Yankees’ Aaron Judge has ‘breakthrough’ in recovery from toe injury

yankees, aaron judge
May 31, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; New York Yankees designated hitter Aaron Judge (99) waits for a pitch during an at-bat against the New York Yankees at T-Mobile Park. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are eagerly awaiting the return of their star player, Aaron Judge, following a strained ligament injury in his right big toe. The team’s offensive dynamics have suffered in Judge’s absence, causing a visible decline in their performance.

The Impact of Judge’s Absence

Judge, before his injury, boasted a commendable .291 average with a .404 OBP, team-high 19 homers, 40 RBIs, and a 189 wRC+. The 31-year-old slugger was on track for another MVP award before being sidelined by his second injury stint of the season.

Sadly, the Yankees seem to struggle without their key player. The significance of Judge’s contribution is further underscored by his nine-year, $360 million extension signed this past off-season.

Cashman’s Strategy and its Ramifications

General manager Brian Cashman, instead of reinforcing the team’s offense, elected to invest in starting pitching. This led to the signing of Carlos Rodon to a six-year, $162 million deal. However, Rodon is yet to pitch an inning for the Yankees this season. Meanwhile, the team’s offensive troubles seem to be the primary reason for their ongoing predicament.

Optimistic Updates on Judge’s Recovery

Fortunately, there’s a silver lining on the horizon. Manager Aaron Boone recently reported encouraging news about Judge’s injury progress.

“I’m encouraged by what I’m seeing and in conversations with him,” Boone said. “And I feel he feels there’s been a little bit of a breakthrough… Hopefully this is the start of him making real progress.”

Judge has received two injections into his toe in recent weeks, significantly reducing inflammation and accelerating his recovery process.

While the nature of the injury makes it challenging to predict a definitive return date, the news has been increasingly positive. The Yankees are undoubtedly eager for Judge’s return to the lineup.

Billy McKinney’s Role in Supplementing Judge’s Absence

In response to Judge’s absence, the Yankees have promoted outfielder Billy McKinney, who has shown promising performance in the past two weeks.

The 28-year-old former first-round pick has posted a .289 average with a .308 OBP, alongside two homers, four RBIs, and a 141 wRC+. Despite not being a direct replacement for Judge, McKinney has done an admirable job filling in, especially considering the team’s desperate need for offensive production.

McKinney’s contribution was clearly visible when he hit a two-run homer against the Mariners on Tuesday, ultimately making the difference in the game and providing the Yankees their first win in five games.

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