Yankees' Aaron Judge returns from broken wrist, but with a bit of a catch
Judge will only play defense and pinch-run for the time being
Seven weeks after an errant fastball broke a bone in his right wrist, Aaron Judge has rejoined the Yankees. The team activated its star slugger off the disabled list Friday before it took on the Blue Jays.
There is a catch, however.
Manage Aaron Boone told reporters Judge has not yet been cleared to hit in games. He will be limited to late-inning defensive work and pinch-running duty for the time being. He's still a few days from hitting in games.
Such was the case Friday night as Judge entered the game to a standing ovation in the eighth inning. He played two uneventful innings without any action, but it was a welcome sight for Yankees fans to see their star back on the field in New York's 11-0 victory.
Judge started swinging a bat last week and has gradually progressed from taking dry swings to hitting off a tee to hitting in the batting cage to taking full blown batting practice. And, based on his batting practice display during the team's visit to Target Field earlier this week, the wrist is feeling pretty good. Judge hit several long home runs during his hitting work.
Why activate Judge if he can't hit? Well, why not? Rosters are expanded, so carrying a part-time player is no big deal, and if Judge can help the Yankees win a game with his glove or legs, the Yankees will take it. They are only 1 1/2 games up on the Athletics for the top wild-card spot, after all. They want to play that game in Yankee Stadium, not in Oakland.
The minor-league season is over and there's no way to get Judge into rehab games, so he'll have to try to get up to speed at the plate in simulated games. It's not ideal, but that's the only option. Judge will get some at-bats in simulated games the next few days, then return to the lineup and use the rest of the season to prepare for the postseason.
With Judge out, the Yankees initially played career infielder Neil Walker in right field before acquiring Andrew McCutchen. Fitting Judge, McCutchen, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton, and Brett Gardner into the lineup once Judge returns as a full play will take some creativity, but the Yankees will be happy to have that problem.
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