New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge has been diagnosed with a right rib stress fracture. He will be reassessed in two weeks. This is the same injury that has kept Judge out of the majority of spring training. He initially sustained what was thought to be an oblique injury against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday
The diagnosis for Aaron Judge couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Yankees. They are already without two starting pitchers in James Paxton and Luis Severino. Severino, unfortunately, will miss the entire 2020 MLB season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Giancarlo Stanton will also not be ready for opening day with a right calf strain.
With the reassessment coming in two weeks, the earliest Judge will be able to return would be March 20th. That is only six days before opening day and it would be assumed that Judge would need rehab time before getting into the lineup. And, in a worst-case scenario, surgery, at this point, has not been ruled out.
Injuries are nothing new for Judge. Judge missed 54 games last season after suffering an oblique injury in late April. On July 26, 2018, Judge was hit by a pitch in the first inning of a game against, ironically, the Royals. The subsequent chip fracture in his wrist kept Judge out of the lineup until September. He missed a total of 45 games.
Fortunately for the Yankees, there are currently several options to fill in for Judge if he has to miss significant time.
Clint Frazier has had a dazzling spring so far. He is currently batting .308 with a home run, two RBI and two doubles. Frazier is also showing an improved defensive glove giving the Yankees hope that he could be becoming the complete player they envisioned when they traded for him in 2016.
Brett Gardner is expected to man centerfield and, one of the many surprises of last season, Mike Tauchman plans to be a regular in the outfield rotation. Miguel Andujar has been serviceable in his limited time in the outfield this spring and will be an option at both the corner outfield and DH spots.
Perhaps the biggest surprise this spring has been the emergence of Rosell Herrera. Herrera signed a minor league deal with the Yankees in January of this year. So far this Spring, the usual soft-hitting utility-man has been on a tear. He is currently 9-for-16 with four of those hits being for extra bases. With the injury to Judge, the non-roster invitee is now in the conversation for the twenty-sixth man roster spot.
The obvious hope is that Aaron Judge’s CT in two weeks reveals that he has healed properly and he’ll be cleared for full activity. If not, the Yankees will once again be staring at yet another season for them to battle the injury bug as well as the rest of MLB.