Judge returns to lineup: 'I felt like I never left'

September 19th, 2018

NEW YORK -- Although is still dealing with pain in his right wrist, he made it clear in his first swing since coming back from the disabled list that the injury will not affect the quality of his at-bats.

The Yankees' right fielder dug into the batter's box for the first time in Tuesday's 3-2 victory over the Red Sox and laced a 112.1-mph line drive directly at right fielder J.D. Martinez for an out, but demonstrating that his fractured wrist has healed enough to be back in the lineup.

"I felt like I never left," Judge said. "Everything felt good. I felt like my at-bats were good. Seeing the ball well. That's all you can really ask for after missing that many weeks. So I'm excited with the start, we got the win and just got to keep that rolling."

Because the forecast of inclement weather pushed back Tuesday's original start of 1:05 p.m. ET to 7:05 p.m., it allowed Judge to squeeze in more simulated at-bats on the field after having a simulated game on team's off-day on Monday that enabled Judge to be cleared to be put in the lineup.

"I don't make the decisions, I just get paid to play," Judge said. "But I just voiced my opinion a lot and I think they got tired of me telling them I'll be playing, so they finally said, 'Let's put him in there and see what happens.'"

Judge's day started by hitting a homer and putting three other balls in play and swinging and missing at several pitches in his simulated at-bats. In the real contest, Judge followed his lineout in the first by hitting into a double play on a hard ground ball to short and came feet away from hitting a home run down the right-field line in the sixth.

"Adrenaline. That's the biggest thing," Judge said of why his at-bat quality was better against Boston than in the simulated game. "Getting in front of our fan base. But I felt like I was taking good at-bats all day. That's why I told the training staff, I told [general manager Brian Cashman], that I wanted to be in the lineup tonight."

Judge had been on the DL since getting hit by a pitch from the Royals' Jakob Junis on July 26. Though the pain is now tolerable enough to get some playing time, Judge said that he does not think it will be completely pain-free until the offseason.

"We still got some pain," Judge said. "But it's something that I can deal with and it's not affecting my swing or anything like that, so that's why we kind of moved forward and started doing at-bats and finally getting me in a game."

Originally expected to be back in game situations just three weeks after suffering the fracture, Judge ended up being sidelined for just over seven weeks, being forced to watch his team compete for a top American League Wild Card spot from the bench.

"Just not grinding with my team, that's the biggest thing and that's what I love to do," Judge said of the frustration he experienced while being out. "You know, through the good times, through the bad times, I want to be in the trenches with my guys. So missing out on that, the ups and downs, that's what I missed the most. To finally be back there, especially when we got down early to Boston, this team continues to fight. That's why I love being back in there with them and getting the win."