Aaron Judge has become the third key Yankee to be shut down with an injury that initially was suffered last season.
Following a battery of medical tests to determine the source of the mysterious pain that has hampered the pinstriped slugger throughout spring training, Judge finally was diagnosed with a stress fracture of his first right rib, with Aaron Boone adding that he “wouldn’t say that (surgery is) off the table.”
Judge, who has been limited by injuries to 214 games the past two seasons following his breakout rookie campaign in 2017, will rest for two weeks before a determination will be made on surgery. Boone added the Yankees and the team’s new medical staff believe the injury first occurred when Judge made a diving catch in right field in September.
“It’s a tough diagnosis to find. So that’s what we’re dealing with. It’s probably an injury that dates back to September when he dove,” Boone told reporters Friday in Tampa. “Signs are that it shows signs of healing. So we’re going to give it the next couple of weeks and then we’ll retest to see how much healing is going on with that rib.”
Starting pitchers James Paxton and Luis Severino also were shut down in February with injuries they first reported in 2019.
Paxton underwent a microscopic lumbar surgery to remove a peridiscal cyst and repair a herniated disc in his back on Feb. 5. The surgery comes with a recovery period of three to four months, meaning the lefty could be sidelined through the end of May.
Severino will miss the 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on Feb. 27; he also had an existing bone chip remove from his right elbow. The two-time All-Star reported discomfort in his right forearm following a Game 3 start during the ALCS last October against Houston. He would have been on the mound if the Yankees had forced a seventh game against the Astros, but he continued to experience discomfort during the offseason and at the start of spring training, particularly when throwing his changeup.
Designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton also is expected to miss Opening Day with a strained right calf after appearing in just 18 games in 2019 due to a litany of injuries, while center fielder Aaron Hicks underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on Oct. 31 and is not expected back until some point this summer.
The Yankees overhauled their training and conditioning staff over the winter after 30 players (over 39 stints) spent time on the injured list. Eric Cressey was installed as the Director of Player Health and Performance, while longtime athletic trainer Steve Donohue was transitioned to an emeritus role.