ANAHEIM, Calif. — On Sunday, Aaron Judge declined to put a timetable on his return, and on Monday, Brian Cashman did the same.
The Yankees’ general manager did not paint an overly rosy picture when talking about the left oblique injury that Judge suffered Saturday.
“We’re not going to be able to put a timeframe on it [yet]. He does have a significant injury, so he’s going to be down for a while, and a while would be past that two-week timeframe,” Cashman said during an afternoon appearance on WFAN with Mike Francesa. “In terms of trying to frame it in terms of what it’s going to be, I think we’ll get a better feel for this thing as we move forward. But two weeks is probably premature of getting that feel for it.”
Cashman again used that “S” word, the one that Aaron Boone used Sunday in describing the Judge injury and one that likely sent chills down the backs of Yankees fans.
“He has a significant strain there, and because of that, it’s going to be a while,” Cashman said. “At the end of the day, we’re just going to have to repackage and plug and play with what we’ve got.”
The Yankees currently have a major league-high 13 players on the injured list (a 14th Yankee, CC Sabathia, has returned from the IL and has pitched well in both of his starts). Along with Judge, they include Gary Sanchez (strained left calf), Giancarlo Stanton (strained left biceps), Didi Gregorius (recovery from Tommy John surgery), Aaron Hicks (lower back strain), Miguel Andújar (torn labrum in right shoulder), Greg Bird (torn plantar fascia in left foot), Troy Tulowitzki (left calf strain), Luis Severino (right rotator cuff inflammation and lat strain) and Dellin Betances (right shoulder impingement). The other three are Jordan Montgomery and Ben Heller, both of whom are recovering from Tommy John surgery, and Jacoby Ellsbury, who has had multiple injuries.
Cashman reiterated what Boone said Sunday: Of those listed, Sanchez is the closest to coming off the IL. He went 0-for-3 in a rehab game with Class A Charleston on Monday night.
“If all goes well, we can pop him on a plane possibly as early as [Tuesday] and he can be active as early as Wednesday,” Cashman said.
After that, it becomes a little more vague, with Stanton and Tulowitzki the likeliest to follow Sanchez. Exactly when, however, is not clear.
“I’d say Stanton probably is most realistic as the next guy. Tulo could be in that mix too,” Cashman said. “I’d say Stanton, Tulo and Hicks, probably in that order.”
Of Stanton specifically being able to rejoin the club at some point during this three-city western trip, Cashman said the best hope is that by the end of the trip, he will be ready to be shipped out to one of the minor-league clubs for a rehab assignment.
“He’s swinging the bat. He’s having great batting-practice sessions,” he said. “I think we’ll start seeing him out on the field for full BP probably sooner [rather] than later and he is responding well.”
As for Andujar, Cashman drew a general comparison between the third baseman and Masahiro Tanaka, who suffered a slight tear in his UCL in 2014 but did not have surgery.
“It’s not too different, although it’s a different injury, than when we dealt with the Tanaka diagnosis,” Cashman said. “We had a diagnosis. It’s not a definitive situation to where you have to act on it. We have to wait and see how rest and rehab and the response to that rest and rehab process works. There’s a chance he can avoid it [surgery]. It hasn’t declared itself as something that needs the surgery yet, but we can’t rule that out either.”
While saying of the injury onslaught so early in the season, “I’ve never experienced anything to this level,” Cashman said the Yankees have no choice but to deal with it. They entered Monday night's game against the Angels with an 11-10 record and five victories in their last six games.
“Our job is to find a way regardless of what the circumstances are,” he said. “Our effort is to find a way to excel regardless.”