TAMPA, Fla. -- Searching for silver linings in baseball’s pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Yankees have spoken frequently about the additional time that Aaron Judge has for his fractured right rib to heal. That doesn’t mean it has been easy to keep the slugger out of the batting cage.
Judge has spent the last two months continuing to work out at the George M. Steinbrenner Field facility, having undergone multiple imaging tests that are showing continued progress, according to general manager Brian Cashman. Hitting coach Marcus Thames said that Judge is eager to resume swinging a bat, which he has not done since early March.
“It's been tough,” Thames told the YES Network on Thursday. “He walks by the cage. He comes in to help the guys pick up balls, and he really wants to get going, but we’re just trying to stay safe. When the doctors turn him loose, he'll be ready to go. He's champing at the bit to get out there and start working hard on his swing.”
One of the earliest-arriving Yankees for Spring Training, Judge appeared at the club’s Player Development complex in late January, but he eventually shut down on-field hitting due to discomfort in his right shoulder and right pectoral area. Multiple MRIs, bone scans, X-rays and CT scans were taken before the fractured rib was announced on March 6.
Judge later revealed that he was also dealing with a pneumothorax, or a collapsed lung. The team believes the injuries can be traced to a dive in the Yankee Stadium outfield last Sept. 18.
“Once we resume play, we're excited to believe that he's going rejoin us at full capacity,” Cashman said last week.
Thames said that outfielder/designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton, who was sidelined during Spring Training due to a right calf strain, is expected to be ready when the season begins.
“He's been looking good,” Thames said of Stanton. “I think his swing is where it needs to be. We've been hitting off the machine and hitting BP on the field. He's a pro. He comes in and gets his work in and we’re trying to make sure he's healthy and ready to go. I think his teammates are excited about that.”
The group of Yankees continuing to work out at Steinbrenner Field has included rehabbing players in Judge, Stanton and right-hander Luis Severino, plus infielders Miguel Andújar, Mike Ford, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres and Tyler Wade. Left-hander J.A. Happ has also used the complex since Florida’s Hillsborough County lifted its stay-at-home order in late April.
Other Yankees hitters have continued to send video of their cage work to Thames and assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere, as they would in the offseason.