TORONTO – All indications are Aaron Judge will avoid surgery in the offseason.
Though surgery was never considered a strong possibility after the outfielder returned from the ligament tear in his right big toe that cost him 42 games earlier in the season, a procedure over the winter wasn’t concretely ruled out.
Aaron Boone all but did that on Tuesday.
“My understanding is no,” Boone said before Tuesday night’s game against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. “I’ve kind of felt that way for a while. The belief is that it’s gone about as well as it [could] since he’s come back.”
Judge suffered the injury June 3 at Dodger Stadium when he crashed through the bullpen fence in rightfield making a catch on a drive by J.D. Martinez.
Judge started slow after returning to the lineup July 28 but still leads the Yankees — and is fourth in the American League — with 35 homers. Judge is hitting .266 but has a 1.007 OPS and is the reigning AL Player of the Week after going 9-for-17 (.529) with three homers, three doubles, four walks and eight RBIs in five games from Sept. 18-24. The reigning AL MVP, who leads the league with 48 walks since coming off the IL, has reached base in 39-of-84 plate appearances in his previous 19 games, with a .464 on-base percentage in that span.
As the Yankees spiraled toward playoff elimination in the season’s second half, which officially occurred Sunday, there was speculation about resting Judge the rest of the year. But Judge — who wanted, and still wants, no part of that — has gradually been moving better as the weeks have passed.
“The hope was that he would improve as it’s gone along, and I think that’s been the case,” Boone said. “That’s what I’ve seen. The way he’s been able to move around the bases and things like that, I think it’s been a steady improvement the whole time, and I think that’s what’s been encouraging.”
King, Wells lead the way
Michael King continued to impress in his audition to be a part of the 2024 rotation with six scoreless innings and rookie Austin Wells snapped a 0-0 tie in the ninth with a two-run homer, leading the Yankees to a 2-0 victory over the Blue Jays, who need every win they can get as they try for an AL wild-card spot. The lefthanded-swinging Wells, the club’s top catching prospect who was brought up to the majors Sept. 1, took a first-pitch, 96-mph fastball from Jordan Romano opposite-field to left, to put the Yankees (80-77) on the board. It was Wells’ third homer in five games. Gleyber Torres led off the inning with a single.
“Coming in here and getting to have a hit like that in the late innings is what you play the game for,” Wells said.
King, with a 1.27 ERA in six previous starts since the Yankees began stretching him out, struggled with his command — walking five — but allowed just one hit in his outing and struck out five.
“It was polar opposite from last outing,” King said of his previous start, also against the Blue Jays, when he struck out 13 and did not walk a batter over seven innings in which he allowed a run. “I didn’t have command of any of my pitches today. Great defense behind me and was able to execute when I put myself in holes.”