NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge was reinstated from the injured list by the New York Yankees and the record-setting slugger was back in the lineup Tuesday night against the Oakland Athletics.
The reigning AL MVP hadn’t played since April 27 because of a right hip strain. He was batting .261 with six home runs, 14 RBIs and an .863 OPS in 26 games during his first season as Yankees captain.
“To get one of the game’s great players back in your lineup and our leader, and all that he brings between the lines and outside, excited obviously to get him back,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said with a broad smile.
New York (19-17) went 4-6 without Judge, averaging just 3.5 runs per game despite scoring seven in each of the past two. He becomes the second regular in a week to rejoin the injury-riddled Yankees; fellow outfielder Harrison Bader has been on a tear at the plate since coming back from a strained left oblique muscle and making his season debut May 2 versus Cleveland.
“As we get (Judge) back and others, as we’ve seen with Harrison, then you start adding length to the lineup and just making it overall more challenging,” Boone said.
Designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton (left hamstring strain) and third baseman Josh Donaldson (right hamstring strain) remain on the IL, along with several key pitchers including Luis Severino and Carlos Rodón.
New York began the day last in the highly competitive AL East, 10 games behind first-place Tampa Bay.
To make room for Judge on the active roster, the Yankees optioned left-hander Nick Ramirez to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre following Monday night’s series opener against Oakland. The move came soon after Ramirez threw 35 pitches over two scoreless innings to close out a 7-2 victory.
New York also placed infielder Oswald Peraza on the 10-day injured list with a right ankle sprain, a move retroactive to Saturday, and recalled right-hander Greg Weissert from the RailRiders.
Judge said he won’t have any restrictions upon his return but he’ll try to avoid headfirst slides. The 6-foot-7 slugger got hurt on his 31st birthday April 26 in Minnesota when he landed hard while making an awkward headfirst slide attempting to steal third base.
He remained in the game and started the next day at Texas, then left in the fourth inning after striking out twice. Days later, he was placed on the injured list for the seventh time since making his major league debut in 2016.
Judge worked out last weekend at the Yankees’ minor league complex in Tampa, Florida, about 30 minutes from where New York was playing the Rays.
“Full bore. We’ll every day check with him, obviously, and I’ll make sure how he’s doing and stuff,” Boone said. “But no, I’m not looking at him as having any restrictions.”
Judge hit 62 home runs last season to break the American League record held by Roger Maris since 1961. The four-time All-Star batted .311 with 131 RBIs, tying Mets slugger Pete Alonso for most in the majors.
Judge became a free agent in November before re-signing with the Yankees for $360 million over nine years.
Rodón received an injection for his ailing back and the team hopes he’ll begin throwing again this weekend.