Aaron Judge’s season likely is over because of an oblique strain he suffered on Tuesday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Wednesday.
Even before an MRI revealed the Grade II right oblique strain, Cashman speculated that Judge will miss the final 2 1⁄2 weeks of the regular season.
“These things usually take a while,” Cashman said. “The regular season, I don’t see how that’s possible.”
Cashman said Judge possibly could return if the Yankees make a deep postseason run. Otherwise, the 6-7 slugger will report to spring training next February with a chance to win a roster spot, but no guarantees after an uneven first look at the majors.
To replace Judge’s righthanded bat, the Yankees on Wednesday night signed Billy Butler, a source said. The 30-year-old DH/first baseman batted .276 with four home runs and 31 RBIs in 221 at-bats for the A’s, who released him on Sunday.
Judge, 24, homered in his first at-bat, but finished with a .179 average, four home runs, 10 RBIs and 42 strikeouts in 84 at-bats.
“Obviously, he struggled with the strikeouts,” Cashman said. “Part of the process is to get him up here and get these growing pains out of the way so we speed up the adjustment process.”
Cashman cited Judge’s history of struggling initially when he is promoted to a higher level. Judge had cut down on the strikeouts somewhat before he was injured on a swing in the fourth inning on Tuesday.
“I’m glad even though he is now down that he got exposed to a lot of things up here that will benefit him as we enter 2017,” Cashman said. “He’s got great aptitude. The strikeout rate declined considerably here recently.”
As for next year, Cashman said: “He’ll have to earn his way on like everybody next year. There’s no absolutes, but I think without question he’ll be better for the experience at the end of 2016 as he competes in 2017 with whatever we have.”
Rob Refsnyder will start in rightfield. The Yankees recalled outfielder Mason Williams from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Aaron Hicks, who is on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain, left for Tampa, Florida, to rehab his injury and could be activated before the end of the season.