Matt Duffy and Aaron Boone spoke with the media prior to Tuesday’s intrasquad matchup, followed by Chad Greene, Adam Ottavino, Jordan Montgomery, and Aaron Boone spoke with the media following Tuesday’s intrasquad game as well.
Matt Duffy, who was signed by the Yankees in June from Texas, spoke with the media on Tuesday. Duffy was asked how he ended up with the Yankees and what that process was like. Duffy stated that before rosters were finalized, he got a call from Chris Woodward of the Rangers stating he was not going to end up with a spot on the 60-player pool. From there, Duffy contacted his agent and within the next hour got a call from the Yankees saying they were interested in signing him.
Duffy’s initial reaction was that he was happy to know the Yankees were still interested after off-season conversations in the winter. Duffy stated that he’s extremely thankful to be with the Yankees.
With DJ LeMaheiu still potentially unavailable for opening week and longer, Duffy was asked how he feels about the second base position, stating he’s comfortable over there and takes reps to get used to that angle of the field. Duffy was scheduled to get reps in at second base in Tuesday night’s intrasquad game, which would be his second game at second. Duffy, formerly with the Tampa Bay Rays, stated the Rays moved their players around a lot, so Duffy stated he is comfortable with being moved around.
When asked what his expectations are and how he sees himself fitting in 2020, Duffy stated he doesn’t have much expectation and is thankful to be here. He stated that the Yankees understand what he’s capable of bringing to the team and hopes to provide stability off the bench. Duffy stated that when he’s in the game, he wants to be someone the staff can count on when he’s in the game.
AARON BOONE – PRE-INTRASQUAD GAME:
Aaron Boone spoke with the media prior to Tuesday’s intrasquad game.
When asked about Aaron Judge, Boone stated he was currently getting worked on. Boone did eventually later make the decision to keep Judge out of the lineup for one more night, but he is expected to play Wednesday, with the neck feeling improved on Tuesday.
When asked about Masahiro Tanaka’s progress, Boone stated that he isn’t necessarily “surprised” with Tanaka’s progress, but happy that and encouraged with his daily progress. Boone stated he was immediately relieved when he first went out to talk to Tanaka on July 4 with how he was responding. Tanaka has gradually increased his workouts each day and is continuing to respond well.
Boone was asked what his main focus leading to opening day in nine days is. Boones stated that it is simply continuing to build the guys up. Monday the pitchers faced intense fielding scenarios; Boone wants to continue building up position players to go deep in games and back to back. So far the response from the players has been good, going six to seven innings at a time. The players are getting their recovery time in, but getting their volume up and getting them ready to go is Boone’s current focus.
Boone spoke about players going to Scranton and how quick that could happen, stating that it could start to happen soon, but the Yankees are making sure the facility is up to standard and protocols. The Yankees might send players in waves and it could happen in different ways as time progresses. The coaching staff is expected to have those conversations this week as to who might be sent out and how many at a time.
Adam Ottavino spoke with the media following his outing on Tuesday. He was initially asked about his thoughts on the extra innings rule. Ottavino stating he is not a fan of the rule as he did not earn the runner that is on the base. When asked if it changes his mindset, Ottavino stated that it does not change his mindset, just forces players to try to defend the bunt more and pitchers not giving away a stolen base. Ottavino stated you have to figure out if players are going to bunt or not.
When asked about his outing on Tuesday, Ottavino stated that he thought his stuff was good and picked up a little more to where he wants it. He felt good physically and mentally and was pleased with his outing overall.
Ottavino was sked if it will be difficult to focus or gain momentum without a crowd in the stands. Ottavino responded saying he likes pitching in front of the home crowd, but the crowd is not much of a factor in his focus level. Ottavino stated he usually gets adrenaline from a given situation and finds an internal drive to lock in and do what he needs to do.
When asked what his biggest challenge has been getting into routine, Ottavino stated it’s getting used to the new protocols as a result of COVID-19. It’s living a new normal and finding some level of comfort even when there isn’t any. “It’s getting a little easier,” stated Ottavino. “I just want to focus on my pitching and not the other stuff. I have to make that stuff second nature,” stated Ottavino who is also taking extra precautions at home to be sure he’s safe. He wears a mask when he’s out and tries to stay as isolated as possible when he’s away from the stadium. He also does extra sanitizing of things and is doing what he can to keep everyone safe.
Ottavino was asked if he feels like the Yankees have an advantage in a shortened season. He stated that yes, he does. “We have a great staff overall,” stated Ottavino. The Yankees will be able to utilize everybody and have a deeper pitching staff than other teams. “We can go to our strength right away and run with it if our starters can’t go as deep at the start,” stated Ottavino, who has also been taking feedback from facing his teammates at the plate.
