By Rich Mancuso/ thenyextra.com
The Yankees need Aaron Judge in the lineup. So does the manager Aaron Boone, and that is more crucial with a 60-game schedule that begins for the Yankees at the World Series champion Washington Nationals a week from tomorrow.
No Aaron Judge in the lineup may not hinder the Yankees in their quest for a championship in this unusual 2020 baseball season. But his presence in the lineup does make a difference.
Aaron Judge and the Yankess go together. But, with or without that home run power in the lineup, the Yankees are expected to be that favorite and take it all in late October.
So after missing three consecutive intrasquad games, Wednesday, Judge was back in the lineup in the Bronx after going through another round of treatment with a stiff neck. He was in right field and took batting practice.
And then in his first at bat against James Paxton, Judge may have shown he is ready. On the second pitch, offspeed, he went deep to center and it was that Judge type of home run. No crowd or “All Rise for Judge” and that will be the situation in the Bronx and at all ballparks a week from tomorrow.
The home run and walk in his second at bat is a good sign. Though, Boone will not rush his power hitter as much as he is needed. And if this was a regular season game, and they will begin to count as expected next week, Aaron Judge would not be in the lineup no matter how much he petitions to be inserted there.
The project in the next week is making sure the Yankees slugger is ready to go.
That my friends is the latest of the injury prone Aaron Judge. It is also a case with Giancarlo Stanton, and that injury prone career with the Yankees. However, Stanton has no setbacks to date during this Summer camp at Yankee Stadium.
“I do feel like it’s a short term thing that he’ll work through,” Boone said about Judge. The All-Star was considered the face of baseball two years ago when the world was normal.
Though, to many, Judge is no longer that face. Injuries have changed that. The questions come again as to when that face of Aaron Judge can be seen in the lineup on a regular basis?
Quickly, though, Aaron Judge is no longer that face in New York.
Pete Alonzo, cross-town with the Mets, surpassed the Judge rookie season home run record last year and became the baseball face in New York. It’s up to Judge and his health to take that away from Alonzo.
If Judge is ready to go, he, and Alonzo will add some interest this weekend in the Bronx and Flushing. The Yankees and Mets play two exhibition games before they open the short campaign next week. They will also see each other during their six regular division games.
This does not mean, and at 28-years-old, that Aaron Judge is no longer a threat. He can become the face again. But the Yankees need his consistent bat in the lineup with Stanton, Gary Sanchez. Gleyber Torres. That presence does make a difference with many of the others on a team that is built to hit the long ball.
Boone, said Tuesday “I think he’d probably be pushing to get in, knowing him. It just would have come down to from a swinging standpoint , how much would it affect him? How much could it be something that leads to a bad habit or something like that?”
Know the history here. Injuries do go with Aaron Judge. Judge on the scene in 2016 and in 2018 missed six weeks with a fracture to the right wrist. The oblique strain last year and losing two months of the season. The stress fracture to his ribs would have delayed the start of 2020.
Regardless, Judge in right field does make a difference. And with a limited amount of time last year, he hit .272 with 27 home runs and 55 RBI.
“But a big guy like him is bound to get hurt often,” said one AL insider.
But the Yankees are depending on the Aaron Judge presence. More so, any significant time out of the lineup this time, with this sprint of 60-games, that could have a major impact with this lineup.
OTHER YANKEE DOODLES: Stanton? He followed the Judge at bat with a home run down the left field line and inside the foul pole… Paxton, back on the mound after undergoing surgery to his back in February, could get a start against the Mets this weekend where he hopes to get the fastball velocity in the high 90’s…
Sanchez is expected to resume and show his ability in a 60-game season. How many of those games he will start remains to be determined. However, the catcher is confident after spending time in the Domincian Republic during the Coronavirus hiatus.
There, Sanchez shared videos as to the suggestion of catching coach Tanner Swanson, Erratic behind the plate, Sanchez is focused and said there is an improvement in blocking balls with his right knee, catching, and throwing.
In a span of two seasons, 2017-2018, Sanchez led baseball with 34 passed balls and that was a concern which led to questions about giving up runs in crucial spots.
He and Swanson consulted on Zoom video calls. “He’s gotten a lot better on the defensive side, and there’s still so much room for him to continue to grow,” Boone said…
Masahiro. Tanaka, under concussion protocol, after being hit by a Giancarlo Stanton liner, is expected to throw off the mound Thursday…
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