BALTIMORE —– The one day off Aaron Boone said he wanted to give Aaron Judge to address the vaguely worded "some lower body stuff" turned into two straight days off Thursday afternoon.
When the Yankees released Thursday’s lineup against the Orioles, Judge, whom Boone said Wednesday he "hoped" would be back in was not as Clint Frazier got the start in right and Brett Gardner was in left.
"He's doing well this morning," Boone said after Thursday’s lineup was posted. "The decision I made late last night after the game, just talking to him, [felt] like, let's give this thing one more [day]. Obviously, playing the long game. We want our best players to be able to post as much as possible. We're in the midst of our first long 13 games in a row [stretch]. Trying to be as proactive in making sure our guys are good to post over the long haul, as opposed to reacting to something getting out of hand."
Boone, in saying "Judge always wants to play" and that he would be "available" to pinch hit Thursday if the situation was significant enough.
And that situation did arise in the eighth inning, the score tied at 2. After Gio Urshela worked a leadoff walk against lefty Paul Fry, Judge pinch hit for the lefty-swinging Rougned Odor, whose two-run single in the fifth gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Judge, 0-for-9 with six strikeouts in his career as a pinch hitter at that point, struck out.
Boone said after Thursday’s game he "expects" Judge to play all three games this weekend against the Tigers, that series starting Friday night at the Stadium.
Still, as long as Judge is given these periodic breaks, the questions about his ability to consistently stay on the field aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
After his runaway AL Rookie of the Year 2017 season when he played 155 games, Judge was limited to 112 games in 2018, 102 games in 2019 and 28 games in the COVID-19 shortened 60-game season last year.
Entering Wednesday, Judge had played in 21 of the Yankees’ first 24 games, hitting .263 but with five homers and an .885 OPS.
"I'd say we're at the end of April here," Boone said before Thursday’s game of his message to worried/angry fans. "I know around Aaron, and Giancarlo [Stanton], there's always a lot of talk and understandably so. They're great players for us and great players in our sport, and have had their share of time missed the last couple of years. Both of those guys have played a lot here already in the month of April. Want to continue that and look forward to him (Judge) being back in the lineup Friday night."
Additional bullpen option
Lefty Wandy Peralta, whom the Yankees traded Mike Tauchman to the Giants for on Tuesday, cleared intake protocols and was available in the bullpen Thursday (wearing No. 58). Peralta, 29, had a 5.40 ERA in 10 games this season but posted a 3.29 ERA in 25 games last year, striking out 25 and walking 11 in 27 1/3 innings. Righty Mike King, who has not allowed a run in 11 innings, comprising three outings, was optioned to the alternate site.