Yankees manager Aaron Boone wouldn’t call Aaron Judge’s current ailment an oblique injury. He wouldn’t even call it an injury. But the left side soreness that Judge is dealing with will keep him out of the lineup at least another day as the team remains cautious with its two-time All-Star.
“Just felt like I wanted to at least wait another day,” Boone said. “Had a good day of treatment late afternoon and into the evening yesterday. Same this morning, actually. Hit in the cage this morning and that went well.
“And again, I just felt like it was something I wanted to at least give another day and we’ll see where we’re at in 24 hours. It’s simply wanting to play the long game and not force anything back in, just to be safe at this point right now.”
Boone said Judge has been going through “a number of tests” with the strength and conditioning team, but no MRIs because that has not been recommended to them.
After homering in a second consecutive game on Tuesday, Judge was not in Wednesday’s lineup against Baltimore. At the time, Boone noted that Judge was sore on his left side and that the team did not want him to push through. When asked if the soreness was affecting Judge’s oblique, Boone said it was just “general soreness”.
Judge has twice missed time in the Majors due to oblique strains, including a two-month stretch during the 2019 season. Boone said Judge’s prior injury history is “all baked into the cake” in regard to keeping him out of the lineup for now.
“Trying to weigh all those things into account, understanding that we also have a very tough player that takes pride in being able to go out there when he can,” Boone said. “Certainly, the history of that injury, not something we want to aggravate.”
Given that Judge took swings in the batting cage Friday morning, Boone said Judge’s situation is less about being limited and more about the team “making sure” he’s ready to go. Boone experienced some soft-tissue injuries — calf and hamstring — in his own playing career, so he knows the risk of re-injury in the final days of recovery.
“I feel like, when you’re good to go, you probably need another day sometimes,” he said.
Wrong side of the ceremony
Prior to Friday’s game, which was the Rays’ home opener, Tampa Bay revealed its American League East and AL Champions banners in front of a reduced-sellout crowd of roughly 9,000.
From the Yankees’ side, there’s good reason for the banner ceremony to sting. Not only did the Rays dethrone the Yanks as division champs, but Tampa Bay also went on to oust New York in a gut-wrenching AL Division Series that went the distance.
Yankees centerfielder Aaron Hicks acknowledged that it’ll be tough to look up and see those pennants in another team’s ballpark.
“That’s definitely something that we want to be doing,” Hicks said. “But they won last year, this is a new year and we expect to go out there and dominate.”
It was the Rays who dominated this matchup last season, winning eight of 10 regular-season games ahead of the ALDS victory. But Hicks made it clear there is no particular need for revenge — the Rays are simply one of 29 teams in the Yankees’ way.
“They’re in the way of the goal we ultimately want to get to, and that’s to get to the World Series and win the World Series,” Hicks said. “Any team is in our way, and especially when they’re in our division.”
Urshela dealing with vaccine side effects
Third baseman Gio Urshela was added to the COVID-19 injured list prior to Friday’s game due to side effects from the vaccination, the team announced.
Urshela went 2-for-5 against Baltimore on Wednesday and had a game-tying RBI double in the eighth inning. He’s batting 6-for-23 (.261) through six games.
In a corresponding move, the Yankees recalled first baseman Mike Ford from their alternate training site. He was already with the team in St. Petersburg as a member of the taxi squad.