By Lenn Robbins
“You get this whole team healthy, we’re going to crush the record that we set last year. When we make contact, it goes. We’re a team that’s primed and ready to do that.” – Aaron Judge, May 3, 2019
He has become, not just the face of the Yankees but one of the faces of Major League Baseball. His size, his smile, his ability to crush a ball that leaves fans and teammates with jaws dropped has made Aaron Judge the next great Yankees slugger – a home grown player that has been as comfortable in pinstripes as a Fortune 500 CEO is in a pinstripe suit.
When Judge backed up Brent Gardner’s claim that the Yankees would crush the single-season record of 267 homers cracked last season, the baseball world took note. But the one caveat – “You get this whole healthy” – has stood between the Yankees and a record.
Perhaps until now.
Judge (strained oblique) hasn’t played since April 20.. He has just five home runs on the season. Judge homered to the opposite field in Tuesday night’s Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre game. He could rejoin the big club before the weekend.
“He feels good,” manager Aaron Boone recently told MLB.com. “I think he’d prefer being back already.
“But I think the nature of the injury and just how we’ve had to bring him back, I think it’s important that he gets a couple more games down in there where he’s in the field, bouncing back, running the bases, those kinds of things. So he’s doing really well, he feels good, he feels like he’s ready. I’m excited to see him here in a few days.”
Giancarlo Stanton (biceps, shoulder, calf) returned to the lineup last night against the Rays. It was just his fourth game of the season.
Consider this: In 2017, when Stanton was with the Marlins, he, Judge and Gary Sanchez combined for a whopping 144 home runs. Sanchez, who fought injuries, slumped last season. The trio combined for 73 long balls with Stanton blasting 38 and Judge, who also battled injuries, hitting 27.
Sanchez (20 homers) already has surpassed his 2018 total of 18. Which brings us back to Judge’s May statement: “You get this whole team healthy, we’re going to crush that record.”
all images in gallery Neil Miller nysportextra copyright 2019
Stanton is back. Judge seemingly is on the way. Let the record chase begin.