TAMPA — After leading the majors in homers in the shortened 2020 season, what can Luke Voit do for an encore?
“Hit a bunch more,’’ Voit said Wednesday. “Work on my home-run trot.”
Actually, the Yankees first baseman said his focus this spring will be to continue to work on his defense, which he did with Carlos Mendoza in the offseason.
In particular, Voit pointed to the poor metrics he had on balls hit to his right.
He has done video work, in addition to field drills, in an effort to improve in that area.
Manager Aaron Boone added he expected Voit’s defense to get “an uptick” thanks to the fact he’s no longer dealing with the plantar fasciitis that plagued him for much of last season.
“He’s looked good so far,’’ Boone said.
Sunday isn’t just the first spring training game of the year for the Yankees, it will also be their first game with fans in the stands since last spring.
“That will be huge,’’ Giancarlo Stanton said. “We’re all looking forward to that.”
Capacity at Steinbrenner Field is typically around 9,600, and with 25 percent allowed, the Yankees expect a capacity of around 2,400.
Because of the pandemic, the Yankees were one of the teams that never played in a stadium that allowed any spectators. Fans were allowed for the NLCS and the World Series in Texas, but not for the ALDS in San Diego.
“No more fans through the speaker system,’’ Stanton said of the fake crowd noise that was pumped in to stadiums and was not especially popular with the players. “We need some live-action fans. It’s great for fans, as well. It’s good to get back to somewhat normalcy. We know it’s gonna be cool — not to the extent of normal, but better than nothing, for sure.”
Voit said he “can’t wait. It feels like it’s been five years since fans were here.”
Jameson Taillon threw his first live batting practice of the spring at Steinbrenner Field as he comes back from 2019 Tommy John surgery.
“He started a little slow, but I really liked how he finished,’’ Boone said. “His stuff got going as he went on and he got really crisp. … It was another good step.’’
If healthy, Taillon will be a big part of the rotation, along with Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber and Jordan Montgomery.
In addition to Domingo German, Boone wants to see how young pitchers such as Deivi Garcia and Nick Nelson do, as well as veterans Jhoulys Chacin and Asher Wojciechowski perform, especially since he expects the team to be “creative” in spacing out starts with off days in April.
“I’m looking forward to how it plays out,’’ Boone said.
Add Stanton to the list of players not surprised by former Mariners president Kevin Mathers, who resigned after making comments about Seattle manipulating service time to suppress players’ salaries.
“It’s nothing players did not know,’’ Stanton said. “It gives perspective of what some people in the front office think of us. There are organizations that look at us as a number or a line on a piece of paper, and that narrative should change. … It is a business, but you have to throw in some respect while you’re handling the business.”
Gio Urshela’s comeback from offseason elbow surgery is still going well, and the third baseman showed off some long throws on the back fields.
“I’m feeling really good,’’ said Urshela, who is expected to start playing in games early in spring training.