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Aaron Judge out of lineup again, but Yankees say he's fine and is expected to play on Opening Day 

Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge during spring training at

Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge during spring training at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

TAMPA, Fla. — Aaron Judge crisis averted.

This time.

Social media lit up with speculation Monday afternoon when Judge was not in the Yankees' lineup for a third straight day.

It took the Yankees most of the afternoon to douse that wildfire, with Aaron Boone eventually saying on the YES broadcast of the 5-2 loss to the Tigers that Judge was "under the weather" and therefore had to go through MLB’s COVID-19 protocols.

After the game, Boone said he expects Judge, who was to accompany the team home to New York on Monday night, to be in the lineup for Thursday’s season opener at the Stadium against Toronto.

"He should be good to go," Boone said.

General manager Brian Cashman said of Judge: "He’s fine."

Given Judge’s recent past with injuries — he played in only 112 games in 2018, 102 in 2019 and 28 in the 60-game 2020 season — Cashman understood the questions.

"Obviously, when someone like his name is expected to be in a lineup and then it's not, it's going to raise the appropriate questions and concerns," Cashman said. "And so that's what we're dealing with."

Surprise surprise surprise

Domingo German said he had not expected to make the Yankees' rotation out of camp, though by the end, he was the only one who felt that way.

Coming off an 81-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy, the righthander looked big league-ready almost from his firstGrapefruit League appearance. He not only made the rotation but will slide into the No. 3 slot behind Gerrit Cole and Corey Kluber, Aaron Boone announced Sunday.

"I didn't think I had a spot and when they told me the news, I was just very happy," German said through his interpreter. "Extremely excited. I think I had a good spring. I like the results that I got here. Very happy overall with the decision and everything that has come down in camp."

He said later of the No. 3 designation: "I honestly wasn't expecting to pitch the third game."

Entering Monday, German had not allowed a run in three starts, striking out 13 and walking one in nine innings. He allowed two runs and two hits in four innings against the Tigers, including a two-run blast by Akil Baddoo, who crushed a 1-and-2 fastball to rightfield for his fifth homer of spring training.

Garcia wins Dawson

Before Monday’s game, the Yankees announced that Deivi Garcia, optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre late last week after coming up just short in the fifth starter competition won by German, had won the 2021 James P. Dawson Award, given annually to the most outstanding Yankees rookie in spring training. Garcia, 21, among the top pitching prospects in the game, struggled in his last two starts but still posted a respectable 3.86 ERA in five outings, striking out 14 and walking eight in 14 innings.

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