HOUSTON — Looking big-picture, Aaron Boone sat rightfielder Aaron Judge on Monday night against the Astros after starting him in each of the Yankees’ first 27 games of the year.
“He’s OK,” Boone said, stressing that Judge isn’t injured. “Just basically [we’re] in a grueling 18-in-a-row stretch, we got here in the middle of the night. Just trying to pick a day here and there with some of our guys that have basically played every day.”
Boone, whose team arrived at its hotel here at about 4 a.m. Monday after playing Sunday night in Anaheim, also referenced the surgical procedure Judge had on his left shoulder that had him somewhat limited early in spring training.
“You have to keep in mind he’s coming off offseason shoulder surgery, hasn’t had a day off yet,” Boone said. “Everything’s good in that regard [the shoulder], but we also want to keep it that way. It’s been on my plate for the last few days to try and pick a day, and I just felt like today made the most sense.”
Judge pinch hit for Austin Romine in the eighth inning and walked in the Yankees’ 2-1 loss to Houston on Monday night.
Judge entered the game with a .317/.449/.584 slash line, seven homers and 18 RBIs but was in his first mini-slump of the season, a 3-for-17 slide with no homers and 12 strikeouts, including 10 strikeouts in 15 at-bats during the just-completed three-game sweep of the Angels.
Boone, who said Judge’s weekend had nothing to do with the decision to rest him, stated the obvious: It’s never an easy call sitting the slugger.
“Trust me, not writing Aaron’s name in the lineup is not an easy thing to do, always,” he said. “But it’s something I felt like we needed to do for these last few days and [kept] putting it off, putting it off. At the end of the day, it’s such a tough stretch of games, I felt this was the best thing playing the long game a little bit to keep us as fresh as possible.”
No Drury yet; Austin set
Boone said Brandon Drury (migraines, blurry vision), rehabbing with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre since last week, isn’t quite ready to rejoin the team in Houston. “We feel like he’s doing well and doing better,” he said. “We’ll continue to evaluate over the next few days.”
Tyler Austin finished serving his four-game suspension Monday night and will be activated Tuesday. Boone said “there’s a chance” he’ll be in Tuesday night’s lineup.
Infield prospect Thairo Estrada, 22, who missed spring training after being shot in the right thigh in late January in his native Venezuela, is being promoted to Scranton. Estrada, who played the entire 2017 season with Double-A Trenton, started this season with high Class A Tampa.
The week that was
After posting a .357/.419/.821 slash line with four homers, a double, 10 RBIs, three walks and seven runs in the previous week, Didi Gregorius was named AL player of the week for the first time in his career. He struck out three times Monday night.