Yankees News: Aaron Judge takes rehab step, lefty catcher gets a big chance

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May 13, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Judge (99) hits a two-run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

In a surprising turn of events leading up to their Friday evening clash with the Kansas City Royals, the New York Yankees made some startling revelations that sent shockwaves through their fan base.

Foremost among these was the news that starting catcher Jose Treviño has been diagnosed with a right wrist tear, effectively ending his season. Despite grappling with the injury since spring training and attempts to manage the pain, it ultimately impacted Treviño’s productivity.

Ben Rortvedt Steps Up from AAA

In light of Treviño’s premature season closure, the Yankees have promoted 25-year-old Ben Rortvedt from AAA. Acquired from the Minnesota Twins last year in a deal that also saw Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Josh Donaldson move to the Bronx, Rortvedt has played 29 games with Scranton this season. He boasts a .286 batting average with a .395 OBP, six homers, 22 RBIs, and a 126 wRC+.

Although he has played just five games for the Yankees so far, hitting .286 with a .444 OBP, his numbers will likely adjust with a larger sample size. Rortvedt, a lefty batter with solid defensive skills, could potentially thrive at the next level, especially given the advantage he could gain from the short porch in Yankee Stadium.

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Progress Report: Aaron Judge’s Recovery and Return

In addition to the news of Treviño’s injury, it has been reported that Aaron Judge is progressing well in rehab and is expected to partake in a simulated batting session against Jonathan Loáisiga over the weekend. His recent running of the bases on Wednesday certainly indicates positive momentum toward a potential return.

However, Judge did reveal prior to Friday’s game that he will have to manage pain for the rest of the season, signaling that he won’t be operating at full capacity. If the Yankees are pinning their hopes on Judge reclaiming his MVP-caliber performance while battling injury, they could be chasing a pipe dream.

When Judge left the team, he was hitting .291 with a .404 OBP, including 19 homers and 40 RBIs. His absence has taken a toll on the Yankees’ offensive capabilities, contributing to a dwindling hope for a playoff spot.

Trade Deadline Strategies: Brian Cashman’s Hopes

General manager Brian Cashman is likely planning to bolster the team by aligning Judge’s return with an acquisition or two at the trade deadline. This strategy holds unless the Yankees continue their decline in the standings, which could prompt a sell-off.