Home Sports Aaron Judge sits again as list of Yankees uncertainties grow

Aaron Judge sits again as list of Yankees uncertainties grow

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Ten days from Tuesday, the Yankees open a 60-game season that doesn’t have a blueprint for anybody to follow.

However, the Yankees could be without several key players when they face Nationals ace Max Scherzer next Thursday evening in Washington. The headliner among the possible absentees is Aaron Judge.

When spring training 2.0 started earlier this month many viewed the March 12 shutdown due to the coronavirus as a colossal help to the Yankees because had the regular season opened on March 26 they would have been without Giancarlo Stanton (calf), Aaron Hicks (Tommy John surgery) and Judge (fractured top right rib).

So far Stanton and Hicks are on pace to face Scherzer. The same can’t be said for Judge, who didn’t participate in a Yankee Stadium workout on Monday due to a lingering stiff neck. Judge was scratched from an intrasquad game on Saturday and didn’t play in Sunday’s game.

Also not a lock for Opening Day are Masahiro Tanaka, Aroldis Chapman, DJ LeMahieu and Luis Cessa. Tanaka hasn’t thrown since July 4 when he suffered a concussion when hit in the head by a line drive that was clocked a 112 mph off Stanton’s bat. Chapman, LeMahieu and Cessa tested positive for COVID-19 and will have to test negative twice before rejoining the team.

Aaron Judge
Aaron JudgeGetty Images

Asked if there was an indication when LeMahieu and Cessa, who haven’t gone through intake testing and are quarantining away from the team, could be available soon, Aaron Boone answered, “Maybe.’’

According to Boone, Judge showed improvement but the manager didn’t guarantee the right fielder would participate in Tuesday night’s intrasquad game at Yankee Stadium.

“Better today, he was able to do more stuff. He is actually in there right now working out in the weight room,’’ Boone said via Zoom after the Yankees worked out at the Stadium. “He was able to take some swings in the cage so another good step for him [Monday]. So we will see if he is in there [Tuesday] or not. I don’t know. He still has to get a little improvement in there but we will see how he is doing [Tuesday]. Pretty good day overall.’’

Boone pointed to Judge having more range of motion in his neck and said that was an indication of the right fielder being “quite a bit better [Monday].’’

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As for Tanaka, Boone said he had a throw date for the veteran right-hander but didn’t share the information.

“He is doing well. He ramped up a little bit more [Monday],’’ Boone said of Tanaka, who long tossed in the outfield and ran. “I think he got a lower-body workout in today and continues to respond the right way with the added workload. Also making sure we go slow and smartly with it.’’

When spring training 2.0 opened Tanaka was viewed as the second or third starter behind ace Gerrit Cole, but the concussion clouded the possibility of Tanaka being ready to pitch at the start of the 60-game season.

“It depends what you define as ready. He is not going to be built up very much. I am kind of a step at a time with Masa,’’ Boone said. “He is getting to the point where the next step will be getting on the mound. When is he able to face hitters — if that is able to happen between now and the next week or two. These are things that will determine themselves. Obviously with the extended roster [30 for the initial two weeks], there is a little more flexibility at the start if we have to creatively build him up at some point. But first things first, today was another positive day and hopefully we keep moving forward.’’

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