The Yankees will activate star outfielder Aaron Judge off the injured list on Friday, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports (Twitter link). Judge has already joined the team in New York as the Yankees begin an important four-game series against Houston starting tonight.
The slugger has spent the last week playing in Triple-A rehab games, as Judge puts the final touches on his recovery from a left oblique strain. That injury sent Judge to the IL back on April 21, interrupting what had been a strong start (.288/.404/.521 and five homers over 89 PA) to the 2019 campaign for the former Rookie Of The Year.
Judge now rejoins a Yankees lineup that, incredibly, barely seemed to slow down despite the long-term absences of several notable starters — despite missing Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, Didi Gregorius for long stretches and losing Miguel Andujar to season-ending shoulder surgery, New York still ranks within the top ten in most team offensive categories. Between these returning star hitters and the newly-acquired Edwin Encarnacion, the Yankees now boast arguably the game’s most impressive lineup.
Cameron Maybin’s continued roster status could now be in question with Judge returning, unless the Yankees choose to option a reliever to Triple-A and keep both Maybin and Brett Gardner as backup outfielders. The latter option would allow the Yankees to perhaps spell Judge and Stanton in the later innings to keep them fresh as they return from their long IL absences, since DH duty isn’t as much of an option now with Encarnacion in the fold. Maybin is playing on a minor league contract this season, and was acquired from Cleveland in late April as a response to the Yankees’ injury-depleted outfield. Maybin, for his part, has hit very well since donning the pinstripes, taking a .307/.383/.491 slash line over 128 plate appearances into today’s action.