TAMPA, Fla. — New York Yankees star Aaron Judge hopes fluid conversions on a one-year deal or long-term contract can be completed before the team’s opener on April 7.

Judge was disappointed a deal wasn’t reached before Tuesday’s deadline to swap proposed arbitration salaries. He asked for a raise from $10,175,000 to $21 million, and the Yankees offered $17 million.

The slugging outfielder is eligible to become a free agent after the World Series.

“I think both sides, we want to come to an agreement,” Judge said Wednesday. “I know both filed numbers but that doesn’t mean the communication stops. Hopefully, we can continue to communicate and kind of find a number that works for both of us.”

Judge hit .287 with 39 homers and 98 RBI in 148 games last season. He turns 30 next month.

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner and General Manager Bran Cashman are open to working on a long-term deal. Judge has consistently said he will not talk about a new contract once the season begins


“We’ve both kind of talked about it but no numbers,” Judge said. “I’m optimistic but it’s a short window.”

If an agreement is not reached on a contract for 2022, an arbitration hearing would take place during the regular season.

“I’m not too happy about arbitration meetings,” Judge said. “I think both sides want to avoid that, go into that room, fight each other a little bit and bring out the boxing gloves, but I’m prepared for that.”

Judge reiterated he “wants to a Yankee for life.”

“I want to play here, I want to finish my career here,” Judge said. “There’s no better place to play.”

Rachel Balkovec, hired by the New York Yankees as the first woman to manage a minor league affiliate of a Major League Baseball team, was hit in the face by a batted ball during a drill and will be sidelined for up to a week.


Balkovec was struck Tuesday. She will not be available for her first scheduled spring training game Thursday with Class A Tampa.

The 34-year-old Balkovec didn’t sustain a concussion but has facial swelling, the Yankees said. She was involved in a hitting drill in an indoor cage at the minor league complex when she was hurt.

Balkovec has been instructed by team doctors to rest for the next five to seven days. She will be re-examined after the swelling goes down.

“All things considered, I feel very fortunate,” Balkovec said in a statement. “The doctors have asked me to be smart about limiting my activities over the next several days, and I plan on following their guidance. As much as I already miss being around the players and staff, I do not anticipate this affecting my role and responsibilities for the regular season.”

Balkovec is scheduled to manage her first regular-season game on April 8 at Lakeland.

ROCKIES: Jon Gray is out of the thin air of Colorado and into the Texas Rangers’ rotation.


“It’s a breath of fresh air. It almost feels like another life,” Gray said at the Rangers’ spring training home. “It helps me enjoy baseball more, too.”

It wasn’t a reflection on his time with the Rockies, just a change of scenery. And away from hitter-friendly Coors Field, too.

“It’s kind of a new look at everything,” he said. “It just sparks some more energy.”

Gray, 30, pitched seven seasons for Colorado after being the Rockies’ first-round pick (third overall) in 2013. He signed a four-year, $56 million contract with Texas just before the lockout began in December.

He goes to the top of the Rangers’ young rotation that will include Martin Perez, Taylor Hearn and Dane Dunning.

GUARDIANS: Bryan Shaw’s making his way back to Cleveland’s bullpen.


The rubber-armed reliever, who led the majors with 81 appearances last season, agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Guardians. The deal is pending a physical, but the 34-year-old Shaw is already in camp.

“He’s not here for his personality,” joked Manager Terry Francona, who couldn’t confirm the deal.

Shaw went 6-7 with a 3.49 ERA in 2021 with Cleveland in the first year of his second stint with the club. Shaw was with the Guardians from 2013-17 and appeared in at least 70 games each season.

He left as a free agent with Colorado and spent three years there before re-signing with Cleveland before last season.

Shaw provides stability and dependability for Francona, who has never hesitated to hand the ball to the right-hander and will do so again.

Shaw’s younger teammates dubbed him “Uncle Bryan” last season. In addition to being an available option for Francona, Shaw’s depth of knowledge and experience makes him invaluable to one of baseball’s youngest teams.


RANGERS: The Texas Rangers renewed the contract of All-Star outfielder Adolis Garcia for the 2022 season, and signed their 28 other prearbitration eligible players to one-year deals.

Garcia hit .243 with 31 homers and 90 RBI last year, his first full big-league season. The 29-year-old right fielder from Cuba played 21 games for St. Louis at the end of the 2018 season, and played in three games for Texas during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

REDS: Right-hander Tyler Mahle will start for the Cincinnati Reds on Opening Day April 7 in Atlanta against the World Series champion Braves.

The 27-year-old Mahle tied for the major league lead with 33 starts last season, finishing with a team-best 13-6 record with a 3.75 ERA.

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