“Both of those guys took a dramatically different approach this offseason from what they’ve previously done,” Cressey said during an appearance on YES Network Thursday night, as transcribed by the New York Post. “I’d say in both cases, they lifted less than they have in the past.”
Injuries led to Judge playing in 112 games in 2018 and only 102 in 2019 following an impressive debut in 2017 when he burst upon the MLB scene by leading the American League in home runs, winning the AL Rookie of the Year award and coming in second in AL MVP voting.
In 2020, a cracked rib and a punctured lung short-circuited his spring training, and Judge ended up playing in only 32 regular-season games in MLB’s truncated 60-game schedule due to a Grade 1 right calf strain.
Judge alluded to shaking things up in his offseason routine in November, saying his goal was to figure out how to put his chronic injury woes behind him. Cressey mentioned Thursday just how Judge is going about accomplishing as much.
“Aaron in particular has taken a heavy interest in a lot of yoga. We’ve had a great instructor in Dana Santas who’s come in and helped out at our spring-training complex. Not just Aaron, but Luke [Voit] and Mike Ford and Thairo [Estrada] and Nick Nelson, a lot of those guys who are down there. So that’s something that I think is important.
“But also, we have to be mindful of the stresses on guys who are 6-foot-7, 6-foot-8. Big dudes who are standing around for long periods of time in cleats. Those are things that normal people don’t encounter. So I think we’ve understood their preparation has to be markedly different in terms of not just building them up as athletes, but building them up as baseball players where there is a gradual on-ramping of those specific stressors. Running the bases, changing directions, swinging. So both of those guys are in a good place.”
Stanton, like Judge, had his 2020 campaign stall even before it started due to a calf injury, and he ultimately missed five and a half weeks of the season due to a strained left hamstring. Across the 2019 and 2020 campaigns, Stanton appeared in only 41 games.
Big changes are underway with Stanton, however, and hopefully with some encouraging results, a positive outcome.
“It was really a testament to how open-minded he had been to attacking things a little bit different, and so I’m really excited to get some more time with those guys in person,” Cressely said of Stanton specifically and of Judge as well.