Anthony Volpe’s Yankees debut is finally here
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As the Yankees packed up the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park on Tuesday and prepared to fly to New York with meaningless spring games finally behind them, Aaron Judge thought of one more detail that needed to be worked out before Opening Day.
The Yankees’ captain was talking about, who else, Anthony Volpe, and said that he needed to remind the 21-year-old shortstop of another important matter that will be on his plate Thursday afternoon in The Bronx: figuring out a way to salute the Bleacher Creatures during roll call in the top of the first inning.
“I gotta talk to him about that, but he probably knows,” Judge said.
The kid from New Jersey who grew up a diehard Yankee fan?
Of course he knew.
“I gotta think about what I’m going to do, because some of the guys have asked me,” Volpe said.
Add it to Volpe’s to-do list — he crossed one item off on Wednesday when he settled on wearing number 11 for the regular season — ahead of a day that will be full of firsts as he makes his MLB debut in front of more than 46,000 fans at Yankee Stadium, including a boatload of family and friends.
“Him getting a chance to have his first Opening Day at Yankee Stadium in front of family and friends, man, what an opportunity,” said Judge, who was the last Yankees rookie in an Opening Day lineup in 2017. “I’m excited for him. He’s going to be nervous, there’s going to be jitters, but what I’ve seen in camp, that kind of stuff doesn’t faze him. Just go out there and do what got him in this position.”
About the only time Volpe outwardly showed any nerves this spring was when he was called into Aaron Boone’s office on Sunday to find out if he had made the roster.
The rest of camp, he gave off calm and confident vibes as he dominated the shortstop competition.
The Yankees won’t need Volpe to do anything more than what he did over the last six weeks.
He will begin the season batting ninth — a move not necessarily intended to take pressure off of him, Boone said, though it won’t hurt.
And Gerrit Cole noted it was important for Volpe to know that he has teammates he can lean on — specifically mentioning “the big man,” Judge, and the “guys on the corners” in veterans Josh Donaldson and Anthony Rizzo.
But the Yankees also believe Volpe has the makeup — which was raved about as much as his talent during his rise through the minors — to handle the expectations and pressure that will come with starting the season in the big leagues after just 22 games in Triple-A.
“In a way, he’s been bred for this,” Boone said. “For being a young man and being 21, he’s as equipped as anyone to handle it. That’s one of the reasons why we ultimately decided that now is the time because we feel like he is, from a makeup standpoint, equipped to handle all that’s going to come.
“There’s going to be bumps and things he’s gotta navigate that he’s never experienced before, but I do feel like his makeup will be able to handle it.”