Yankees’ Aaron Judge offers scary reality regarding toe injury

yankees, aaron judge
May 27, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Judge (99) against the San Diego Padres at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees face a challenging time ahead as they await the return of their superstar slugger and reigning MVP, Aaron Judge. Rehabilitating from a torn ligament in his right big toe, Judge’s absence from the field is set to continue for the foreseeable future, with pain relief the primary factor determining his return.

Regrettably, Judge continues to experience discomfort even while walking, meaning his return to play in the near future seems unlikely.

The projected timetable for his recovery could extend to at least 1.5 months. However, Judge hints at a broader issue, suggesting his recovery is more about managing persistent pain, indicating he might be battling his injury for the remainder of the season while he focuses on a comprehensive rehabilitation.

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Surgery Option: A Post-Season Possibility?

Surgery has been mentioned as a possible treatment, but it is unlikely to take place until the end of the season. Judge, speaking with MLB.com, voiced his uncertainty around the surgery decision, stating, “There’s talk of surgery, but I don’t think we’re at that [point]. I’m not a doctor. I have no idea. They throw around eight different things.”

Player Performance: The Void Left by Judge

Judge’s injury leaves a significant gap in the team, with the 31-year-old outfielder being a key contributor to the Yankees’ offensive production. His stats before the injury included a .291 batting average, a .404 OBP, 19 homers, 40 RBIs, a 188 wRC+, and a 2.8 WAR. Without a doubt, Judge’s absence leaves a gaping hole at the top of the batting order.

Managing Recovery: Prioritizing Health Over Quick Return

The focus remains on ensuring Judge reaches at least 75% fitness before considering a return. Given Giancarlo Stanton’s role as the designated hitter, Judge is keen to avoid being a liability in the outfield. “I’m feeling good, not great yet. We’re getting there,” Judge expressed. “I’ve got to be able to run. If I can run, then I can play. Me running at 10% [isn’t] going to help anybody out there.”

Looking Ahead: Timelines and Team Performance

An optimistic return timeline might suggest early August. However, the Yankees need to clinch victories in the coming weeks, a task made slightly easier with a week off due to the impending All-Star break.

It’s clear that the Yankees are not a contending team without Judge. Given that he’s unlikely to be at 100% at any point this year, the team will need others to step up in his absence and upon his eventual return.