PHILADELPHIA — For obvious reasons Aaron Boone never wants to have Aaron Judge on the bench.
But with an off day Thursday the Yankees manager decided Wednesday night would be a good time to get the rightfielder off his feet for one of the few times this season.
“Been kicking it around for the last week or two [when] to get him a day,” Boone said late Wednesday afternoon. “Being in a National League city, I have to sit an outfielder, and with the off day tomorrow it felt like a good day to get him down and keep everyone fresh.”
Judge came into Wednesday having played in 76 of the Yankees’ first 77 games and by night’s end Boone said he expected that number to be 77 of 78.
“As thin as our bench is and being in a National League city, I expect he’ll pinch hit in this game or go in in a double-switch,” Boone said. “He’s in play.”
The rest day — at least at the start of the game — is part of Boone’s proactive approach in giving certain players a break here and there.
“Overall I think he’s been in a really good place physically,” Boone said. “And one of my goals with all of our guys, especially the guys that we lean on so heavily that are going to play basically every day, is to pick an occasional spot. A lot of times tie it around an off day to where I can get them [two days off], and I feel like that will pay dividends down the stretch and hopefully [into] October.”
Judge entered Wednesday in a 9-for-28 stretch, hitting .277 overall with a team-best 20 homers and 52 RBIs.
Bird off, too
Greg Bird, who snapped a 0-for-15 slide with a two-out RBI single Tuesday night, also started Wednesday on the bench, replaced at first by Neil Walker.
“Just trying to ease him and keep Walker relevant and get him as many at-bats as I can,” Boone said.
Boone is still mindful of the ankle surgery Bird returned from on May 26.
“With him coming back from the foot stuff, being able to tie it around an off day [Thursday] I felt like was beneficial,” Boone said. “Hopefully it something that will benefit him.”
As of pregame Wednesday Boone said a final determination on a starter for Sunday night’s game against the Red Sox had not been made, though Luis Severino going on regular rest remains the safe bet.
“We’ll let you know tonight,” Boone said.