The Yankees have gone without their best player, injured right fielder Aaron Judge, since July 26, but it appears he’s getting closer to a return as the playoffs draw nearer. Judge participated in on-field drills Friday for the first time since he suffered a chip fracture in his right wrist, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com relays, leading to excitement from manager Aaron Boone. “This is what we’ve been waiting for this whole time, for that pain to get out of there, for him to be able to really swing,” said Boone, who added, “Now it’s just a matter of getting back up to baseball speed, building that stamina and then obviously graduating to live pitching, to seeing an actual pitcher.” Judge would like to return to the majors within two weeks, Hoch notes, and doing so would give him time to shake off some rust prior to the Yankees’ wild-card round matchup in early October.
More on the Bronx Bombers…
- Outfielder Brett Gardner is the current longest-tenured Yankee, having debuted with the team back in 2008, but his future is in question beyond this season, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post points out. The Yankees will head into 2019 with a host of corner outfield possibilities, regardless of whether Gardner’s still with them, and a decision to make on his $12.5MM club option (or $2MM buyout). While the Yankees could exercise the option and trade Gardner, who remains valuable at age 35, he’ll have a major say in whether a deal will happen. Gardner informed Davidoff that he has already earned 10-and-5 rights, giving him the ability to put the kibosh on any trade. As you’d expect, though, Gardner’s more focused on the present than how the offseason could unfold. “I haven’t put too much thought into next year yet,” Gardner said. “And to be honest, I really don’t plan to until after the season. That’s kind of how I always try to compartmentalize things like that.”
- Unlike Judge and Gardner, first baseman Greg Bird hasn’t contributed much to New York’s success this year. Between that and fellow first baseman Luke Voit’s tremendous production since the Yankees acquired him from the Cardinals in July, Bird may not even make the Bombers’ playoff roster, George A. King III of the New York Post observes. Many expected the oft-injured Bird to break out in 2018, but his season got off on the wrong foot – literally – when he underwent right ankle surgery in late March. The 26-year-old didn’t debut until the end of May as a result, and he has batted a disastrous .179/.284/.386 in 296 plate appearances since then.
- Voit, meanwhile, is relishing his time as a Yankee, as Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. The fiery 27-year-old has slashed .308/.372/.615 with eight home runs in just 86 plate trips with the Yankees, after spending the first few months of the season with the Cardinals’ Triple-A team. But Voit doesn’t harbor any ill feelings toward the Cardinals, as he noted that two “great” first base options – Matt Carpenter and Jose Martinez – blocked him in St. Louis. Continued Voit: “The Yankees have let me play. This is the first time in my career that I’ve gotten to play two straight weeks in a row.” Frederickson’s piece contains more quotes from Voit, for whom the playoff-contending Cardinals acquired relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos. Shreve’s the only one of the two who has pitched for the Cards so far, and he has posted solid results.