Delay to MLB Season Has Allowed Aaron Judge's Rib Injury to 'Continue to Heal'

Max Goodman

This weekend marks the one-month anniversary of what would have been Opening Day of the 2020 MLB season. 

Instead of approaching the conclusion of a first full month of games, the baseball world has been dormant, patiently waiting for an update regarding the novel coronavirus pandemic and when sports could return.

In the meantime, and purely from a baseball perspective, the Yankees have benefitted from the hiatus to this season immensely. After experiencing a multitude of injuries this spring, carrying over from an injury-plagued campaign a year ago, New York was set to start the 2020 season without several key contributors.

Now, stars like Aaron Judge – who didn't play a single game in the Grapefruit League this spring – are on the mend. Yankees' skipper Aaron Boone confirmed on Thursday that the coronavirus-induced delay has afforded the Bombers' right fielder an opportunity to "continue to heal" his fractured rib.

"We're using this time, he's using this time, to continue to heal," Boone told Meredith Marakovits in a digital exclusive with YES Network. "I don't really have much more for you other than obviously it's been very productive having the chance to have this time to allow that rib to heal and that is happening."

Boone reported that while the vast majority of the Yankees' roster has dispersed across the country, Judge has stuck around in Tampa, rehabbing at New York's Spring Training complex. 

No. 99 is nursing a stress fracture in his first right rib, an injury he initially sustained diving for a fly ball this past September. Discomfort flared up in his right shoulder and pectoral muscle early this spring, hindering the slugger from participating in much of Spring Training, before the diagnosis of a cracked rib was officially revealed.

Further, the 27-year-old had a previously undisclosed pneumothorax – collapsed lung – that was believed to be traced back to that same instance landing hard on the outfield grass. By the time Judge told reporters about that aspect of his injury, however, it had already healed.

READ: Dr. Anthony Fauci reveals he's a lifelong Yankees fan, reminisces about five-consecutive titles for his favorite team while he was growing up in Brooklyn

Had the regular season started on time, Judge was bound to spend weeks – perhaps even months, or longer – on the injured list. Now, should the season begin later this summer, the right fielder could be back in business if the rib can continue to heal with no setbacks. 

Before getting overly excited about Judge's return to baseball activity, however, Boone told Marakovits that he's cautiously optimistic, waiting to here more on Judge's status just like millions of anxiety-ridden Yankees fans. 

"As for where he's at exactly, we don't have anything for you on that yet," he explained.

New York is evidently taking its time before re-evaluating Judge's rib – as the club's medical team had previously done at the end of March. Following that re-evaluation, Boone had told members of the media that he's grateful Judge will get plenty of rest and he's "hopeful" the star can be ready to take the field with his teammates when New York plays its first game.

Still, no definitive date has been set for when (or if) the 2020 regular season will begin. With no games to play, Judge has spent the past several weeks giving back to the community – as he announced he will be taking part in the 'ALL IN Challenge' raising money for COVID-19 relief – and chatting with other superstar athletes live on social media.

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

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