NEW YORK — Major League Baseball's home run leader is headed to the injured list.
Aaron Judge has been placed on the 10-Day Injured List with a mild right calf strain, Yankees' manager Aaron Boone announced on Friday afternoon.
"I just think it’s really important that he not go out there and hurt this thing significantly trying to play through something," Boone said. "We’ve gone ahead and made that move. Hopefully it should be a pretty short stint on the IL."
To replace Judge on the active roster, the Yankees recalled utilityman Thairo Estrada from the club's alternate site. Mike Tauchman is in the Yankees' starting lineup in right field on Friday night and Clint Frazier is in at designated hitter.
Judge had been taken out midway through Tuesday's game, just moments after he hit his ninth home run of the season. Initially, it seemed like a false alarm as Boone explained he was simply being smart with resting his stars during this unprecedented campaign.
The next day, with Judge out of the lineup, Boone said the slugger was managing "lower body tightness."
With an off day on Thursday, Boone was hopeful the star would be ready to play in Friday's series opener against the Red Sox. An MRI on Thursday, however, revealed Judge's mild strain.
"He’s as tough as they come," Boone said on Friday. "He’s a guy that has demonstrated an ability to play through things and grind through things. To his credit, the last couple of days, he’s been forthcoming and has gotten all the necessary treatment and testing to get a handle on exactly where we are knowing how bad he wants to get back on the field as quickly as possible."
Even if the diagnosis is at or below a Grade 1 strain—and "fairly mild" as Boone put it—New York wanted to make sure Judge wouldn't risk a further injury, something that could keep him out for an extended period of time.
"This is something that in a couple of days he will be ready to push through but I also think when you’re talking about calves, when you’re talking about hamstrings, it’s a situation where you can tweak it more and all of a sudden, you’re looking at a four to six week situation. That’s really what we’re trying to avoid here," Boone said.
Judge being placed on the injured list is retroactive to Wednesday, when he missed his first game of the season. Up to that point, Judge had played in all of the Yankees' first 17 games.
Earlier in the week, Boone had referenced a four-game series against the Rays on the turf at Tropicana Field as a likely source of Judge's lower body tightness. On Friday, the skipper clarified it's more of a "wear and tear" issue, something with no singular moment where the strain occurred.
That wasn't the case for designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton, who sustained a Grade 1 left hamstring strain sliding into second base in the nightcap of a doubleheader on Saturday. He is also on the 10-Day Injured List.
Both Stanton and Judge had missed extended periods of time last season and despite hot starts between the lines this summer, they both find themselves back on the sidelines.
"We’ve lost two MVP-caliber players," Boone said. "That is a blow. And especially two guys that are playing as well as they are in Aaron and Giancarlo. Absolutely we have the people that can withstand this and we have a ton of confidence in the lineup we’re running out there tonight and expect to go out there and perform at a very high level."
Entering play on Friday, Judge was leading all of baseball with nine home runs, 20 RBI and a .758 slugging percentage. The slugger was hitting .290 (18-for-62), powering one of the best offenses in the game to a 12-6 record to start the shortened campaign.
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