Judge's next Seattle fireworks on hold

June 26th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Bryan Hoch’s Yankees Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

When the Yankees visited Seattle late last month, seemed like a lock to return to T-Mobile Park for the July 11 All-Star Game. That still could be the case, though unfortunately, it would be as a spectator.

Judge is the Yankees’ lone position player candidate as All-Star voting shifts into Phase 2 on Monday at 12 p.m. ET. The reigning American League Most Valuable Player was last year’s leading vote-getter in Phase 1 balloting, with more than 3.7 million votes. He would be in line for his third straight All-Star selection (fifth overall).

Gerrit Cole (8-1, 2.78 ERA) and Clay Holmes (2.51 ERA and 9 saves in 34 appearances) also have strong cases to be selected as AL All-Stars. Pitcher and position player reserves are determined via “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the Commissioner’s Office. The complete All-Star rosters will be announced on ESPN July 2 at 5:30 p.m. ET.

During that series in Seattle, Judge enjoyed what manager Aaron Boone called “one of the great individual games you’ll see” on May 29, homering twice and making a terrific leaping catch at the right-field wall to rob Teoscar Hernández of a dinger.

Judge has had a few remarkable offensive performances in the Emerald City over the years, including a Statcast-breaking home run in the summer of 2017 that still may not have landed.

“It’s a beautiful park,” Judge said after the May 29 game. “They always have a packed stadium. It was loud, it was rowdy from the first pitch, so I just like big games like that.”

The narrative, of course, shifted later during that West Coast trip. Judge made another terrific defensive play on June 3 at Dodger Stadium, robbing J.D. Martinez of an extra-base hit before crashing through a bullpen gate in right field. As he did so, Judge banged his right foot into a slim concrete portion at the base of the fence.

Judge has received weeks of treatment, including two platelet-rich plasma injections, and revealed for the first time this past weekend that he tore a ligament in his right big toe (the Yankees had previously described Judge’s injury only as a contusion and sprain).

"I don’t think too many people in here have torn a ligament in their toe,” Judge said on Saturday. “If it was a quad, we’d have a better answer. If it’s an oblique or hamstring, we have answers and a timeline for that. With how unique this injury is, and it being my back foot -- which I push off of and run off of -- it’s a tough spot.”

The club has provided no official timetable for Judge’s return. Based upon the available information, Dr. Spencer Stein of NYU Langone Health -- a sports orthopedic surgeon who has not treated Judge -- said that his best-case scenario for Judge’s return would be approximately two months from the date of injury, which would be on or around Aug. 3.

“If I could run, we’d be out there,” Judge said. “If I could run, I’d be out there playing defense, doing my thing. We’d figure out hitting. But if I can’t move, that’s the main hurdle we have to get over. … The biggest thing is, the big toe is what you push off the back side [when] hitting. I’ve got to make sure [there is] the balance, and being able to transfer the weight is going to be the biggest key. Once we get over that hurdle, then we get into running and hitting.”

The Yankees have struggled in Judge’s absence, winning just eight of 18 games since the captain’s daring play in Los Angeles. However, they showed grit by rallying behind Harrison Bader’s go-ahead hit to topple the American League West-leading Rangers on Sunday afternoon in the Bronx.

“The reality is, we’re without him right now,” Boone said. “We’ve got to find a way to get it done. And again, we have the people in there to get it done. We’ve just got to do a better job right now of putting pressure on the opposing pitchers and defense.”