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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 6/1/17

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Bird starting rehab assignment; Judge 2nd in AL ASG ballot; Castro thriving as cleanup hitter; Baseball was always Judge’s calling

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at New York Yankees Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

New York Daily News | Mike Mazzeo: Good news is coming on the first base front. Tyler Austin is rehabbing and Greg Bird is set to begin his own rehab assignment today. Bird played three simulated innings yesterday and will join the Tampa Yankees and play six innings today. Also, Didi Gregorius was hit by a pitch on Tuesday, and though x-rays came back negative, he was out of the lineup yesterday. It was just a precaution, and Gregorius was available if Joe Girardi needed him.

New York Times | Billy Witz: Aaron Judge has dominated on offense, made spectacular plays of defense, and looks like the real deal so far. He’s taken the league by storm. The first All-Star Game ballots were released and Judge (730,438) had the most votes of anyone not named Bryce Harper (900,079) or Mike Trout (776,937). Next up in the outfield? Mookie Betts’ 337,473 votes. If his dominance continues, not only will he be an All-Star, but he could start. It’s to be determined whether he’ll be selected for the Home Run Derby, but at this point it’d be crazy if he wasn’t.

New York Post | George A. King III: Judge isn’t the only Yankee dominating the ASG ballots. Starlin Castro (516,269) currently holds a close lead among second basemen over Jose Altuve (515,732). While it’s likely Altuve overtakes Castro, it’s Castro’s hot start that even it this close. Most surprising of all, Castro’s mostly been doing it all from the cleanup spot which isn’t where he’d typically hit. Don’t fix what isn’t broke though, I guess.

Washington Post | Dave Sheinin: Aaron Judge’s size is probably his most talked-about feature. Everyone says he’s built like a football player. In high school, Judge was a football player and unsurprisingly he was as unstoppable as they come. Almost everyone who saw him play would agree that Judge could’ve had a career in the NFL. Judge’s passion, though, was always baseball. He fell in love with the sport at an early age and never had a doubt in his mind that this is what he should’ve pursued.