DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Yankees are beginning to provide a clearer timetable for Aaron Judge’s first Grapefruit League appearance, as manager Aaron Boone said on Tuesday that the slugging outfielder could be about a week away from game action.
Judge has been proceeding conservatively after experiencing soreness in his right shoulder during workouts at the Yankees’ Minor League complex earlier in the month. Boone said that Judge has increased his throwing to 120 feet and is continuing to perform tee-and-toss hitting drills, with the expectation of hitting on the field later this week.
“He's doing well,” Boone said. “As for when [Judge will play in Grapefruit League games], no playing for sure this week. After the [March 2] off-day, I'll probably have a good lay of the land about when we'll get him in a game. Hopefully shortly thereafter.”
Boone said that based upon the soreness Judge has reported, Judge would be playing through the issue if it were occurring during the regular season.
“It's a little apples and oranges, because it's the start and we're building him up,” Boone said. “I think he'd be playing. Now it's just [that] he hasn't built up, hit repeatedly outside and done that, so there's the build-up part of it.”
Judge had 38 Spring Training at-bats last season, 45 the year before and 63 in 2017, when he went on to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award unanimously. Boone said that Judge ideally would need between 30 to 60 Grapefruit League at-bats this year to be ready for the March 26 season opener against the Orioles in Baltimore.
“I don't envision us having to squeeze it into two, two and a half weeks,” Boone said. “But if you had to, you could probably do that. I don't envision [that] we're up against it coming with him. I feel like he'll have plenty of time based on what we're seeing day in and day out right now.”
The Yankees return home to host the Nationals on Wednesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field, where right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will make his first start of the spring in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest. Right-hander Joe Ross is scheduled to start for the defending World Series champions.