Aaron Judge takes on-field batting practice, but not ready to talk return date

15 July 2023

DENVER — Aaron Judge took a step in the right direction on Friday, testing his right big toe with some on-field batting practice at Coors Field.

Judge, who has been out since tearing a ligament in his toe on June 3, said he didn’t feel limited “at all” while swinging. The outfielder, who is using orthotic insoles, also did some running, though not at full speed.

“I really wouldn’t say pain,” Judge said when asked if he felt any while hitting. “I’d say we’re getting better every single day. Like it’s not healed. So obviously, it is what it is, but we’re progressing every single day.”

While Judge seemed happy with his BP session, he did not want to talk about possible target dates for his return to a Yankees lineup that has missed him.

“I’m just trying to get closer every single day,” he said. “When I’m out there, you guys will see me out there.”

Aaron Boone, meanwhile, had some fun when asked if there’s “a shot” Judge could return before the end of July.

“Sure. I think there’s a shot,” Boone said before looking into a YES Network camera. “Now, is that going to be Aaron Boone said that he thinks he’ll be back in July? That’s not what I said.

“Yes, there’s a shot. But that’s all. I was answering a question. There’s a shot that could happen, but I’m not going to put a timeframe on this. He’s doing well, and we’re encouraged by what we’re seeing. He’ll be ready when he’s ready.”

Boone also said he was “encouraged” by Judge’s hitting and running, but he wasn’t thinking about how many rehab games the slugger will need just yet. The manager said that decision will be made once Judge is ready for games.

“The biggest step will be when I get a chance to be on the field and I’m in games,” Judge said. “That’s gonna be the real test for me.”

Boone and Judge also noted that the latter needs to build up his stamina and endurance, a process that will continue even after he returns.

“Once we get him back, we’ll probably have to bring that along a little bit slowly,” Boone said, “but I’ve been encouraged that he’s been running and hitting and moving in a good direction.”

Added Judge: “We’re slowly progressing to where we need to be. Now it’s just about getting reps and maybe the endurance and stamina. Being off of it for five weeks is tough.”


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