more.
Eric Cressey, the Yankees’ director of player health and performance, told the YES Network’s Meredith Marakovits in an interview that aired Thursday night, that Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, at his direction, chose a road they hadn’t traveled previously in their offseason conditioning.
“Both of those guys took a dramatically different approach this offseason from what they’ve previously done,” Cressey said. “I’d say in both cases, they lifted less than they have in the past.”
Judge totaled 130 regular-season games out of a maximum 222 in 2019 and 2020, and Stanton clocked only 41, as the two men each spent multiple stints on the injured list with an undesired blend of strains and sprains.
Cressey added: “Aaron in particular has taken a heavy interest in a lot of yoga. We’ve had a great instructor in Dana Santas who’s come in and helped out at our spring-training complex. Not just Aaron, but Luke [Voit] and Mike Ford and Thairo [Estrada] and Nick Nelson, a lot of those guys who are down there. So that’s something that I think is important.
Aaron Judge and Giancarlo StantonAP (2)
“But also, we have to be mindful of the stresses on guys who are 6-foot-7, 6-foot-8. Big dudes who are standing around for long periods of time in cleats. Those are things that normal people don’t encounter. So I think we’ve understood their preparation has to be markedly different in terms of not just building them up as athletes, but building them up as baseball players where there is a gradual on-ramping of those specific stressors. Running the bases, changing directions, swinging. So both of those guys are in a good place.”
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Stanton, who missed five and a half weeks last year due to a strained left hamstring, enjoyed a thunderous postseason, brief as it was by Yankees standards, slamming six homers in seven games. When he returned to action last September, he discussed the importance of continuing to move between at-bats at the designated-hitter spot.
“I think particularly with Stanton, we saw really, really good glimpses of what G is when he’s going good,” Cressey. “There was actually a period in left field prior to Game 5, in that last series against the Rays, when he was out there doing some sprint work [at Petco Park]. It was as athletic as I’ve ever seen him. I was confident that he could have gone out there and played the outfield for us that night. And it was super-encouraging.
“It was really a testament to how open-minded he had been to attacking things a little bit different, and so I’m really excited to get some more time with those guys in person.”