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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 7/3/21

Aaron Judge calls players-only meeting; Aroldis Chapman working on mechanics; Pitching prospects interviewed; Yankee alums in Olympics on Team USA; Injury updates

Kansas City Royals v. New York Yankees Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images | Brendan Kuty: Aaron Judge revealed that he called a players-only meeting earlier in the week in order to air out some thoughts. Judge became a leader in a hurry back in 2017 and has been central to the Yankees’ run since then, so with that core facing its greatest test yet in the dismal first half to a season in which they had championship aspirations, he felt like he had to say something. Given that the Wednesday collapse against the Angels happened after the Tuesday meeting, we can’t act like it was a cure-all, but hey — the big guy is trying.

New York Daily News | Kristie Ackert: To say that Aroldis Chapman has been struggling lately would be an understatement. He went from nearly unhittable through June 6th to surrendering 11 runs in 8 games since then — a cool 17.47 ERA with 8 walks and 3 homers allowed in just 5.5 innings. He’s blown two saves, suffered two losses, and only escaped a third in each category because of a miraculous triple play. It’s only a little bit suspicious that his collapse coincided with MLB’s crackdown on foreign substances*, though Aaron Boone has said that bullpen coach Mike Harkey has spotted “a few minor things” in his delivery to get him back on track. We’ll see.

*Chapman, of course, has denied a connection and instead blames fastball command

FanGraphs | David Laurila: FanGraphs spoke to two Yankees prospects currently at Double-A Somerset: JP Sears and the recently-promoted Ken Waldichuk. The two pitchers discussed how they’ve posted terrific strikeout rates this season and how they approach improving their craft. Waldichuk’s spin and wide repertoire have been key to his ascent, and Sears has cleaned up his delivery to regain his K form. He focuses more on deception than spin.

USA Baseball: The official 2021 United States Olympic baseball team has been announced, and it features some old friends. Former Yankees reliever David Robertson is back after securing Team USA’s qualifier victory, as is one 2017 teammate, Todd Frazier. Another on the club now is Tyler Austin, who homered in his first career MLB at-bat right before Judge on August 13, 2016 and played in New York from then until being dealt to the Twins at the 2018 trade deadline. Austin now stars in Japan for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars (1.109 OPS & 17 homers in 57 games!), but he’ll be on Team USA for the Olympics in late July.

Lastly, some quick hits on injury updates:

  • As posted here yesterday, Clint Frazier was placed on the injured list with what’s currently being described as vertigo but may be something else. The just-acquired Tim Locastro took his roster spot.
  • Zack Britton tested his hamstring and played catch at Yankee Stadium yesterday. He’s scheduled to pitch off a mound today, though we’ll see if the forecast changes it.
  • Luis Severino is “getting close” to throwing off a mound again as well, per Boone.
  • Not an injury update, but worth repeating that shortstop prospect Anthony Volpe is now listed among Baseball America’s Top 100.