ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Aaron Judge was back in the lineup and in right field for the Yankees on Saturday against the Rays after missing the previous two games with soreness in his left side.
But there’s still not much clarity on Judge’s “injury” situation.
After Judge had a hit and two strikeouts in a 4-0 loss at Tropicana Field, manager Aaron Boone said the right fielder seemed OK.
Judge, who had last played Tuesday, sat out Wednesday’s game, before the Yankees off-day Thursday.
Asked what told him Judge was ready to return, Boone said, “Him.”
Despite Judge’s return, Boone said the Yankees will “closely monitor him. … We’ll certainly monitor how he’s moving.”
If Judge doesn’t report any problems, Boone said he expects him to start again Sunday.
Still, there remained no answer to what happened to Judge in the first place.
“I think it was a gradual kind of workload,” Boone said. “Probably swinging a lot, doing a lot of cage work, that led to some soreness that developed over time.”
And which came less than a week into the regular season.
Boone said Judge wanted to play Friday, but the manager wanted to be cautious with the injury-prone slugger, who has had rib and oblique issues in the past. The Yankees have still not specified exactly what Judge has been dealing with. When he also missed the final three games of spring training, the team said the first two were rest days and the third was because he was dealing with allergies.
“It’s always good to write his name in there,’’ Boone said. “We’re just trying to be cautious with him early [in the season], not wanting this to become something that becomes an issue. Hopefully we’re able to get past that.”
Judge homered in each of his previous two games, but didn’t appear comfortable on the bases or in the field on Wednesday.
Jay Bruce batted ninth for the first time in his career Saturday and went 0-for-3, extending his slump to 3-for-27. He is hitless in 14 straight at-bats.
“In the first three or four games he had a lot of good at-bats,’’ Boone said. “The last couple games he’s struggled a bit. That’s gonna happen throughout the season. He’s been a little bit off.”
As for how Bruce is playing at first base, Boone said: “I think he’s done a lot of good things there,” but needs more time at the spot for plays to become “second nature” to him. There’s still room for growth there.”
Gio Urshela said he felt “way better” after spending Friday on the COVID-19 injured list following an adverse reaction to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine left him feeling “a little weak” Thursday and Friday.
Clint Frazier, without a hit in 13 at-bats, didn’t start Saturday, but Boone said it was “just a day [off],” with the lefty-swinging Brett Gardner going against Rays right-hander Chris Archer.
Boone said Frazier remains his starting left fielder, adding he didn’t think Frazier has been “pressing.”
“It’s a few games, he’s struggled and is a little bit off,” Boone said. “It’s part of the ebbs and flows [of a season]. It’s not something I’m concerned about over the long haul. He’ll get through this.”
Left-hander Justin Wilson, activated from the 10-day IL on Friday after being out with left shoulder inflammation, said he was “fine.” He threw a scoreless inning Saturday.