Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Sunday that Aaron Judge might return to the lineup this week, possibly during a three-game series with the Red Sox that starts Tuesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
"The sooner the better,’’ Judge said Sunday after the Yankees' 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays. "I've been feeling good for a while, so like I [had] said, gotta go through the progression, and once we do that, I’ll be back on the field.’’
Judge has not had an at-bat since July 26, when he suffered a chip fracture of the ulnar styloid bone in his right wrist after being hit with a 93-mph fastball thrown by Royals righthander Jakob Junis. He has a .285/.398/.548 slash line with 26 home runs and 61 RBIs in 99 games.
The Yankees, who were 65-36 after winning the game in which Judge was injured, initially said he would miss only three weeks, but he has not started the last 48 games. The Yankees, who have gone 26-22 in that span, have 13 remaining in the regular season.
Judge said he still has some residual pain when he rotates the wrist. "Swinging, no. I'm good, no problem,'' he said.
The Yankees are fighting to maintain home-field advantage for the Oct. 3 wild-card game, and having Judge available against Boston -- the winningest team in baseball -- would be a big help.
``I would say it's a possibility,’’ Boone said of Judge playing in the Red Sox series. "I think that's potentially in the timeline. I wouldn't say we're there to make that call yet, but I'd say around that time, he could be close. I would think by some point in this homestand, assuming everything continues to progress, he’ll be active.’’
Boone said he does not think Judge will need to appear as a pinch hitter before making a full start. "I would say once we deem he’s ready, it’s probably go time,’’ he said.
Boone hopes to get Judge an adequate number of at-bats before the regular season ends. "I think there’s a realistic chance 30, 40 at-bats exist,’’ the manager said.
Asked if that will be enough to find his rhythm, Judge said, “I think so.’’
Judge played two innings in rightfield on Friday night but would have given way to a pinch hitter if his turn at bat had come up.``Of course I thought of that, but no,’’ Boone said,”[Trainer] Steve Donohue would have tackled me. I told Stevie I was going to send him up on deck, just to get him going a little bit, but no, he wouldn't have hit in that situation. We would have pinch hit for him.’’
Boone was asked if he considered letting Judge take the at-bat and just stand in the box to get him used to facing in-game pitching.
“I even thought of that, but it's still the game and we would have hit for him,’’ he said. “We were prepared to do that.’’