Put plainly: The Yankees are running out of centerfield options. Both Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Hicks are on the 10-day disabled list with a right oblique strain and strained right intercostal muscle, respectively, while manager Aaron Boone appears wary of making Brett Gardner play three straight games on turf as the club finishes off their series in Toronto this week. That leaves 25-year-old corner outfielder Judge, who has yet to play a single major league game at the position.
Judge isn’t totally unfamiliar with the position; as he told reporters Friday, he saw significant time in both center and left field during his college days. Professionally, he’s racked up just 11 total games in center, the last of which came during a three-game stint in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre during 2016. “I’m familiar with it all,” he said. “I’m primarily a center fielder, but I’ll stay in right or left, it doesn’t matter.”
It doesn’t look to be a permanent switch for the outfielder, however, just one that’s long enough to cover Hicks and Ellsbury’s absences. Rookie outfielder Billy McKinney was called up from Triple-A to provide some depth at the outfield corners, and Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade have also been mentioned as possible fallbacks. McKinney made his big league debut on Friday and contributed two defensive plays and his first career hit during the Yankees’ 4-2 win over the Blue Jays.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.
The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.
The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.
Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.
Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.
In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.