One day at designated hitter for Aaron Judge is routine.
Two days in a row at designated hitter for Aaron Judge is not routine.
Both Judge and manager Aaron Boone conceded on Wednesday night that Judge is "banged up," but neither would provide specifics.
"It’s September," Judge said after taking batting practice on the field before the Yankees hosted the Rangers. "Everybody’s banged up."
But everybody is not Judge, who the Yankees want in the lineup for every one of their final nine games after Thursday’s day off. And the postseason, of course, if they make it.
"Like I said (Tuesday), he's just a little banged up," Boone said. "I just felt like with the off day tomorrow, I just felt like it would be good to have another DH day, especially rolling into that off day. It's just the product of, I think, the stretch of games we're in and him being a little banged up and trying to preserve him as best we can, while obviously needing him in the lineup."
Wednesday night’s game was the Yankees’ 20th in a row without a day off. Judge has started all of them, though he did leave a Sept. 12 game against the Mets in the third inning because of unexplained dizziness that has not returned.
Judge has missed time in the past with shoulder troubles, and he was out earlier this season with an unspecified leg injury. He also battled COVID-19 after the All-Star break.
Even with all that, 2021 has been one of Judge’s healthiest in years. Wednesday was the Yankees’ 153rd game of the season and Judge had played in 138 of them, including 21 starts in centerfield.
It’s the most games Judge has played since he appeared in 155 in 2017, when he won AL Rookie of the Year.
Going into Wednesday, Judge was batting .288 with 36 home runs and a .912 OPS after going 2-for-4 with a double and three-run homer in the Tuesday’s 7-1 victory over Texas.
Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Gallo all homered on Tuesday. Judge’s was his typical blast to right-center. Stanton’s was an atypical (for anyone else) laser to left. Gallo’s was a moonshot to the second deck in right.
"I don’t compare to those two in that factor," Judge said. "I just try to go out there and do my job, especially hitting in the middle of order. I feel like my job’s to go out there and drive guys in. If it's a single or a homer, it really doesn't matter. Big G, man, he hits it about the hardest I've ever seen in the game. I’ll just take my little my little lob shots over the rightfield wall. I'll take those."
The Yankees open a three-game series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Friday before heading to Toronto for three and then finishing the regular season with three at home against Tampa Bay the following weekend.
It’s all right in front of them. They are doing their best to make sure Judge is playing and not watching.
"In the years past, we've kind of already at this point kind of know where we're going to be," Judge said. "You kind of know, OK, we're going to be in the wild card game, we're going to be at home during the wild card game, we're going to be playing the Division Series at home. We kind of already had a claim. This year, it's a little different. We don't know what's going to happen. It's all kind of in our hands. That's where you want to be as a competitor and as a professional. You want to be holding the cards. You want to be out there controlling it. Go out there and have some fun and win some ballgames."