Aaron Judge was back in the lineup Wednesday night after playing in just one game since Aug. 11 because of a strained right calf that put him on the injured list twice. It was the second straight day that the Yankees got key players back from the injured list.
This time the Yankees are hopeful that the team will be whole for the rest of the season.
“I believe they’re healthy, and so I’m excited about that,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I think part of the reason we’re going lightly is because they didn’t really have a big rehab process, as far as going down and playing a number of games ... in Giancarlo’s case obviously it was a pretty long layoff. So we kind of decided that, ‘Hey, let’s build them up here, and we’ll do it a little more conservatively here, as opposed to keep them down there for an extra three or four days and then they kind of roll right into regular games here.’ So we decided to go this way and hopefully this pays off for them and for us.”
The Yankees are banking that their new strength and conditioning program, which is headed by celebrity baseball trainer Eric Creesey. They overhauled the department after a record number of injuries in 2019.
Stanton, who played just 18 regular-season games in 2019 because of numerous injuries, played Tuesday night for the first time in 32 games and then had a scheduled off day Wednesday night to slowly bring him back up to speed. The end goal is the playoffs in 13 days.
Stanton said that coming off this injury, he has a new approach: not only preparing for games, but staying loose and ready to try and keep him on the field.
“We have a new warmup, new mid-game routine, if certain things happen in the game. Like if, I’m the DH and then I don’t run the bases for two at-bats, that’s an hour and a half of no movement. So you gotta do more in between at-bats and stuff like that,” Stanton said. “So which is obvious and what has been done, but we’ve gotta switch it up.”
So far, in 2020, the Yankees have suffered similar issues with injuries. GM Brian Cashman explained this was not unexpected, since teams that had tried the same overhaul went through similar injuries during the first year transition.
But in a coronavirus pandemic-shortened, 60-game MLB season, the impact of even one injury is greater. While Judge was out the last 21 games (after missing nine earlier games with the same injury) the Yankees went on a slide that had them bottom out last week at .500.
That makes the rehab process even harder, Stanton said.
“That doesn’t help for sure. I’m seeing the guys grinding out there,” Stanton said. “But it’s one of those things where you still gotta be smart and can’t rush back. But you do want to be back more than ever. So it’s just good. Good to be back now and to help contribute.”
AN ABUNDANCE OF CAUTION
Gleyber Torres was out of the Yankees' starting lineup for the second straight game as the Yankees manage his return from leg injuries. The shortstop had missed 13 games on the IL with a strained quad and hamstring, returning Sept. 5.
Boone said that he expects this to be the last day that Torres is not in the starting lineup.
“Gleyber’s good... one more day is best here just to be safe,” Boone said. “He really wanted in there today, he really wanted in there yesterday as well, but really today and I just felt like kind of consulting with the training staff and everything just one more day is best to make sure this doesn’t become an issue for us. Obviously, like many of our guys he’s not somebody that we feel like we can afford to lose heading into the postseason.”
Boone described the issue Torres is going through as “tightness.”
James Paxton is seemingly done for the 2020 season. The lefthander had been shut down from rehab of a strained flexor in his left forearm a week ago. Wednesday, and in a sign they don’t expect him back, the Yankees moved him to the 45-day injured list to make room for catcher Wynston Sawyer on the 40-man roster. They signed him to a Major League contract and sent him to the alternate training site.
The 31-year-old Paxton will be a free agent after this season. In five starts, he was 1-1 with a 6.64 ERA.
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