Aaron Boone’s lineup for the Yankees’ game against the Royals on Sunday looked right out of a road split-squad game in the Grapefruit League. It worked out, but it was the manager’s first lineup without Aaron Judge in it after the face of the franchise joined the swollen ranks of the injured.
Judge hurt his left oblique while lining a single to rightfield in the sixth inning of Saturday’s 9-2 win. Before Sunday’s 10-inning, 7-6 win, Boone said Judge has “a pretty significant strain in there.”
The big question is: How long will he be sidelined? The big answer wasn’t forthcoming. Boone said more should be known in a couple of weeks.
Last year’s original timetable of three weeks for Judge’s fractured wrist turned out to be seven weeks, and Judge said he doesn’t know how long it will be this time.
“No, but there’s no need to put a clock on it because it’ll happen just like it did with the wrist last year,” he said. “So no need to go down that road again . . . I’m just going to go based on how I feel.”
The Yankees placed Judge on the 10-day injured list, giving them a staggering 13 players on the 10- and 60-day lists. They promoted infielder Thairo Estrada from Triple-A.
“It’s tough,” Judge said. “That was one of my goals. I didn’t want to get back on the DL or anything, especially tough times like this. A lot of guys are beat up. I wanted to be out there in the trenches with the guys every single day.”
In 2016, Judge suffered a Grade 2 right oblique strain on Sept. 13. He went on the then-DL the next day and remained there until the season ended almost three weeks later. So it’s hard to get a timetable from that.
Judge did say, “I don’t think it’s as bad as the one I did in ’16.”
He launched a rookie-record 52 homers in 2017 and 27 more last season. He started all 20 games this season before suffering the strain and has a .288/.404/.521 slash line, five homers and 11 RBIs.
“This is one of the greatest players in the sport,” Boone said. “All-around player, what he brings defensively, the way he runs the bases, obviously what he is offensively. So you miss that. That’s huge.”
Clint Frazier started in right for Judge and batted cleanup Sunday. The bottom five in the order were Mike Tauchman, Gio Urshela, Mike Ford, Austin Romine and Tyler Wade.
But Frazier belted a long three-run homer and is batting .339. He has six homers (in only 62 at-bats and 17 games), tying him for the team lead, and a team-high 17 RBIs.
Romine, filling in behind the plate for injured Gary Sanchez, delivered three RBI singles, including his first career walk-off hit.
“There’s a couple of [injured] guys that are irreplaceable here, but we’ve got to find a way to do it,” Romine said. “We’re still winning games.”
The Yankees have won five of six to move to 11-10, their first time above .500 since they were 5-4 on April 7. Judge expressed faith in the replacement hitters.
“Oh, they’re going to be just fine, just like you guys saw today,” he said. “Guys just step up. That’s how it is.”