Aaron Judge Off IL; Why He's Starting at Designated Hitter, Not in Right Field

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The wait is over. 

Yankees' slugger Aaron Judge is back in the starting lineup for Tuesday night's road game in Atlanta after missing two weeks with a right calf strain.

As expected, New York reinstated the superstar off the 10-day injured list on Tuesday afternoon. He fills a spot on the active roster previously occupied by either James Paxton or Gleyber Torres, key contributors that were placed on the IL on Friday with Grade 1 muscle strains. 

As left-handed reliever Luis Avilán heads to the injured list as well, Judge is joined by utilityman Miguel Andújar and right-hander Brooks Kriske as those activated by the club ahead of Tuesday evening's contest. 

That said, Yankees fans may have been a bit confused when the Bombers revealed its lineup, featuring Judge starting at designated hitter. 

Is he not completely healthy and ready to play in the field?

In his pregame managerial presser, Aaron Boone gave an explanation of the decision, a choice rooted in some precipitation in Atlanta.

"I was considering [playing Judge at designated hitter] one game down here or just playing him both games in right field with the off day Thursday," Boone explained. "Today was a better day to go the DH route and then when it was raining all morning and into the afternoon, I had a conversation with Aaron and said, let's DH today and then we'll go from there."

In other words, as Judge said on Sunday, No. 99 is "ready to go." 

READ: Aaron Judge Not a Fan of MLB Playoffs in Bubble: 'Takes Away From the Point of Winning'

With the rainfall serving as "the tiebreaker" for Boone on Judge, Mike Tauchman got the nod in right field. 

Just a few days ago, Judge opened up about his time on the injured list, explaining he would've loved to be have been out on the field earlier and felt ready just days after initially being placed on the IL. With a tough stretch ahead—as New York will play five games in three days against the Mets this weekend—he wants to start in right field "every single game."

It's safe to say after serving as New York's designated hitter on Tuesday night, Judge will be back out on the outfield grass Wednesday evening. After an off day on Thursday, the Yankees will play their final 33 games of the season in a span of 31 days.

Coming off an unexpected four-day respite—due to coronavirus-induced postponements after members of the Mets' organization tested positive—Boone hopes the layoff will be beneficial rather than a catalyst of more injuries due to a sudden return to in-game action.

"Hoping more that it's more of a net positive as far as having a little bit of down recovery time," Boone said. "We've been going pretty hard so far, sort of like an all star break although obviously we worked out over it. I think we have a challenging stretch coming up after our off day on Thursday. So we'll have to be mindful of that, but just try and do the best we can to navigate through it and lean on a lot of our players."

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