BOSTON — Aaron Judge swore he didn’t hear the constant booing from the four straight sellout crowds at Fenway Park this weekend — or the “overrated” chant in the 13th inning on Saturday night.
“When I’m stepping into the box, I’m surveying what’s going on with what’s on the field and coming up with a game plan,” Judge said this weekend. “I’m so locked in to what I’ve got to do, outside noises don’t affect me. I’m focused on my job.”
His teammates agree that the rookie, who was playing in just his second series in Boston, wouldn’t be affected by being the new focus of Red Sox fans’ ire, but the results weren’t good.
Judge went just 1-for-18 against the Red Sox and has two hits in 24 at-bats at Fenway Park. His .450 OPS at Fenway is the worst of any venue in the majors.
Still, it wasn’t until these last four games, when Judge was fresh off his breakout performance at the Home Run Derby last week in Miami, that he truly took center stage.
It started in batting practice, when both Red Sox and Yankees fans made sure to watch whenever Judge stepped in the cage.
Jacoby Ellsbury, no stranger to hearing the wrath of Red Sox fans, noticed both reactions.
“I heard them before the game cheering his BP,” the former Boston outfielder said. “Everyone wants to see a show — until it’s against them.”
And in those sessions, Judge did not disappoint, routinely blasting shots over the Green Monster, and everything else.
Even then, Judge said he didn’t hear the reaction from the thousands who made sure to arrive early enough to see the visiting team take batting practice.
“I don’t pay much attention to that,” Judge said. “I’m focused on what I need to do to get ready for the game. Whether people are cheering or booing. I don’t really hear it.”
There was no doubt what they were doing once the game started.
Each plate appearance by Judge was treated the same way, with a loud chorus of boos. And Judge, whose swing looked just fine during batting practice, did not produce his typical power during the games.
Regardless of how many hits Judge typically gets over the course of a few games, he usually makes harder contact than most.
Not against the Red Sox — at least until he gave David Price a scare in the eighth inning on Sunday night, when Jackie Bradley Jr. made a spectacular catch to rob Judge of a home run that would have gotten the Yankees to within a run.
Most of the time, he stepped to the plate to boos and left to cheers, having made another out.
Matt Holliday, one of Judge’s mentors, is confident the atmosphere didn’t get to the slugger.
“I think it can, depending on who it is,” Holliday said. “I don’t think it’s gonna bother him. He’s not the kind of guy to let that affect him. And he’s right, when you’re hitting, you very rarely hear anything because it’s all white noise. On defense is where you notice it most because there’s a lot of down time, but it’s normally just a few people then.”
And it won’t be the last time Judge gets this treatment, but Holliday doesn’t expect it anywhere else.
“This will probably be the only place he gets much of it because of the rivalry,” Holliday said. “Fans seem to like watching him play. And they only go after you here when you’re a star or they can see stardom on the horizon.”
Which is why Holliday believes Judge should enjoy it.
“It’s a respect thing you earn,” Holliday said. “If they don’t notice you, you’re probably not doing anything.”
Judge wasn’t sure how he felt about it.
“I don’t know if it’s an honor or not,” Judge said. “That’s why they come to the game: They’re buying a ticket to cheer on their team and boo the opponent. That’s what they’re supposed to do.”
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