TORONTO — Yes, Aaron Boone considered resting Aaron Judge Wednesday night.
Judge’s response was unequivocal.
“He said, 'I want to play,'” Boone said with a smile before Wednesday’s game in which Judge led off as the night’s designated hitter.
And that was that.
Boone said perhaps if Judge was at 50 homers and not at the 60 he came into Wednesday with — one short of Roger Maris’ American League record 61 — that might have altered his decision-making somewhat.
But with Judge at 60, Boone said if the decision was solely in his hands, his inclination was he would have likely played the outfielder anyway.
“I probably would have had him DH today,” Boone said. “Look, we all want him to get there [61 and beyond]. We don’t want to put any undue noise around it, there’s plenty of that from the outside, and all the eyeballs on it now. So the biggest thing I’m monitoring is just how he’s doing physically. And that’s the one thing that he’s been in a really good spot here much of the year, but especially the second half of the year. So I think today, where he’s at, if it was completely my decision, I would have him in there as a DH tonight.”
Wednesday made it 49 straight games for Judge with his last day off coming Aug. 3 against Seattle at the Stadium.
Rest for the rest
Other than Judge leading off, Josh Donaldson batting third and starting at third and Harrison Bader starting in center and batting fifth, it was an otherwise hodgepodge lineup Wednesday, not a surprise in that the Yankees, with Tuesday’s victory, clinched the AL East and the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. None of the remaining eight games, counting Wednesday night’s, “matter” in the traditional sense of the word and Boone said he would use the remaining schedule to selectively rest his regulars to have them as healthy as possible for the playoffs.
“[We’ll] be a little more specific with how we use relievers, maybe an off day here and there for different guys,” Boone said. “Obviously I have a few regulars out of the lineup today. So I would say it’s fair to say it’ll be a little bit different [how I manage].”
Anthony Rizzo, among the regulars getting the night off, was to serve as the de facto manager Wednesday night, Boone said.
“He helped out with the lineup today putting it together,” Boone said. “He’s going to help with the decision-making process today.”
DJ set for Friday
Boone said on Tuesday that DJ LeMahieu, on the IL since Sept. 8 with right big toe inflammation, might play Wednesday but ultimately decided to have the infielder go through one more full pregame workout instead. “\[With\] the idea that Friday he’s going to give it a go,” Boone said.
After an off day Thursday, the Yankees open a three-game series against the Orioles Friday night at the Stadium. That game will be on the YES Network in addition to Amazon Prime Video.