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How a video game brought together Aaron Judge and one Red Sox prospect

March 23, 2018 - 11:21 am

Justin Haley just has to tip his hat to Aaron Judge.

"He's definitely better than me," said the Red Sox pitching prospect.

It takes a lot for Haley to admit this. Hours and hours of competition have been invested. But this is all about the scoreboard, and in this case, that doesn't lie. When it comes to the video game "Fortnite" Judge is just flat-out superior. 

For Haley, however, that's OK. Giving up home runs to the Yankees slugger is one thing, but the trade-off of getting bested in the online survival game in exchange for the time to catch up with his college buddy is worth it.

"He's the same dude. We just always go and play Fortnite together. Just the same dude," said Haley, who teamed up with Judge at Fresno State. "He and I never really talk baseball. Neither of us wants to talk about baseball off the field. We just want to hang out and chill. He's good for that."

Haley, who is slated to start 2018 in the Pawtucket Red Sox' starting rotation, can still remember showing up to his new college team after spending two years in junior college and getting a glimpse of Judge. After the initial shock of seeing a 6-foot-8 outfielder, it became clear the two were going to hit it off.

"We lived in the same complex, next door to each other. We would hang out all the time," Haley said. "We got really close. Obviously, he was the biggest dude any of us had ever seen. We all thought he was a football player. We were like, 'Are you lost or something?' Right away you knew he was a cool, friendly guy. A gentle giant. He's the nicest guy but he's going to be the fiercest competitor, you learn that when you start playing."

The friendship hasn't waned, with Haley and Judge continuing to work out together at a Los Angeles-area guy in the offseason. And now, after a spring training of connecting via their video game showdowns, the pair met up again, with the pitcher getting a crack at his buddy in Tampa Friday.

"Everybody who knew him knew that was coming. We all knew he'd been a stud for years. We definitely knew it was going to come," said Haley of Judge's monster 2017 season. "The effort. The work that he put in. I trained with him in the offseason and the dude gets after it. Every single day he's the first one in the gym and the last one out. His strength. His focus. You knew everything was going to come around for the guy. He works his tail off."

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