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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge making steady progress from oblique injury

Aaron Judge #99 of the Yankees works out

Aaron Judge #99 of the Yankees works out in the field prior to a game against the San Diego Padres at Yankee Stadium on May 28, 2019. Credit: Getty Images/Jim McIsaac

Aaron Judge easily but strongly – and accurately – threw baseballs from rightfield several hours before Thursday night’s Red Sox-Yankees game was postponed because of rain.

If one watched Judge throw to the bases – including some one-hop strikes to home plate – and was unaware he has been out since April 21 with a left oblique strain, that person likely would not have concluded he was injured.

“I felt I haven’t missed a day. It feels like April [20],’’ Judge said after his on-field workout, which included some agility drills as well as the throwing. "There is no pain and no problem. I am letting it go. The last couple of days, getting back to normal routine and getting the rhythm down again.”

This does not mean Judge suddenly is close to a return, an occurrence that very much remains up in the air. There are significant hurdles that haven’t  been tried yet, let alone cleared.

But steady progress, non-existent in the early stages of his rehab, finally is starting to come.

During the Yankees’ recent seven-day trip to Baltimore and Kansas City, Judge frequently was seen on the field doing agility work. He just as frequently carried a bat outside, though there wasn’t much more than light swings while standing in the outfield and, on multiple occasions, tracking pitches in the bullpen.  

But Judge began hitting off a tee on Monday, and he said he’ll likely start hitting in the indoor cage this weekend and continue that work “into next week.”  

"Now he just continues to build up the slow, steady progress from a hitting standpoint, which is obviously the biggest thing with that injury," Aaron Boone said earlier in the week. "It's been slow and steady, but it has been steady, and that's been the good thing. He has responded really well to everything.”

And everything has been done with the team, both at home and on the road.

“Really important,” Boone said Thursday. “Aaron’s obviously a special player, but just a special person and a special presence in our room. As upset as he was when he first got injured, one of the first conversations I had with him was, ‘You can still impact us in a big way.’ And I absolutely feel like he has. He’s a part of our hitters’ meetings [that precede every series], he’s a part of kind of integrating new players that we’ve brought in to the clubhouse. He’s a part of our postgame when we talk and we talk about a victory or whatever. He’s been a huge part of this and a huge presence in all of it.”  

Extra bases

Thursday’s postponement will be made up as part of a separate-admission doubleheader Saturday, Aug. 3, with the first game starting at 1:05 p.m. and the second at 7:05…The rainout means the Yankees won’t need to use an “opener” in this series (Chad Green was going to open Friday's or Saturday’s game). J.A. Happ is slated to start Friday night, followed by Domingo German on Saturday and CC Sabathia on Sunday . . . Dellin Betances (right shoulder impingement) threw his second bullpen session of the week Thursday. After throwing another bullpen session, likely on Saturday, he is in line to start facing live hitters at some point next week. “It went well,” Boone said. “Assuming that [Saturday] goes well, he’ll probably go to face hitters or do a sim game or something like that.” There still is no timetable for Betances’ return . . . Boone said Didi Gregorius, rehabbing with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, could rejoin the Yankees at some point during their upcoming trip that starts Tuesday in Toronto and continues Friday in Cleveland . . . Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner was in town for the start of the series. 

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