Judge Ready To Go

Judge had a multi-hit game in his Spring debut

TAMPA, FL -- Outfielder Aaron Judge, one of last year's first round picks, has still yet to make his official professional debut after missing last season with a pulled quad. He did, however, face his first opposing team in the Spring Training opener on Friday and he says he is so happy to be back playing again.

He made his professional debut of sorts on Friday, facing his first opposing team when his Charleston squad took down the Pirates' low-A affiliate.

"Oh I was nervous," he admitted after the game. "It was my first AB, my heart was pounding. I had to step out a few times just to relax a little bit.

"I felt like a kid out there again, [it being] the first time playing again. I was running around in the outfield just trying to make a play. It was fun, I had a great time."

He signed right at the deadline last July and immediately was put on the disabled list after pulling his quad muscle. The injury took some time to heal too as he was unable to get any at-bats during this offseason's Instructional League either.

Judge reported to early camp back in January, not really to rehab the injury but to get himself back in game shape in preparation for his first Spring Training camp.

"I've been here since January just working with the strength coaches and with all of the hitting coaches just trying to get in shape for this Spring Training and the season. Hopefully I'm not back here again rehabbing [down the road].

"I feel wonderful, 100 percent. I've never been better. When I first came out here trying to steal bases I was a little iffy but these past few days I've felt really good. I feel healthy, strong, and ready to go."

It was a long layoff for the 6-foot-7 slugger. In fact, he had not seen live pitching in a competitive setting essentially since his last college game back in May of 2013.

"It was a little different coming from not having seen live pitching in almost a year now so I was a little anxious, jumping at balls, a little late, [and] I even broke a bat today but it's early. I'm still trying to get my timing down and see some pitches."

Anyone could excuse him had he looked rusty but going 2-3 with a walk, a double, a run scored and an RBI, he looked anything but rusty.

As good as he did, however, he still knows there is considerable work to do with his debut season just two weeks away.

"Just mostly on my timing and on my defense -- I'm working on that everyday trying to get my timing back, seeing more [professional] curveballs, see pitches basically. I just want to get my timing down.

"The first few at-bats are always a little rough but once you get past that it's like riding a bike, you just get back on it and it smoothly starts going again."

He is very eager to gain more experience going forward but more than anything he is just thrilled to be playing once again.

"Oh it's wonderful. Even though it's just a Spring Training game and there aren't a whole lot of fans I'm just glad to be back out there again. I just love playing baseball," he concluded.

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