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Photo: Yankees Media Relations

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SUMMER CAMP UPDATE: Yankees Play First Intrasquad Game Is In The Books

It was game day at Yankee Stadium on Monday as the Yankees played their first live intrasquad simulated game of Summer Camp at Yankee Stadium. It was dubbed the “family game night” and the general consensus among the players was that it felt really good to get back out there in a game situation and that it was a lot of fun.

Aaron Boone met with the Media prior to Monday Night’s intrasquad game at Yankee Stadium. Boone spoke on what he hoped to see out of his guys Monday night along with what he’s seen out of his players throughout the first week of camp so far.

Heading into the intrasquad game, Boone’s hopes were to get a couple of innings out of both of tonight’s starting pitchers, J.A. Happ and Clarke Schmidt. Boone said it would be a great opportunity for the guys to get work in a live game situation, with the expectation of infielders playing four innings and outfielders playing three. He said you could expect to see some guys running and some not. The game would be at about three-fourths speed as they built it up and created live reps.

When asked about building players up, Boone stated he talks with the coaches and players every day and that the coaching staff makes really good evaluations. They speak with the players daily about where they’re at in order to build them up properly to be healthy & strong as they enter the season.

Prior to Monday’s Intrasquad game, Boone said that Clarke Schmidt has an excellent pitching repertoire, with athleticism and confidence on the mound. He has a clean delivery and a presence to him that tells you he belongs here (at Major League camp). He looked the part during Spring Training in March and the Yankees are excited about his development so far. Boone stated he was excited to see him go tonight and to start building.

J.A. Happ was the other starter in Monday night’s Intrasquad game. Prior to Monday’s intrasquad game, Boone stated that Happ looked terrific in the Spring. He was throwing the ball well and came in really ready to go. Boone stated that “If he’s healthy going out there, with his repertoire, he’s going to have a very J.A. Happ season.”

Following tonight’s simulated game, Manager Aaron Boone sat down for a few more minutes with the media.

Boone said it was weird playing in an empty stadium, but that it was important to build the guys up and get them used to play in a different environment that they’re going to be playing in. It’s also important to get the players used to the rules and protocols that are coming with playing during COVID-19 and following the protocols throughout each game.

Boone started by talking about J.A. Happ’s outing, stating that his stuff was solid, he mixed pitches and drove his count up. “He picked up where he left off in Spring Training,” stated Boone. “He came out and set a good tone for us.”

When asked what he saw out of Clarke Schmidt, Boone said, “He was excellent.” “He relished the opportunity of facing our guys in Yankee Stadium,” stated Boone. Boone explained how special of curveball Schmidt has and the quality of his pitching and command. “He did a great job tonight, “stated Boone. Schmidt has strong confidence on the mount and when he’s out there, he expects to be good.

Photo: Yankees Media Relations

Clarke Schmidt also met with the media after his first outing of Summer Camp.

When asked what it felt like to be pitching at Yankee Stadium, Schmidt said it was hard to put into words. “It’s a blessing in and of itself to be able to go out there and be in here day in and day out around the guys. To be able to throw this game, it was a lot of fun. It felt like more than an intrasquad game to me,” stated Schmidt. Schmidt stated that he felt good and his body felt good. With a goal to make the major league roster and to help his team, Schmidt said he can produce at this level and wanted to show his coaches that he can compete at this level day in and day out.

One thing Schmidt knows he has and his teammates and coaches echo, is his confidence. “First of all, I’m a man of faith. I’ve been extremely blessed and I recognize that I’m blessed by God. He’s given me so many talents and so many opportunities. I can’t help but feel an overwhelming feeling of confidence and whatever happens happens, and it’s in his hands, not mine,” stated Schmidt. “I’ve worked extremely hard at my craft and the work I put in is what you see on the field. The work I put in behind the scenes is what gives me that confidence.”

When asked about his strengths and weaknesses, Schmidt stated that everyone has things to work on and for him, being able to attack the zone and throw any pitch in any count is his strength. However, Schmidt says he would like to improve his changeup and his fourth and fifth pitches, as well as command his fastball better. He walked one batter and that bothered him on Monday night. He doesn’t like to give away free bases, so controlling his pitches is an area he hopes to improve on.

Overall, Schmidt stated that he felt really good tonight and that being able to face the starting lineup of the Yankees at Yankee Stadium was an awesome opportunity. “If I want to open a door or somebody’s eyes, tonight’s the night to do it,” stated Schmidt, who said that he built himself up in the moment and had a lot of fun tonight.

Photo: Yankees Media Relations

J.A. Happ was the starter for the second Yankees squad tonight. Happ stated that he felt great tonight. He stated that while it was a little bit strange, he was surprised at the adrenaline and competitive nature jumping back in tonight.

