NEW YORK — Walk into the New York Yankees’ spring training clubhouse in Tampa, turn left and then hang a quick right. Inside that small room with a few tables and a buffet-like spread is where players, coaches and staff eat breakfast and lunch. It’s also where Jasson Domínguez sat gobsmacked by team captain Aaron Judge after meeting him for the first time in February.
Judge, Domínguez and a few other players sat together for a meal and made small talk. Domínguez and Judge happened to finish eating at about the same time, and it was time to move on with their days. Judge grabbed his empty plate and stood up. He noticed only scraps were left on Domínguez’s plate, too.
So, Judge — fresh off signing a $360 million contract and 11 years older than Domínguez — grabbed the kid’s plate and threw it out with his on his way out of the room.
It was a small gesture that meant the world to The Martian.
“I told all of my family, ‘Judge took my plate!’” Domínguez said recently. “It was a big surprise to me.”
Domínguez said one of the biggest things he noticed in spring training and during his short major-league stint this year was Judge’s leadership.
Judge let out a light laugh when he was reminded of the move.
“We’re all in this together,” Judge said, who also covered the costs for rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe’s first road trip suits just before Opening Day.
“I was getting up, and I had somewhere to be, but I saw (Domínguez) was done, so it was just, ‘I’m heading this way anyway. Let me take this for you, man. Hang out here.’ I think there were a couple of other guys with us, too. I don’t know. I’ve always tried to do that. Other guys have done that for me. We’re a team. It doesn’t matter if he’s in High A or Low A or just got drafted. You’re still wearing the pinstripes. You’re still wearing the ‘NY’ logo. You’re still part of this team. At some point, we’re going to be teammates.”
Judge and Domínguez, in fact, were actual teammates this season — for eight games. Determined to look toward 2024 while nearing the end of a terrible 2023 season, the Yankees, then in last place, called up Domínguez and top catching prospect Austin Wells on Sept. 1. The center fielder immediately impressed, hitting .258 (8-for-31) with four homers, seven RBIs and a .980 OPS. Domínguez also homered in his first major-league at-bat, just like Judge did in 2016.
Then a torn UCL in his right elbow ended Domínguez’s season. He’s set to have Tommy John surgery to reconstruct the ligament on Wednesday, and he might not be Judge’s on-field teammate again until he’s fully recovered in June or July. But in a memorable season for Domínguez, a brief moment with Judge will be among the ones that stand out.
“That for me was awesome,” Domínguez said. “I didn’t know he was going to do that. He’s the captain. He’s the guy. He’s so good.”
Right-hander Clarke Schmidt will…
Read More: Yankees’ Jasson Domínguez’s special Aaron Judge story: ‘I told all my family’ 2023-09-19 23:14:59