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Judge goes on IL with 'significant' oblique strain

@feinsand
April 21, 2019

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge became the latest Yankee to land on the injured list, and as much as the team misses its leader and biggest offensive threat, the slugger believes his club will succeed during his absence. “They’re going to be just fine,” Judge said. “Just like you guys

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge became the latest Yankee to land on the injured list, and as much as the team misses its leader and biggest offensive threat, the slugger believes his club will succeed during his absence.

“They’re going to be just fine,” Judge said. “Just like you guys saw today.”

Judge spoke with reporters after the Yankees’ 10-inning, walk-off win over the Royals, a game that saw New York lose a five-run lead in the eighth before grinding out the 7-6 victory.

“Guys step up; that’s how it is,” Judge said. “Me out for however long, it’s going to mean other guys get a chance to get some playing time, to show what they’ve got and step up and produce for us at the highest level. It’s the one thing out of all this I’m excited about, guys getting a chance to go out there and perform.”

Judge sustained a strained left oblique on a swing in the sixth inning on Saturday, and he was placed on the IL on Sunday. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said on Sunday that Judge’s oblique strain was "pretty significant." There is no timetable for Judge's return, according to the skipper.

“These next couple weeks will kind of be a lot of just the healing process,” Boone said. “Once we get through these first couple weeks, we’ll have a better timeline for you. It would be kind of vague right now.”

“It’s tough,” Judge said. “That was one of my goals; I didn’t want to get back on the [IL] or anything, especially tough times like this when guys are beat up. I wanted to be out there in the trenches with the guys every single day, fighting through some tough times.”

The Yankees recalled Thairo Estrada from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take Judge's spot, and he laid down a sacrifice bunt to set up Austin Romine's game-winning hit in the 10th.

With Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks on the IL, the Yankees’ outfield currently consists of Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier and Mike Tauchman, with Tyler Wade serving as the fourth outfielder.

Judge traveled with the team to the West Coast, so while his bat won’t be in the lineup to help on the field, he will continue to be a presence around the team.

“I expect his leadership to continue to a degree,” Boone said. “It’s undeniable arguing this is one of the greatest players in the sport; an all-around player, what he brings defensively, the way he turns the bases, obviously what he is offensively. You miss that. That’s huge. He’ll continue to influence his teammates like he does, and we’ll continue to expect that from him.”

This marks Judge’s third career stint on the injured list. His 2016 season ended with a right oblique injury, and he missed more than a month in '18 with a chip fracture in his right wrist.

“I don’t think it’s as bad as the one I did in ’16,” said Judge, who was hitting .288 with five home runs this season. “But it’s a different side. We’ll see what happens.”

The Yankees have dealt with a number of injuries this season, as well as the recovery from players who were hurt at the end of last year. Current Yankees on the injured list include Dellin Betances, Jordan Montgomery, Ben Heller, Luis Severino, Miguel Andújar, Greg Bird, Didi Gregorius, Jacoby Ellsbury, Troy Tulowitzki, Gary Sánchez, Hicks and Stanton.

“Like we keep saying, next guy up,” Frazier said. "Everyone has been in this situation where they probably weren’t starters when they went into it. Some of them are now. One of those things now where, which guy’s going to be the hero tonight? Who’s going to be the one that steps up?”

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.