CLEARWATER, Fla. — For his latest trick, Anthony Volpe nearly pulled a cycle out of his hat.
The Yankees shortstop, who is doing everything in his power to win the starting shortstop job, put together another strong day Saturday, hitting a triple, double and single in his first three at-bats before coming up a home run short of the cycle in an 8-3 win over the Phillies at BayCare Ballpark.
“He’s had a great spring so far,” said Aaron Judge, who was batting behind the leadoff hitter Volpe on Saturday. “He’s putting the ball in play, making the plays on defense, hustling, great, competitive at-bats. There’s a lot of things [that it takes] to play here in New York and those are some of the intangibles. Excited to see, at whatever point he’s up with us, what he can do for us.”
That point may be coming as soon as Opening Day, on Thursday in The Bronx, though the Yankees have yet to publicly declare a winner to the shortstop battle between Volpe, Oswald Peraza and, to a lesser extent, Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
Earlier this month, when asked a question about Volpe’s lack of Triple-A experience (22 games), Judge said that the best players should be playing for the Yankees, regardless of age.
With two days left in camp, Judge was asked whether Volpe, who will turn 22 next month, has been the best shortstop.
“It’s tough to say,” he said. “I don’t know, I haven’t seen all the guys. We’ve got Peraza, Volpe, IKF when he’s been there. There’s quite a few guys, but he’s definitely putting his name up there at the top.”
Through Saturday, Volpe was batting .314 with a 1.064 OPS across 17 games this spring.
Ten of Volpe’s 16 hits have gone for extra bases, and his triple on Saturday was born out of hustle.
To lead off the game, he hit a bloop to right field that got past Nick Castellanos, but Volpe never stopped running until he got to third.
“He’s certainly got everyone’s attention,” manager Aaron Boone said. “The veterans, I think he’s earned their respect. That’s what we expected from him and that’s what we know about him and that’s why you hear a lot about him, because of all those little things he does really well and he’s shown us that since the start of camp. I think guys have gravitated towards that.”