Ottavino stated he’s talked to a few guys about why something he’s thrown or done has worked in his favor. He struck Aaron Hicks out with fastball and Hicks said he thought something else was coming. He has also talked to Mike Tauchman about what his approach is against him and has tried to get in the players minds a little bit and find out what their thought process is. This has been one advantage of summer camp for the Yankees, is the pitchers getting feedback from the hitters and their perspective of the Yankees’ pitching staff.
Chad Greene also spoke with the media following his outing Tuesday. Greene stated he has been working on a new breaking pitch, that dates back to off-season. He stated he wanted something with more depth to change a hitter’s eye level. He was getting more comfortable with that pitch during Spring Training, and got a lot more reps with it during the quarantine. Greene stated that it feels good now and he’s continuing to work on shape and speed with it and getting more comfortable with the changed grip of the pitch.
As far as his arsenal is concerned, Greene stated that he tends to be one-dimensional at times and that this pitch allows him to be more versatile and he hopes it will help him to not have to grind through every inning and every at bat with the new pitch.
Greene had a month-long stretch last season where he struggled. He stated that he learned from that experience to treat every day as a new day and to not take past outings with you. He stated it’s about taking the good and the bad and moving on to the next outing. He stated it’s about putting in the work every day, from on the field to making mental notes, writing in a journal and doing what you need to do to improve every day. “Great relievers have such a short-term memory and use a reset button every day,” stated Greened. He has learned from Zach Britton and Adam Ottavino through the last couple seasons and he carries those lessons with him every day. He said that stretch last month will stay with him through his career.
Greene was also asked about the new runner-on rule that would be implemented in extra innings. Greene is also not a fan of that rule, stating as did Ottavino, that he did not earn that runner and that it is not a rule he necessarily enjoys.
Jordan Montgomery was the final pitcher to meet with the media following Tuesday’s intrasquad matchup. Montgomery stated that he felt pretty good Tuesday night, but would’ve liked to finish better and stronger. He stated he’ll take the positives and work on the negatives for his next outing. Montgomery stated he was a little fatigued and lost the zone a little bit in his later innings and would’ve liked to execute a bit better Tuesday night.
Of his positives, Montgomery pointed out his four-seam fastball and cutters that were playing in well. He also struck out six batters in three innings, reiterating that his stuff played well early when he was in control and in the zone.
Montgomery was also asked about the extra innings rule, also reiterating Ottavino and Greene in stating he’s not a fan of the rule. He stated that teams miss playoffs by a game and this year it’s about the small ball of bunting and the ball in the air that can win games based off a free non-earned runner.
Montgomery closed out his press conference stating that while he has enjoyed playing intrasquad games and they feel like real games, he is looking forward to this weekend’s exhibition matchups and facing other teams that the Yankees will play during the shortened regular season.
AARON BOONE – POST-GAME:
Aaron Boone met with the media following Tuesday’s intrasquad matchup.
Boone began by talking about Jordan Montgomery’s outing. He stated he looked really good his first three innings, but began to tire in the fourth inning, not looking as crisp as his earlier innings. Boone thought everything played well tonight for Montgomery, including his changeup, cutter, and fastball that were playing him. Boone stated tonight was another good step for Montgomery, especially his first time through the Yankees’ lineup.
When asked how Montgomery could be a factor in this year’s season, Boone stated that he’s already had a full season of success in this league and has grown physically and improved the quality of stuff and velocity of his fastball since then. Boone stated he could be a huge asset to the Yankees this season.
As stated earlier, Aaron Judge was again missing from the lineups Tuesday night. Boone stated he was feeling much better today and went through a pretty full work-day, however the Yankees felt it was best to hold him off one more day and expect him to be in the lineup for Wednesday’s intrasquad matchup.
Aaron Boone tested out the extra innings, runner-on-second rule Tuesday night and stated he wanted to have a runner out there to get the pitchers and infield in a position with traffic on the base to make sure they got work in under that situation.
When asked if he could see Gio Urshela at second base this season, Boone stated with the uncertainty of this season, he wants to make sure the Yankees are covered at multiple spots. Therefore, he did slide Urshela over there Tuesday night to get some work in. Boone stated he played well and can handle that position, but wanted to get him some extra work in.
When asked if the hitters are catching up to the pitching, Boone stated that he feels like his guys are finding their rhythm and timing more and more. Boone stated they’re pleased that the players have been able to get a lot of live reps in.
There were a lot of stolen bases in Tuesday night’s intrasquad matchup. Boone stated that his team has speed and that those situations are personnel-based. He stated that with Florial, Wade, Gardy, Hicks, and Estrada in the lineup, along with Tauchman, Granite, and guys that can run, that he’s going to implement that as part of their game.