Aaron Judge disappointed by Yankees fans’ chants for Juan Soto as Trent Grisham bats

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NEW YORK — It was impossible not to hear the chants as New York Yankees outfielder Trent Grisham stood in the box against Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow. Chants of “We Want Soto” echoed off Yankee Stadium’s facade. ESPN’s cameras panned to Soto during the chants, as the superstar lowered his hat and laughed as thousands screamed for him to be in the box instead of Grisham.

With one out and runners on the corners in the bottom of the sixth inning with the Yankees trailing 3-2, Grisham was an unlikely candidate to deliver the go-ahead run. He had a .082 batting average, just four hits in 61 plate appearances this year, and was facing one of MLB’s best starters in Glasnow. It’s understandable why fans would want Soto, an American League MVP candidate, to hit in a big spot.

Dodgers catcher Will Smith called for a fastball up-and-away but Glasnow missed his location and left a 97 mph four-seamer down the middle that Grisham hit 394 feet over the right-field wall for a three-run home run to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead. As soon as the ball left Grisham’s bat, he immediately tossed it in the air in a moment of defiance to the fans chanting for someone else instead of him. Yankees captain Aaron Judge did not appreciate the fans who weren’t supportive of Grisham at that moment.

“Grisham works his butt off every single day,” Judge said. “Soto is out right now. He’s going to be back soon. He’s been carrying this team all year. Any time you go up against good teams like this and fans pay to come see us do our thing, they want to see the best out there. Soto is going to heal up and be fine, but Grish is a heck of a ballplayer. He showed up in a big moment when we needed him. I wasn’t too happy with it.

“But I think he got his point across there with that homer.”

In Grisham’s next plate appearance in the bottom of the eighth inning, Yankees fans chanted “We Want Grisham.” It was a redeemable moment for the crowd and one that he appreciated. He said he didn’t use the Soto chants as motivation before hitting his home run, but he smiled widely when asked if he heard his own chant.

“I heard them coming up in my next at-bat,” Grisham said. “I liked those, too.”

Grisham batted fifth in the Yankees lineup Sunday night with first baseman Anthony Rizzo benched as he works through struggles. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he hit Grisham fifth in the order because he didn’t want a string of right-handed hitters in the lineup to make for easier pitching matchups for the Dodgers.

With Soto out since Friday because of mild forearm inflammation, Grisham was given his biggest opportunity in pinstripes thus far. In the three-game series, Grisham went 2-for-8 with the three-run home run being the difference in the Yankees’ lone series win.

Boone said Soto was “probably” not an option off the bench in Sunday’s game but didn’t rule out the possibility of him being ready to play as early as Monday’s game in Kansas City. When Soto returns, Boone said he should be available in the field and won’t have to solely be a designated hitter.

After Grisham’s home run, he has five hits this season — three of them are home runs. He is now batting .100 with a .538 OPS in 25 games as the Yankees’ fourth outfielder. He’s started in just 18 of the Yankees’ 67 games. The Yankees acquired Grisham in the same trade that landed them Soto, and they wanted him, too, because he’s a two-time Gold Glove Award winner who they believed had untapped potential with his bat.

He hasn’t played much this season because the Yankees haven’t needed him. The outfielders have stayed healthy until this weekend with Soto’s minor injury, and Giancarlo Stanton has avoided the injured list. All along, Boone has stressed that Grisham would eventually have a role on the Yankees. His belief in him paid off Sunday.

“I’m just excited for him because he’s been a really good teammate through all this,” Boone said. “He’s just been ready. He’s accepted his role and here he’s got a little bit of an opportunity this week and he’s taking advantage of it.”

There is one person involved in Sunday’s game who, in hindsight, wishes the fans would’ve gotten their way. Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he somehow didn’t hear the crowd chanting but deadpanned when he was asked about them.

“I guess, in that one moment in time, I would have rather had Soto up to bat,” he said.

(Photo of Trent Grisham tossing his bat after hitting a three-run home run: Brad Penner / USA Today)

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