Had the regular season started when it was supposed to in late March, the Yankees would have had to go without the face of their franchise, right fielder Aaron Judge, for a lengthy period of time. A right rib fracture and a punctured lung slowed Judge during the first version of spring training this year, but the slugger now has a chance to be in the Yankees’ season-opening lineup in a month, Erik Boland of Newsday reports.
Judge, whose injury problems first cropped up in February, has finally returned to hitting off a tee, per Boland. While that doesn’t mean he’ll be ready for Game 1 of the Yankees’ season, it’s still a a positive development for the club, which would have opened a normal season without three of its best outfield options in Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks. Each player was shelved with injuries during the spring, though we now know Hicks expects to return from his October 2019 Tommy John procedure once the season starts.
Like Hicks, Stanton – who dealt with a calf strain during the spring – is a near certainty right now to be part of New York’s opener, according to Boland. Injuries have been a major problem dating back to last season for Stanton, whose second year as a Yankee consisted of a mere 18 games.