NEW YORK — As two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani prepares to take the mound on Wednesday night, it'll take a complete performance by the Yankees' offense to put runs on the board.
Not only will a matchup with Ohtani be a challenge, but New York will have to do it without Aaron Judge in the starting lineup.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone elected to sit the star right fielder on Wednesday, giving the slugger a day off in the midst of a stretch with 13 games in a row.
"Just a day. One that I feel like he really needs," Boone said.
Give Judge some credit. After multiple seasons filled with injuries, the outfielder has played in 75 of New York's 79 games to start the regular season. With an ace on the mound—just days after Boone admitted that this club's season is "on the line"—it's a little odd to see a team rest their best player.
Boone admitted that it was a tough call not to start his slugger.
"Oh yeah, today is a very hard one with all we're going through as a club and who he is to our team," Boone said. "But I also have to at times keep the big picture in mind."
Keeping the big picture in mind is a tactic Boone and the Yankees will often employ when laying out playing time. The same reasoning has been used before with Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and others.
Boone added that Judge has been banged up this season, never sustaining any injuries that would result in him missing time, but his consistent play has taken a toll to a certain extent.
Asked if Judge fought back with Boone's decision to keep him out of the lineup, the manager explained that the two have a consistent dialogue, constantly working together to make sure he's staying healthy.
The conservative approach is certainly warranted with Judge's injury history. That doesn't make it any easier for fans who were eager to see Judge and Ohtani—two MVP-caliber ballplayers—face off between the lines on Wednesday night.