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Judge gets first day off in Houston opener

MLB.com @BryanHoch

HOUSTON -- Aaron Judge was spotted tinkering with the sound system in the visitors' clubhouse at Minute Maid Park on Monday afternoon, fulfilling his regular tasks as the Yankees' de facto in-house DJ by thumping Drake, J. Cole and Cardi B tunes on shuffle.

As for his duties between the white lines, the slugger received a well-deserved day off.

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HOUSTON -- Aaron Judge was spotted tinkering with the sound system in the visitors' clubhouse at Minute Maid Park on Monday afternoon, fulfilling his regular tasks as the Yankees' de facto in-house DJ by thumping Drake, J. Cole and Cardi B tunes on shuffle.

As for his duties between the white lines, the slugger received a well-deserved day off.

View Full Game Coverage

Judge played all but three innings in the Yankees' first 27 games of the season, and with the club in the midst of an 18-game stretch without an off-day, manager Aaron Boone selected the opener of the four-game set against the defending World Series-champion Astros for Judge to grab some pine.

"You've got to keep in mind, he's coming off offseason [left] shoulder surgery and he hasn't had a day off yet," Boone said. "Everything is good in that regard, but we also want to keep it that way. So it's been on my plate for the last few days to try and pick a day. I just felt today made the most sense of trying to give him a full day."

After playing in the Sunday night game at Anaheim, Boone said that the Yankees' early morning arrival on Monday factored into his thinking; the club did not check into their Houston hotel until after 4 a.m. CT. Boone also downplayed the significance of Judge's 3-for-17, 12-strikeout performance over the weekend against the Angels.

"Trust me, not writing Aaron's name in the lineup is not an easy thing to do," Boone said. "It's something that I've felt like we needed to do for these last several days, and I keep putting it off. At the end of the day, it's such a tough stretch of games, with the travel that we're under, that I just felt like this is the best thing. Playing the long game a little bit to keep us as fresh as possible."

Personally speaking
Regarding the relationship between Sonny Gray and Austin Romine, Boone eased off his statements from earlier in the month, when he said the Yankees would try to stay away from linking Gray with a personal catcher. Romine was behind the plate on Monday, and Boone said he liked the results from Gray's start against the Twins on Wednesday, adding that Gary Sanchez caught all three games in Anaheim.

"We kind of planned it out this week, knowing that Gary would probably catch all three [vs. the Angels]. And then with the long trip, we knew we wouldn't catch him here this first game," Boone said. "But it kind of coincides with Sonny, so as we go forward, we'll pick those spots where we'll do that from time to time. And this was a time through the rotation where it seemed to make some sense."

Gray entered Monday with a 2.58 ERA in 17 career starts with Romine (11 earned runs in 38 1/3 innings), and a 6.07 ERA in 11 starts with Sanchez (38 earned runs in 56 1/3 innings), including the postseason.

Bombers bits
Brandon Drury (severe migraines) will continue his rehab in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre through the Houston series, Boone said. Monday marked Drury's fifth contest with the RailRiders, playing third base and batting third against Buffalo.

"He's doing OK," Boone said. "He won't be here in Houston. He's going to continue the process. We feel like he's doing well, doing better. He's going to continue to go with his protocols and some of the treatments that he's been doing."

Tyler Austin's four-game suspension will expire after Monday's game, and Boone said that the first baseman/outfielder will be activated on Tuesday.

Clint Frazier (concussion) has been promoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The outfielder was 3-for-15 (.200) with a double, homer and RBI in four Minor League rehab games with Class A Advanced Tampa.

• Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson walked through the Yankees' clubhouse prior to Monday's game. "Mr. October" is recovering well after having right knee surgery during Spring Training.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge