'Barring a late setback,' Judge could return as soon as Friday

July 27th, 2023

NEW YORK -- continued to look good in workouts at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, Fla., and the club is hopeful that it could have the reigning American League MVP back in the lineup as soon as Friday against the Orioles in Baltimore.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after Wednesday's 3-1 victory over the Mets that he did not know if Judge would be activated for the Baltimore series, but he acknowledged that Judge traveled back to New York during the game. The New York Post reported earlier in the day that "barring a late setback," Judge will be with the Bombers at Camden Yards.

“I don't know yet," Boone said. "He came back here; he's back in New York and we'll see where we're at [Thursday]. I'm not sure if he's going to run through a workout or if rehab stuff is on the table."

The Yankees have struggled mightily without Judge, who was batting .291/.404/.674 with 19 home runs and 40 RBIs through 49 games, when he sustained a torn ligament in his right big toe by crashing into the right-field bullpen gate at Dodger Stadium.

Though he is not pain-free, Judge has been accelerating baseball activities in recent days, including several days of live batting practice. Judge was scheduled to face rehabbing right-hander Jonathan Loáisiga on Wednesday, the second time that he has done so.

Asked about the possibility of Judge returning on Friday, outfielder Harrison Bader said: "I certainly hope that's the case, but his timeline is his timeline. It's most important that he feels comfortable where he's at. I've had some foot stuff in the past and it's no joke, so I wish him the best. I hope that everything goes really well and we get him back."

Boone said that Judge took four or five at-bats on Tuesday, including a home run. He also ran bases and played five innings of defense, though Boone said that Judge did not see much activity in the outfield.

“They were hoping to simulate some more action [Wednesday], even if it meant getting fungoes, moving him side to side, getting him on the bases a little bit,” Boone said.

The Yankees have gone 19-23 (.452) since Judge’s injury, the fourth-worst record in the AL over that span, trailing only the Royals (12-33), A’s (16-27) and White Sox (16-26). The Yanks are 5-1 vs. Kansas City and Oakland during that stretch, and 14-22 against all other clubs.

"Part of it was, we had some guys go through some struggles," Boone said. "And you can say that's because Aaron wasn't in there, which certainly could be a factor, but I wouldn't say that's all of it. We've had our share of struggles. I don't think that's all correlated. That'll be the story and I understand that, but it's not necessarily all of it."