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New season, same Judge: Yankees star hits home run on first at bat of year

The Aaron Judge of 2023 appears to be the same as the 2022 edition: the New York Yankees slugger hit a home run in his first at-bat of the new MLB season.

On a cold day in New York, launched a cutter from the San Francisco Giants’ Logan Webb 422ft into the stands at Yankee Stadium in the first inning. Judge hit 62 homers last season, which broke an American League record set by another Yankee, Roger Maris, in 1961.

The 30-year-old signed a nine-year $360m deal with the Yankees in December. He was also named the 16th captain in team history and the first since Derek Jeter retired in 2014.

The Yankees’ cross-city rivals got off to a less encouraging start on Thursday. Justin Verlander, who joined the New York Mets on a two-year, $86.66m deal in the off-season, was placed on the injured list with a muscle strain. The 40-year-old had been scheduled to make his debut for the Mets on Saturday against the Miami Marlins. Verlander won the World Series with the Houston Astros last season and also picked up the AL Cy Young Award.

Verlander will be reevaluated next week and continue throwing at “moderate intensity” in practice.

“This isn’t best-case scenario,” Verlander said on Thursday, before the Mets’ season opener against the Marlins. “But I would think this is probably second-best case. Very minimal.”

The Mets have already lost their All-Star closer, Edwin Diaz, for the season after he injured his knee celebrating a Puerto Rico victory at the World Baseball Classic.

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