The Yankees’ season has again been punctuated by injuries for high-profile players, but manager Aaron Boone tells reporters that both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton could get at-bats at the alternate training site this weekend and return “shortly after that” if all goes well (Twitter link, with video, via SNY). On a less-optimistic note, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweets that Boone also acknowledged it will be “challenging” for lefty James Paxton to return this season.
Judge missed nearly two weeks early last month due to a calf injury and returned for just one game before heading back to the IL with further troubles in that same calf. Stanton, meanwhile, has played only 14 games in 2020 due to a hamstring strain that has sidelined him for more than a month now.
It’s the second consecutive injury marred season for the pair of former 50-homer sluggers. Both have been excellent when on the field — Judge is hitting .292/.343/.738 and Stanton .293/.453/.585 — but they’ve combined for only 125 trips to the plate. The timing of their return next week is pivotal. The Yankees are set to host the Blue Jays for three games beginning Tuesday, and they’ll travel to face them in a four-game set the following week. The Jays recently leapfrogged the Yankees in the standings and now hold a two-game lead over Boone’s club, which is clinging to the No. 8 seed after dropping seven of its past ten contests.
The news on Paxton isn’t good but also isn’t unexpected after last night’s update that he’d be shut down from throwing for a few days following soreness in his most recent throwing session. Paxton, who also underwent back surgery in February, has been limited to five ineffective starts for the Yankees so far in 2020 and has been out since Aug. 21 due to a Grade 1 flexor strain.
Boone didn’t completely rule out a return in 2020, and a lengthy postseason run for the Yankees would obviously improve his odds of healing up enough to make it back to the mound. However, the uncertainty surrounding his return date also creates the possibility that Paxton, a free agent this winter, has thrown his final pitch for the Yankees.