During the shutdown, Happ stated he stayed around 60 pitches through the quarantine, enough to build up and stay ready, yet at the same time not do too much.

Happ said he likes the way they (the Yankees) are progressing through Summer Camp and that it felt good to get back out there around game time and it feels to get back out there again. “That was exciting!” stated Happ. Happ also reiterated what Gerrit Cole said a couple of days ago in that when you’re facing guys on your own squad, it’s easier to have that back & forth about movement on pitches and guys are more willing to be open. “It’s good to get instant feedback from the hitters,” stated Happ.

Happ also gave his reactions on the rookie, Clarke Schmidt. He stated that in Spring Training, he seemed like a very nice and confident kid and that it showed on the mound Monday night. “You see his stuff and how it plays. He definitely has a bright future,” stated Happ.

Photo: Yankees Media Relations

Aaron Judge met with the media for his first Summer Camp press conference after tonight’s game.

Judge said he started swinging about two to four weeks ago and feels really good. “I’m game-ready, I’m feeling good,” stated Judge. Judge was down in Tampa during the shutdown and stated he got in the cages & on the field once in a while. He said he tried to push the coaching staff on his regimen because of how good he was feeling. Coming back, Judge stated that the biggest thing is getting his reps in and getting his timing back in the game. At the plate, Judge says he is seeing the ball well and trying to make good contact. He’s excited about facing the Yankees’ tough pitching staff. “We’re looking forward to it,” stated Judge.

Gerrit Cole will take the mound Tuesday and Judge faced him Thursday. His reaction: “He’s something special,” stated Judge. “To see the best in the game was pretty fun.” “He’s a competitor,” stated Judge. “He’s gonna go out there and get wins for you.

Giancarlo Stanton was also on the media list today.

As expected, he was asked about the Masahiro Tanaka incident and how he was feeling after that.

“That was a scary moment. For me, terrible initially, of course,” stated Stanton. “You never want to see a teammate on the ground, especially off the bat of yourself,” stated Stanton. Giancarlo has talked to Tanaka and stated he appears to be fine given the circumstances and that as long as he’s ok, Giancarlo stated he is ok. “That’s a scary thing and something that we really dodged something that could’ve been a lot worse. I’m just glad he’s ok,” stated Stanton, who also mentioned that the moment felt like slow motion. He wanted the ball to keep veering off and it didn’t. He is just glad that Masahiro is ok, and walked off awake and responsive.

Giancarlo, dealing with a calf injury during Spring Training, stated that he feels 100 percent and is on a good schedule to get it right this season.

Tonight was also a big night for Major League Baseball and the Yankees with the release of the 2020 schedule. When asked about the season, Gio Urshela stated that it’s important to be ready on day one. There is no room to have a bad start, so he said starting strong on day one is important.

Photo: Yankees Media Relations

Aaron Boone also gave his reaction to the schedule, pointing out staying in the East for the most part. “There’s a lot of formitable teams,” stated Boone. “It’s going to be a tough road and we look forward to that challenge and look forward to hopefully being ready to go when we head down to Washington in a couple weeks,” stated Boone. This is the season of adversity and Boone stated that part of being a big league player is being able to handle the adversities that are inevitable. “This year is a whole different ballgame and a whole different level of adversity that we couldn’t have even imagined going into the year,” stated Boone. “We’re equipped to deal with it.”

Boone, Stanton, Urshela, and Judge all echoed each other, saying that they all understand that this season is going to be a challenge and that it’s going to be something you take day by day. Urshela stated that it’s about paying attention and taking care of each other. “We have four months to lock it in, go through everything, follow the procedures and keep everyone safe,” stated Judge. He stated everyone has to be smart and hold each other accountable. Avoid spitting, eating seeds, going out, etc. for four months during the season.

Judge also stated something important in that the couple months during the shutdown were crucial. “It’s what we did from March all the way until now is what’s really going to separate us from teams,” stated Judge, who mentioned during his interview that everyone stayed ready to go and is chomping at the bit to get the season started. He’s ready to show the league what the Yankees have got.

Photo: Yankees Media Relations

The Yankees will play another Intrasquad game Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. Gerrit Cole will take the mound. Boones stated that with building up pretty well his first go around, that Boone hopes he can get three to four innings from Cole, with a pitching range of fifty to sixty pitches. They’ll take it inning by innings, but Cole has a potential to go four innings Tuesday night.

Pinstriped Prospects will continue to bring you news and information from Yankees Summer Camp, as well as pre and post-intrasquad game reactions Tuesday night.

Written By

Alexis Farinacci is a baseball beat writer and social media editor for the Pinstriped Prospects. Follow Alexis on Twitter & Instagram: @alexisfarinacci .

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