BALTIMORE — And on the third day, Aaron Judge rested.
As tempting as it was to keep Judge in the Yankees lineup Sunday for a third straight game since coming off the injured list, manager Aaron Boone and the team stuck to their plan and opted for prudence as they built up Judge’s workload properly.
“Not that difficult a decision,” Boone said before the Yankees finished their series against the Orioles at Camden Yards.
“Difficult to not have him in there. You don’t like that part of it. But the decision, feel like we kind of had to do it.
“I think it’s important to know, he didn’t have a rehab assignment. Part of him coming back [when he did] was these were going to be, in essence, his rehab games for us. And we’ve gotten the benefit of Aaron Judge in the last two days when maybe normally that would have been done in [Double-A] Somerset or somewhere else.”
The Yankees are in a crucial stretch of 13 games in 13 days, the first 10 of which are against three teams they are chasing in the playoff race in the Orioles, Rays and Astros.
Boone said on Sunday he hopes to have Judge in the lineup for 10 of those games.
Judge has said that he wants to be in the lineup for every game, but understood why the Yankees were planning to build in off days, even if he wasn’t thrilled about it.
The reigning AL MVP has come back with a bang, going 3-for-6 with a home run and three walks in his first two games while starting at DH and right field.
Boone indicated that the decision on Judge was not his alone, with the Yankees’ medical staff also having a say in what his buildup looks like.
After Boone revealed that Judge would be available off the bench for Sunday’s game, he was asked why the Yankees would not just have him DH.
“I would say your premise there would suggest they’re the same. I would disagree with that, I think we would disagree with that,” Boone said. “Getting ready to play a major league game right now and going through all your pregame [routine] to be prepared at seven o’clock, you would hope the baserunning that follows that. While it’s not playing right field, it is still playing. Again, we’re talking about him not being 100 percent with the toe. But just as much as that, he just hasn’t worked up a lot of volume of stuff.
“Especially when you’re dealing with trying to protect the toe, then you start worrying about the soft-tissue stuff – the calves, the [hamstrings] and the things that can come into play. I think we gotta be smart in that regard, especially through a stretch of 13 in a row right now.”
Jonathan Loaisiga (elbow surgery) began a rehab assignment on Sunday with Low-A Tampa, tossing two perfect innings with two strikeouts on 18 pitches.
The reliever is expected to need at least two or three more rehab outings before rejoining the Yankees.
“I’m excited about Lo,” Boone said. “He seems to be in a really good spot and obviously looking forward to getting him back. We know the impact he can have at the back of our pen.”
Nestor Cortes’ next and possibly last rehab start is scheduled for Wednesday, likely with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
DJ LeMahieu was out of the lineup Sunday but Boone said he was OK physically.
Greg Allen will start in left field on Sunday, his first start since coming off the IL last week.
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