TAMPA — Aaron Judge’s numbers are scary, a career .952 OPS.
Here is the really frightening number: 110 games missed over the past two years due to injury.
And now, when a player is supposed to be at his healthiest, in spring training, Judge can’t get on the field for batting practice. Judge is dealing with a shoulder issue with pain migrating to the right pectoral area.
The Yankees offered no real answers on Tuesday, saying Judge is still going through tests. Judge was not available to the media, but in an interview with WFAN, Brian Cashman said, “I know he feels so much better [Monday] and [Tuesday], and optimistic.’’
Judge did move quickly through the clubhouse before the Yankees rolled to a 9-1 Steinbrenner Field clubbing of the Red Sox, who have their own injury issues with Chris Sale out.
Both Judge and Giancarlo Stanton will not be ready for Opening Day. That is reality.
The Yankees have not made it official, but basically that’s what Cashman said earlier Tuesday, noting of Judge, “I don’t see him ready by Opening Day.’’
If this injury lingers, it is time to wonder if Judge can stay healthy. His swing is violent and perhaps puts too much of a strain on certain parts of his body.
The last two regular seasons, Judge has played in 214 of a possible 324 games. Judge is the face of the Yankees — in many ways the face of baseball — yet to be that face, he must play. He must find a way to stay on the field.
The last thing Judge wants is to be is someone teammates can’t count on because of injury. Judge cares about team first. That’s the way he is wired. This has to be killing him.
When I asked Aaron Boone how Judge is handling this, the manager said, “He wants to play. I think these last few days have been him just kind of grinding through, getting a lot of treatment, doing a lot of work, working out still and going through all these tests and everything. So, it’s been busy, busy days for him as he just tries to get back and get answers.’’
The answers are not there yet. Judge did not participate in any baseball activities Tuesday, according to Boone.
Big guns sidelined is no way to go through spring training.
Stanton played only 18 games last year. The injuries came fast and furious and now it’s a calf injury. Two years ago Judge missed 50 games because of a fractured right wrist after being hit by a pitch. Stuff like that happens, but last year it was a left oblique injury that basically shaved 60 games off Judge’s season.
Now he is dealing with this swing-related shoulder/pec injury.
‘’He feels it more now in the pec,’’ Cashman said. ‘’It’s moved down toward the pec. We’re just trying to figure it out and determine what’s bothering him. In the meantime, I can just tell you he is feeling better in the last 48 hours.’’
Stanton, 30, strained his right calf Feb. 26 during defensive drills. That sounded a lot like last year when it was one thing after another for him.
Judge, who turns 28 next month, is in his prime. He is at his strongest. The timing of this could not be worse for the Yankees or Judge.
Sure it is only spring training, but spring training is when you set the tone for the season.
“There were years I felt great in spring and it came kind of quick,’’ Boone said of the value having a healthy spring training to work through things. “There were other times where it took all of spring training, kind of searching for it. Especially as a hitter, those are the things that kind of come and go a little bit. Then it’s building up, getting the reps of building up when you are playing nine innings back to back and getting your body used to handling that. That becomes the biggest challenge.’’
The challenge for Aaron Judge is not the opposing pitcher. He can handle that, but staying on the field to face those pitchers? That’s what this is all about now.