It’s been a season of transition for the Yankees, and that was on full display this past week. Alex Rodriguez played his final game in pinstripes on Friday, just one week after Mark Teixeira announced he’d be hanging up his cleats for good at season’s end. Veterans like Carlos Beltran, Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller were also shown the door in recent weeks, all to make room for the bevy of prospects Brian Cashman has acquired while waiting for some onerous contracts to expire.
“The roster has been changing a lot,” Cashman told the New York Times. "We’ve had a lot of changes with a lot of quality people that we’ve said goodbye to, and a lot of quality people we’ve been saying hello to.”
Some of those greetings were reserved for Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin, who made their major-league debuts in last weekend’s series with the Rays. And the results were better than good; they were historic.
Judge and Austin each homered in their first major league at-bats while making back-to-back plate appearances on Saturday, marking the first time debuting teammates hit home runs in the first at-bat of their careers in the same game, let alone in back-to-back style.
“I don’t think I could have asked for anything better,” Austin told the New York Times after the game.
Judge added another home run on Sunday and drove in the Bombers’ only RBI in Monday night’s win over Toronto, but he’s not letting the success go to his head.
“It’s pretty crazy, but I’m just trying to do a job,” Judge told reporters after Sunday’s tilt. “Coming into Game 1, I was comfortable. We’ve got a great group of guys in this clubhouse, and they’re gonna try and take care of me. It’s been fun. Getting a chance to be up here and be part of the team is pretty exciting.”
Judge has also won the confidence of his manager.
“We felt good about [Judge] when we called him up,” Girardi remarked while addressing the media on Sunday. “We’ll take it slow with him, too. He’s a young player, and you want to make sure that he’s making adjustments. So far he’s looked really, really good. I’ve been real pleased with his at-bats, the adjustments, his patience, what he’s swinging at.”
But as with any baseball team turning it over to the young guns, there are bound to be growing pains.
Luis Severino, who showed tremendous promise in the Bronx last season, was demoted once again to Triple-A Scranton after a disastrous start against the Rays on Sunday that inflated his ERA to 7.19 in 12 starts.
“We’re going to get this ironed out.” Girardi said. “He’s going to go down and start down there and work on stuff. It’s frustrating to get sent up and down, but to be really successful at this level, you have to have a lot of mental toughness, and this is part of it.”
Severino, trying to keep his chin up, told the New York Post, “It’s been tough. I know a lot of players have been through this. I’m just going to keep working.”