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Aaron Judge strikes out as pinch hitter in Game 1, will start Game 2

Aaron Judge looks on from the Yankees dugout

Aaron Judge looks on from the Yankees dugout during a game against Cleveland at Yankee Stadium on August 28, 2017. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Jim McIsaac

Aaron Judge walked into the Yankees’ clubhouse Wednesday morning thinking about taking his place again in the starting lineup for both ends of the doubleheader against Cleveland at the Stadium.

“I should be in both,” Judge said. “I hope I’m in both.”

The assembled media at his locker indicated otherwise.

“Not in the first one?” Judge asked.

Not in the first one. He’s in the second one.

Joe Girardi gave the rookie rightfielder’s struggling bat and body a night off Monday, intending to provide a physical and mental break. That was the plan for Tuesday night, too, before the game got rained out. Judge’s production has been hurting in the second half. So has his left shoulder. In fact, Judge said, “I’ve got ice [usually] on my shoulder, my knees. I wish I could ice my whole body . . . My whole body is just kind of beat up.”

But after two days of rest — he didn’t even take batting practice — Judge reported improvement. He said the shoulder “feels a lot better. Getting a couple of days off, my body feels great.”

And his mind?

“Mental break, every day you come to the park, you get locked in; you get ready to go,” Judge said. “So it’s not much of a mental break. The big thing for me is just the physical break.”

Judge ended up pinch hitting with two outs, nobody on and the Yankees down by one in the ninth inning of Game 1. He went down swinging, and the Yankees lost, 2-1.

He wasn’t able to pinpoint the root of the shoulder injury, saying he has had “quite a few falls.” There have been discussions about a cortisone shot. But Judge said it hasn’t happened, nor an MRI.

Asked if the shoulder has impacted his results at the plate, Judge said, “I couldn’t tell you. I think it’s just part of the grind of the season, just kind of the body wearing down. I’ve just got to make adjustments and fight through them.”

He had set the bar rather high before the All-Star break, slashing .329/.448/.691 with 30 homers and 66 RBIs. Then he lit up Miami with a power show that brought him the Home Run Derby trophy.

But Judge left his mojo in Miami. He showed up for this twinbill with a slash line of .179/.341/.352 since the All-Star break. He had seven homers and 16 RBIs, and he had fanned 65 times in 145 at-bats.

“I believe his struggles are mechanical,” Girardi said. “But it has nothing to do, in our mind, with his lead shoulder.”

Girardi felt it would’ve set back Judge’s physical progress from the time off by starting him in Game 1.

“We’re trying to catch him up physically,” Girardi said.

Judge just couldn’t wait to feel like a player again.

“I’ve been going stir crazy,” Judge said. “My routine has been messed up, so it’s been kind of weird.”

New York Sports