Yankees making sure Aaron Judge gets some left field experience

NORTH PORT, Fla. — The morning after playing his first game in 10 days Wednesday night, Aaron Judge reported to Aaron Boone that he was feeling “really good.”

With that box checked, the Yankees will have Judge check another off on Friday: playing left field.

Judge is scheduled to start Friday’s game against the Mets in left field, taking a detour from his new everyday spot in center field to prepare for the occasions during the regular season when the Yankees might need him to slide over.

Aaron Judge will take left field on Friday against the Mets, feeling “really good” after playing his first game in 10 days on Wednesday. Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

“I just want to get him in there,” Boone said Thursday before a 5-2 loss to the Braves at CoolToday Park. “Just wanted to do it at least once so that if you got a situation where [Trent] Grisham’s in the game late or Grisham’s starting a game and [Alex Verdugo] is out or something, just want to have that in there.”

The Yankees had Judge start a few games in left field last spring, with the idea that he could play there with Giancarlo Stanton starting occasionally in right field at Yankee Stadium.

Of course, Stanton got hurt early in the regular season and the Judge-to-left-field plan never came to fruition.

But it could be back in play at times this season on days Verdugo has off or late in games when Grisham enters as a defensive replacement in center field.

Luis Gil will start Friday’s game against the Mets, with Will Warren expected to piggyback him with both taking their last crack at winning the fifth-starter job to break camp.

The Yankees still see Warren strictly as a starter, but are debating whether Gil would be best used as a starter or filling the Michael King role out of the bullpen as a multi-inning weapon.

Yankees pitcher Luis Gil (81) throws a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays. Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The latter would also allow the Yankees to manage Gil’s innings after he has barely pitched the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery, though Boone said that would not give them any hesitation in putting him right into the rotation to start the season.

“He’s ready to go either way,” Boone said.

DJ LeMahieu did some agility drills and light running at Steinbrenner Field on Thursday as he tries to get back from a bone bruise on his right foot in time for Opening Day.

LeMahieu had done similar workouts indoors before Thursday, but this was his first time outdoors since fouling the ball off his foot on Saturday.

It remains to be seen whether LeMahieu will be ready to start the season on time, though the Yankees could bring that decision all the way up to next Thursday.

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“And you may be in a position too where, even if he’s not available a game or two, that’s what you end up weighing,” Boone said. “So we’ll see.”

Oswaldo Cabrera started in right field but moved to first base in the sixth inning, another glimpse of his defensive versatility that will likely help him make the roster.

His offense has also picked up lately as he singled and walked against Charlie Morton on Thursday.

“I think [first base] is a position that people underrate, think it’s an easy position,” Cabrera said. “But when I play there, I know it’s not an easy position.”

— Additional reporting by Joel Sherman in Tampa

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