Yankees' Skipper Aaron Boone Reveals When He Expects Aaron Judge to Return to Game Action

Max Goodman

DUNEDIN, Fla. – Yankees' manager Aaron Boone provided some clarity on Tuesday afternoon regarding when Aaron Judge will take the field for the first time this spring.

Since reporting to New York's Spring Training facility last week, Judge has been sidelined with right shoulder soreness, consequently limiting his ability to take swings.

"I would say no playing for sure this week," Boone explained prior to the Yankees' 4-1 win against the Toronto Blue Jays. "After the off day, I'll probably have a good lay of the land about when we’re going to get him in the game. Hopefully shortly there after." 

The star outfielder first revealed the discomfort in his throwing shoulder last Wednesday. Since then, he's progressed well, slowly increasing distance in his throwing program and gradually taking more hacks in the batting cage.

"Judge threw out to 120 [feet] yesterday," the Yankees' manager disclosed. "He’ll tee and toss again today and then similar throwing. He’s doing well, came out of yesterday really well too."

The 27-year-old's moderate progression comes as some good news on a day when it was announced Luis Severino will need Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. The right-hander had returned to New York for further testing on discomfort in his right forearm and an MRI arthrogram revealed a partial tear in Severino's ulnar collateral ligament.

READ: Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone and Yankees players react to Severino's season-ending injury

The next steps from here for Judge, per Boone, is to take batting practice outside with his teammates and eventually face live pitching. At that point, he'll be ready to make his debut.

With Opening Day still four weeks away, however, the Bombers feel no need to rush the slugger back and risk further injury. A conservative approach remains the plan of attack for the Yanks.

He will, however, need to build up before taking the field on the first day of the regular season. Boone said on Tuesday that a typical benchmark for position players in the spring is at least 30 at-bats before Opening Day. 

That being said, the skipper doesn't foresee a situation where the club is scrambling to get Judge a sufficient amount of plate appearances before the conclusion of Spring Training. 

"I don’t envision us trying to squeeze it into two, two and a half weeks," he said, clarifying 30 to 60 at-bats would be ideal for Judge. "I feel like he’ll have plenty of time based on what we’re seeing right now."

The Yankees will have their first off day of the spring on Monday. The club is 26 game days away from Opening Day – March 26 in Baltimore. 

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