HOUSTON — First things first.
Aaron Judge is healthy.
“He’s fine,” Joe Girardi said. “I just think he needs a physical day [off]. That was my choice.”
And so, when Saturday night’s lineup came out, Judge was neither at designated hitter nor in rightfield, replaced there by rookie Clint Frazier, called up earlier in the day.
“You never want to give him a day off,” Girardi said of Judge, who came into Saturday leading the AL in seven offensive categories, including homers (27), OPS (1.138) and on-base percentage (.449). “If we had 165 games, I’d play him 165 games, if I could. But you know in the long run this is probably going to be helpful, and it may reduce the risk of injury.”
Judge had played in 76 of the Yankees’ first 78 games, starting 70 in right and five at DH. He pinch hit for Chris Carter in the ninth inning Saturday night and fouled out.
“I don’t remember the last time I’ve given him a day off,” Girardi said. “That’s kind of what told me . . . he’s  pounds, running all over the place, diving on the ground. It’s a physical grind. I just felt like I don’t give him many days and today was the right day to do it.”
Judge said serving as the DH doesn’t necessarily provide much of a breather. “DH days, you’re still locked in mentally,” Judge said. “They don’t really give you a break.”
He said he hasn’t felt tired. “It’s been the same since Opening Day, I feel like,” he said of his energy level. “Nothing’s really changed.”
Judge joked about facing a position player in the ninth inning of Friday night’s blowout victory. He flied out to center on Nori Aoki’s 78-mph, um, fastball.
“That was the first time facing a position player, that was different,” said Judge, who said Astros catcher Brian McCann, a former Yankees teammate, was laughing at him. “It was all fun. Trying to hit one to the moon, and just missed it.”
Notes & quotes: Girardi said CC Sabathia (left hamstring strain) is all but certain to return to the rotation Tuesday against the Blue Jays. Luis Cessa went 0-3 with a 5.82 ERA in three starts in place of Sabathia . . . Adam Warren (shoulder inflammation) will pitch a one-inning simulated game Sunday and could be activated shortly after that, perhaps as soon as Tuesday.