Boone On WFAN: Judge's Recovery Going 'Slower Than Expected'

Yankees Manager Provides Injury Updates On Several Players Thursday

Carlin, Maggie & Bart
August 30, 2018 - 6:27 pm
Aaron Judge watches game against Baltimore Orioles from dugout at Yankee Stadium.

USA Today Sports Images

Categories: 

By WFAN.com

After a positive stretch in which the Yankees were able to cut into the Red Sox's lead in the American League East following a four-game sweep of the Orioles, the Yankees lost two out of three to the lowly White Sox. New York now finds itself 7.5 games behind Boston in the division, but still holds a 4.5 game lead for the AL's top Wild Card spot.

There's no denying the Yankees lineup has been decimated with injuries, but it hasn't helped that reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton has fallen into quite a slump.

Over the last eight games, Stanton is just 3-for-29 with 13 strikeouts, lowering his average from .286 to .275.

With just a month remaining in the regular season, the Yankees could really use another hot streak from its slugging outfielder, who has hit just two home runs since August 12.

While Stanton may be struggling during quite an important stretch of the season, Yankees manager Aaron Boone is not concerned about the 28-year-old outfielder, who has already hit 32 home runs and 82 RBI on the year.

>>MORE: Florial, Alonso Among Yankees, Mets Prospects Playing In Arizona Fall League

"Look, the ebb and flow of a 162-game season with hitting, where the best guys get on 35-40 percent of the time, the inevitability is you're going to have weeks where you're not great, where you go through a little bit of a funk," Boone told Carlin, Maggie, and Bart. "I think that's happened to him a little bit here in the last week or 10 days. But if look at last night's game, two balls that he absolutely scorched for outs, he worked a walk...

"The results haven't necessarily been great over the last week or 10 days, but I feel like he's a lot closer to the guy we've seen for the last couple months."

When Stanton was acquired during the offseason, the plan was to pair him and Aaron Judge together to form the league's deadliest power-hitting duo. While the two have combined for 58 home runs, Judge has not appeared in a game since being hit in the wrist with a pitch on July 26. 

Judge was enjoying a strong season prior to the injury. In 99 games, the 26-year-old was hitting .285/.398/.548 with 26 home runs, 61 RBI and 70 runs scored. 

The Yankees originally predicted Judge would be sidelined for three to five weeks. While the outfielder's recovery has gone a lot slower than expected, Boone is confident he will get his other outfielder slugger back in the lineup at some point this season.

>>MORE: Keidel: Yankees Prove Many Wrong By Climbing Back Into AL East Race

"Today is the five-week mark. He is making progress, he's not swinging a bat yet though," the manager said Thursday. "He was out playing longer catch today. The one good thing through all of this is he has been able to do all of his upper body and lower body working out, running bases. So condition-wise and physically, he's in good shape.

"It's just when that pain is alleviated and he can swing a bat, that's when it kind of takes off. But he extended the playing catch today, doing all of his drills as he tries to get closer and to that point where he can pick up a bat. But it's gone a little bit slower than we anticipated, but we do feel like he's building a little momentum and definitely getting better."

While Judge may still be a ways away from returning to the Yankees lineup, the same cannot be said for catcher Gary Sanchez.

Sanchez has been out since he reaggravated a groin injury on July 23. It was only his third game back from the disabled list after missing nearly a month due to the initial injury.

The 25-year-old began a minor league rehab assignment several days ago, making spending time as both a designated hitter and behind the plate. He caught nine innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Wednesday, and the plan is for him to do the same Thursday, after which he will join the team in New York and be activated from the DL on Saturday.

Sanchez has struggled in 2018, hitting a mere .188 with 14 home runs and 42 RBI in 66 games. Nevertheless, Boone and the Yankees are excited about the return of their starting catcher.

"Gary is playing his last rehab game today," Boone told WFAN Thursday evening. "He caught nine innings yesterday, he'll catch nine innings today. If all goes well tonight, he'll come here tomorrow. He'll be off tomorrow, get his workout in, and hopefully be in the lineup potentially Saturday for us."

Sanchez was not the only Yankees starter that received some good news regarding his recovery.

Shortstop Didi Gregorius has been on the DL since August 18 with a bruised heel. While it is unclear when exactly the starting shortstop will return to the team, Boone thinks the team will get its starting shortstop back sooner rather than later.

"Today's a light day for him," Boone said about the 28-year-old shorstop. "He worked out pretty heavily yesterday and the last two days kind of ramping him up where he got back on the field, was taking ground balls, took batting practice, started some form running, and today was a scheduled kind of light day, treatment day. 

"He's moving in the right direction, but not quite sure when it will be yet. I don't think it's going to be too much longer. But he's not there where we're deciding exactly when he'll be back yet.

The Yankees begin a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers in the Bronx Thursday.