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Anthony Volpe is putting it together

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This story was excerpted from Bryan Hoch’s Yankees Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click hereAnd subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

It was a few hours before Wednesday’s game, and within the walls of Aaron Boone’s office in the visiting clubhouse at Target Field, the Yankees’ manager was wrestling with his lineup. Sure, Anthony Volpe‘s youthful energy and enthusiasm seem boundless, but even 22-year-olds need days off.

Boone pondered it, then shrugged and wrote Volpe’s name back into the leadoff spot. The rookie shortstop, whose birthday is Friday, rewarded that call with one of the best days of his budding career, going 2-for-3 with three runs scored, a double and two walks in New York’s 12-6 victory over the Twins. After a slow start at the plate, Volpe appears to be turning the corner.

“I think the most impressive [thing] is how he’s taking his walks,” said first baseman Anthony Rizzo. “That, for me, is a sign of maturity beyond his years, of being a 22-year-old rookie. When you’re not getting your hits, it’s easy to try to hit your way out of it. But to take your walks, to see pitches in the nine hole or leading off, it just sets our lineup up for success.”

Volpe opened his debut season at the bottom of the batting order, then was elevated to the leadoff spot after Giancarlo Stanton landed on the injured list earlier this month. Over a 10-game span beginning on April 16, Volpe posted a .278/.409/.389 slash line, seeing his on-base percentage boosted by working eight walks in 44 plate appearances.

“I’m just overall feeling pretty comfortable,” Volpe said. “I feel like I’m seeing the ball well, and I just want to put together good at-bats. As long as I feel like I’m doing that, I feel like I’m helping the team.”

Yankees captain Aaron Judge said that he loves the dynamic qualities Volpe provides. (How much? As recently reported by The Athletic, Judge quietly paid the bill from afar when Volpe went suit-shopping at a high-end Manhattan men’s store earlier this month, a gesture that stunned Volpe, who said it would be “something personal that sticks with you forever.”)

“I’ve had a chance to hit behind one of the best hitters in the game in DJ LeMahieu for the past couple of seasons,” Judge said. “Getting a chance to hit now behind Anthony and watch him work at-bats … he’s stealing bases, he’s active on the basepaths, which is going to allow me to get some better pitches to hit. He’s had impressive at-bats all around.”

Boone has said that, when the lineup is more complete, he could alternate between LeMahieu and Volpe in the leadoff spot. Judge noted that both players have unique table-setting abilities.

“With DJ, you’re going to see eight pitches when he’s up there, he’s going to foul some stuff off and taking some good pitches,” Judge said. “He’s probably going to be on first base and he’ll usually drive a baseball. Anthony, his singles turn into triples easy. He’ll get on first base, but you give him two pitches, he’ll be on second [base]. You give him another two pitches, he’ll probably be on third.

“So they both offer different things. I know with Anthony, I’ve just got to put the ball in play and he’s probably going to get to third or score. It’s fun having those two guys hitting in front of you, that’s for sure.”

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