Aaron Judge is back in New York and could return to the Yankees’ lineup Friday night at Baltimore.
Sidelined since early June with a toe injury, Judge played another simulated game Wednesday at the team’s complex in Tampa, Florida. He returned to the Big Apple after that, manager Aaron Boone said.
Speaking at Yankee Stadium following his team’s 3-1 victory over the New York Mets on Wednesday night, Boone said he didn’t know yet if Judge would come off the injured list Friday to face the AL East-leading Orioles.
“We’ll kind of see where we’re at tomorrow,” Boone said. “I’m not sure if he’s going to run through a workout or if rehab stuff’s on the table. I don’t know that yet. When I talk to him and get with the trainers we’ll come up with a plan.”
Earlier in the day, the New York Post reported Judge is expected to be activated Friday barring a late setback.
Boone has maintained the last-place Yankees (54-48) are taking Judge’s status day by day and he wouldn’t rule out anything, including a return this weekend without a minor league rehab assignment. The team is off Thursday.
“I know he did play again. It sounds like it went well,” Boone said Wednesday afternoon. “Let’s huddle up and see what tomorrow brings and then we’ll see.”
Judge has been out since tearing a ligament in his right big toe June 3 when he crashed into the right-field fence while making a catch at Dodger Stadium.
His progression has accelerated since the All-Star break, and the 2022 AL MVP faced live pitching Sunday at Yankee Stadium for the first time since the injury. He saw 16 pitches in a simulated game against teammate Jonathan Loáisiga, who is rehabbing from right elbow surgery. Judge fouled off four and did not put any balls in play.
Boone said Judge homered during a simulated game Tuesday in Florida. He also played the field and ran the bases.
Judge has acknowledged he won’t be pain-free when he returns, but the Yankees think he’ll be able to play right field rather than just serve as a designated hitter.
New York is 19-23 since Judge got hurt in Los Angeles. Last month, he received two injections before progressing to playing catch and taking light swings.
Judge set an American League record with 62 home runs last year. He is batting .291 with 19 homers and 40 RBIs in the first season of a $360 million, nine-year contract he signed last offseason.
The Yankees are 30-19 with Judge, who also missed 10 games earlier this season with a right hip strain sustained when he tried to steal third base in Minnesota on his 31st birthday April 26.