The sensational, fence-bending Aaron Judge catch that helped protect a late Yankees lead this past weekend at Dodger Stadium has come with a significant price, as the reigning American League Most Valuable Player has returned to the injured list for the second time this season.
Can these Yankees win without their captain? They’re going to need to.
The Yankees have not provided a clear timetable for Judge’s return from the right great toe injury he sustained while making that catch on Saturday in Los Angeles, robbing the Dodgers’ J.D. Martinez of an extra-base hit while running full force into a concrete slab.
X-rays and an MRI confirmed no fracture in the toe; Judge was diagnosed with a contusion and a sprain. As the Dodgers made plans to add padding reinforcement to the “Judge Zone” in the Majors’ third-oldest active ballpark, Judge received a platelet-rich plasma injection, intended to speed healing, on Tuesday in New York.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that Judge is “pretty sore” following the injection and that the team would reveal a target date for Judge’s return after its upcoming series against the Red Sox.
“It’s really about getting the swelling out of there, which I’m sure will be [in] the next several days, and then hopefully we’ll have a better idea of the timeline, possibly by the weekend,” Boone said.
But the tea leaves seem to indicate that we’re talking about a Judge absence measured in weeks, not days, and that’s a significant concern for the Yankees.
Judge played in 157 games last season, a remarkable campaign that saw him eclipse Roger Maris’ single-season American League home run record before scoring a nine-year, $360 million deal to claim his forever pinstripes.
Though Judge missed 10 games from April 28-May 8 of this season with a strained right hip, he still leads all Major League qualifiers with a .674 slugging percentage and a 189 wRC+ this season, while belting 13 home runs over his last 19 games.
But here's a stat that may be the most significant: the Yankees are 30-19 when Judge plays this season, and 6-7 when he does not, including Tuesday’s loss to the White Sox.
“Can’t replace that guy, from a leadership standpoint [or] from a playing standpoint,” said third baseman Josh Donaldson. “We’re just really going to have to come together as a team and grind out at-bats, play good defense, pitch the ball well, and hopefully you keep winning ballgames until he gets back.”
Judge was sidelined soon after Giancarlo Stanton and Donaldson returned from their respective hamstring injuries this past season, and as Harrison Bader continues to mend a hamstring injury, hopefully returning late this weekend or early next week.
Incredibly, the Yanks have not had Bader, Judge and Stanton together in the lineup for a single game yet this season. In the meantime, look for Jake Bauers, Willie Calhoun, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and others to pick up outfield at-bats while Judge recuperates.
Speaking on Sunday in Los Angeles, Judge said that he believes a strong mentality in the clubhouse helps the team power through injuries to star players.
“These past couple of years, we’ve talked about all these top prospects we have, guys on the cusp of getting the chance to be in the big leagues,” he said. “Now we’re getting a chance to see some of those guys.
“Speaking specifically of [Oswaldo] Cabrera, two long flights, also hits a homer in his first game back and is making great plays for us on defense and playing wherever he needs to. I think everybody has a good mindset, and they’re ready for the role when they get it.”
Who holds the Yankees’ franchise record for hits in a single season?
A) Joe DiMaggio
B) Lou Gehrig
C) Derek Jeter
D) Don Mattingly
THIS DATE IN YANKEES HISTORY
June 8, 1969: “Mickey Mantle Day” was celebrated at Yankee Stadium, as The Mick’s No. 7 jersey was retired with a Monument Park plaque unveiled in his honor. The Yankees swept a doubleheader from the White Sox by scores of 3-1 and 11-2.
“Donnie Baseball” stroked 238 hits during the 1986 season, an All-Star campaign in which Mattingly batted .352 and paced the Majors in plate appearances (742), hits, doubles (53), slugging percentage (.573), OPS (.967) and total bases (388).
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