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How Latest Test on Aaron Judge's Rib Impacts Chances Yankees' Slugger Will Be Ready For Opening Day

Yankees' Aaron Judge shows 'slight improvement' in latest CT scan on stress fracture in right rib. How does that affect the odds of New York's slugger being ready for Opening Day?

Aaron Judge underwent a CT scan Friday to re-evaluate the stress fracture in his first right rib and the results are in. 

The Yankees' star revealed the test showed 'slight improvement,' explaining that not enough time had passed – since the initial diagnosis was announced two weeks ago – for any conclusive timetable on his return to be made. He's scheduled to undergo an additional test in another two weeks.

“The bone is still about the same. Slight improvement, but in two weeks they can’t really tell much of anything," Judge told reporters at the Yankees' Spring Training complex on Friday. "The bone is healing the way it should be.”

After weeks of discomfort in the slugger's right shoulder and pectoral muscle, acting up as position players reported to Yankees' camp early last month, more than 10 administered tests ultimately revealed a stress fracture in his first right rib.

The Yankees believe the injury was sustained on a diving catch attempt last September. Judge halted all baseball activity, per doctors orders, until further re-evaluation. Surgery for the two-time All Star is still not off the table. 

When the novel coronavirus pandemic forced Major League Baseball to suspend Spring Training and postpone Opening Day for the next eight-plus weeks, Judge – from a baseball perspective – was afforded an unexpected opportunity. 

Previously, Judge had been ruled out for the 2020 regular season opener. Now, barring any setbacks – as baseball in all likelihood won't be played until June at the earliest – No. 99 taking the field on Opening Day isn't out of the realm of possibility. 

In the meantime, New York's slugger is taking it slow, relishing extra time before the season begins.

“That’s the silver lining in all of this, having the ability to not feel rushed trying to get back for a certain date," Judge explained. "We don’t really have a date right now. I’m just trying to let it heal. Not trying to rush it.”

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Judge also disclosed that he had been recovering from pneumothorax, a collapsed lung and previously undisclosed condition. He immediately reassured, however, that the complication in his right lung had healed. 

"The pneumothorax came back completely gone, which is a good thing," the 27-year-old described. "I can fly if I need to go home."

Many of Judge's teammates and coaches have already made the decision to leave the club's spring facility and return to their personal homes, an opportunity permitted by MLB in response to COVID-19. New York initially voted unanimously to stick around moving forward and continue to practice as a team. Once a Minor League player tested positive for the coronavirus last week – a number of cases within the organization that has since climbed to two – plans began to change. 

Earlier in the week, skipper Aaron Boone began his drive back to the tri-state area while a group of players including second baseman DJ LeMahieu stood their ground, electing to stay put and utilize the Major League facility's top-notch equipment until further notice.

READ: How DJ LeMahieu is staying 'sane' during the COVID-19 pandemic

Judge has been spotted at George M. Steinbrenner throughout the week. He's been staying in shape with light activities while continuing to rehab his rib and surrounding areas. He clarified that he plans on staying in Tampa for the foreseeable future. 

“The great thing is, they’ve still got this open so we can come here and do some baseball activities and stay ready,” Judge told reporters. “I kind of feel like we’re still in baseball mode. It’s helped me out – I’ve got some stuff to do, put some stuff on the walls, cleaning. After I get all the stuff done in my apartment, I think I’m going to be going crazy a little bit.”

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For more from Max Goodman, follow him on Twitter @MaxTGoodman. Follow ITP on Twitter @SI_Yankees and Facebook @SIYankees