Yankees gearing up for return of star slugger

aaron judge, yankees
Apr 28, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Judge (99) sits in the dugout during during the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

It is no secret that the New York Yankees have faced significant struggles without their star player, Aaron Judge. The 31-year-old, coming off a nine-year, $360 million extension, aimed to build on his MVP campaign in 2022. He appeared in 157 games, a career-high, posting a .311 average with a .425 OBP.

This year, Judge has participated in 26 games, hitting .261 with a .352 OBP. He has already hit six home runs with 14 RBIs, but these statistics fall short of his typically lofty standards. With a 135 wRC+, Judge is indisputably the best outfielder on the team—a unit that has encountered considerable difficulties at the outset of the 2023 season.

From Aaron Hicks to Isiah Kiner-Falefa to Oswaldo Cabrera, the Yankees have faced significant challenges. They managed to secure a victory against a formidable Tampa Bay Rays team on Saturday, thanks to Harrison Bader, but Judge’s return should enhance their prospects exponentially.

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The Yankees took a safe approach with Aaron Judge:

The Bombers ultimately placed Judge on the 10-day IL, allowing him sufficient rest and an opportunity to regain full health without rushing. The Yankees understand that Judge might downplay the hip injury that eventually sidelined him, but he should return early this week without residual discomfort.

“That was the calculus this weekend [if he had avoided the IL], do we want to push him back out there if he’s 85-90 percent?” manager Aaron Boone remarked. “I wasn’t comfortable doing that just because I didn’t want a strain to evolve into a severe situation where we’re talking six to eight weeks.”

Boone raises a valid point concerning a brief IL stint compared to several weeks without Judge. Although the Yankees currently occupy the bottom of the AL East, trailing by nine games, the lengthy season offers ample time for recovery.

“I think he’s doing really well. I think we’re going to be in a good spot come Tuesday, where he’s done everything and has been hitting for several days. So I would expect we roll when we go on Tuesday.”

The seasoned slugger is anticipated to be available on Tuesday against the Oakland Athletics. Ideally, the Bombers can triumph in their next match against Tampa and capitalize on a struggling Oakland team.