All in all, Aaron Judge said, “it could have been a lot worse.”
And when a baseball traveling in excess of 90 miles per hour connects with bone, it often is.
Judge suffered a chip fracture in his right wrist on Thursday night when he was hit by a 93-mph fastball thrown by Royals righthander Jakob Junis in the first inning.
Aaron Boone said returning in three weeks is a “realistic” timetable for Judge, about as good as the news could be for the rightfielder, who said Friday he “didn’t have a good feeling” about what the prognosis might be when he got hit.
“A little soreness today waking up but overall feel good,” Judge said after Friday night’s Yankees-Royals game was postponed (it will be made up as part of a split doubleheader Saturday). “It could have been a lot worse. Happy with what they diagnosed. Just time to go to work and get better.”
Judge, aided mostly by “adrenaline,” he said, stayed in Thursday’s game after being hit and even reached on an infield single in the third inning before being removed for a pinch hitter in the fourth. He said he should be able to pick up a bat in about a week and go from there.
Needless to say, the injury comes at an inopportune time for him and the Yankees, who are five games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox.
“It’s tough, but stuff like this happens,” Judge said. “You can’t control it. I’m glad it happened now instead of the last week of September or the last couple weeks of September, so you have to make a positive out of it.”
Judge, who wore a soft cast on his wrist and got treatment on Friday, has a .285/.398/.548 slash line with a team-best 26 homers and 61 RBIs, tied with Giancarlo Stanton for the team lead. He played in 99 of the Yankees’ first 101 games.
“I want to be out there with my guys every day. That’s always my goal,” Judge said. “I want to play 162-plus with my team. That’s what I always felt like defined great players is guys that are out there battling and grinding every day with their team. So it’s tough, but nothing I can do about it now. Just have to move on, get healthy and get ready for that run.”
While the industry expectation is that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman will explore options on the market for some extra outfield help while Judge is out, Boone said that’s not a concern of his.
“You never know what materializes, but absolutely we feel like we have the club, even without Aaron, capable of going out there and winning games, and that’ll be our expectation,” Boone said. “Whether we get reinforcements or whatever, who knows? But I don’t think in that room we really concern ourselves with that because we feel like we absolutely have the men capable of getting things done.”
Boone altered his lineup to account for Judge being out, the most noticeable change being Stanton hitting second, where Judge has hit most of the season. Stanton was followed by the lefthanded-hitting Didi Gregorius, the switch-hitting Aaron Hicks and the righthanded-hitting Gleyber Torres in the five-hole. Torres, a Rookie of the Year candidate who is slugging .542 with 15 homers, came off the disabled list on Wednesday.
“I don’t like not writing Judgie’s name in there, but I also feel like it’s a very capable lineup the way it’s constructed right now,” Boone said. “And the expectation is we’ll go out there and produce.”