Judge taking break from swinging bat after getting MRI on abs

March 12th, 2024

TAMPA, Fla. – underwent an MRI on Monday after reporting discomfort in his abdominal area and expects to resume swinging a bat later this week, with the Yankees outfielder saying that his goal is to be ready for Opening Day.

“We ran tests, and everything came back good,” Judge said. “It’s just what I told them, I was a little banged up and needed a couple of days. Hopefully we’ll get back out there soon.”

Judge said that the discomfort was in the middle of his abs -- noting that it was not his oblique -- and that he feels it most on the follow-through of his swing. Judge believes that it stems from the work he has been doing over the offseason.

“I think just from swinging from November all the way until now, every single day, it put some wear and tear on it,” Judge said. “Especially coming back after a [right big] toe injury when your mechanics are a little messed up and you’re just working on some things.

“I think it’s just part of being a baseball player every day. I’d rather take a couple of days now, when these games don’t matter, than miss some games in April or May.”

On Monday, Yankees manager Aaron Boone had described Judge as being “mid-spring beat up,” adding that he planned to play Judge on Wednesday against the Red Sox.

That will likely not happen. Though Judge was listed in a batting practice group on Tuesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field, Judge skipped that, though he did perform outfield drills.

“The most important thing is getting ready for Opening Day,” Judge said.

Speaking to reporters in Dunedin, Boone said that Judge is now “more likely” to return to the lineup during the weekend.

“Nothing [changed] other than us saying, ‘Why are we rushing to get in there mid-week if we’re not totally ready?’” Boone said. “I get that it’s Aaron Judge, but I don’t expect it to be an issue.”

Judge exited Sunday’s 9-8 Grapefruit League victory over the Braves after two at-bats; Boone and Judge both said that the early exit was pre-planned, a stance that Judge maintained on Tuesday.

"No, we were scheduled to do two [at-bats], so it kind of worked out," Judge said. "It's something I've kind of felt for a week, just something slight. I was like, 'You know what? Instead of pushing through it, we’ve got some time.' Let's take some time and make sure we're right."

Judge has played in six Grapefruit League games this spring, collecting two hits in 14 at-bats (.143), with a double, one RBI, two walks and three runs scored. Judge said that he'd like to have about 30 at-bats before Opening Day, and that he would resume swinging a bat "maybe later this week."

"There's no real need to push it right now," Judge said.

It has been a turbulent week for the Yankees on the injury front. Ace right-hander Gerrit Cole underwent an MRI on his pitching elbow Monday; the team has not announced the results or a timetable for Cole’s return, though his Opening Day start appears to be in jeopardy.

"To see him the other night where he's still throwing 95, 97 miles an hour -- I know he’s not bouncing back the way he [wants], but that guy's a perfectionist,” Judge said. “I’m hoping for the best news, even if it’s him being out a couple of weeks. I’ll take that over anything worse. We’re all praying for the best.”