LAKELAND, Fla. — Since Aaron Judge has undergone more tests than taking batting practice cuts outdoors, Monday carries big weight in Yankees camp.
That’s when Judge will have his right shoulder/pectoral muscle tested in what has evolved into a longer-than-expected search for the reason Judge has experienced discomfort in the area since before position players participated in the first full-squad workout on Feb. 18.
Boone said Judge was “doing better’’ Sunday morning when he had a little more energy, but the fact Judge hasn’t taking batting practice outdoors 24 days away from Opening Day is a cause for concern.
According to Boone, Judge underwent an MRI exam Saturday and will have more tests Monday, though the manager said Sunday he wasn’t sure what type of test will be administered.
Originally, the Yankees described the problem as the right shoulder. Boone brought up the pec area on Saturday and repeated it Sunday prior to the Yankees’ 10-4 loss to the Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium.
“Where is it coming from, what’s generating that?’’ Boone said of what the tests are looking to unearth.
Not so encouraging was Boone revealing what Judge is experiencing is a similar sensation when he was shut down while working out at the minor league complex before full-squad workouts began.
“He was down here a couple of weeks early working and kind of going through everything and getting that discomfort and that is where it returned when he started ramping up the last few days,’’ Boone said. “A lot of treatment. A lot of eyes and hands on him trying to get to the bottom and free him up a little bit. We will see.
“It is frustrating that we haven’t pin-pointed exactly what it is and what caused the discomfort. But I would say I feel a little bit more optimistic.’’
Since Judge’s MRI on Saturday was negative, the next step could be a dye-contrast MRI, which is the same test that discovered Luis Severino’s partial tear of the UCL in his right elbow that led to season-ending Tommy John surgery on Feb. 27. Like Judge, Severino’s MRIs were negative, as was a CT scan.
With center fielder Aaron Hicks out until June or July following Tommy John surgery last October, and Giancarlo Stanton nursing a strained right calf that could land him on the IL for the start of the season, the Yankees could field an outfield of Mike Tauchman in right, Brett Gardner in center and Clint Frazier in left.
That is a long way from Judge in right, Gardner in center and Stanton in left.
Boone ticked off Gardner, Frazier, Tauchman when the Yankees’ depth was mentioned, and non-roster invite utility man Rosell Herrera and Miguel Andujar.
“Herrera has opened some eyes and obviously. Miggy is playing out there more, so we are equipped to handle whatever is thrown at us or whatever we got to deal with,’’ Boone said. “That said, I am also very optimistic about Aaron and Giancarlo not being a long-term thing. With Hicks, that is more of a middle of the season-type thing.’’
Herrera, a 27-year-old switch-hitter, has a career average of .225 (86-for-383) in 149 big league games for the Reds, Royals and Marlins. Last season he batted .200 (21-for-119) in 63 games for the Marlins. He went 3-for-3 Sunday and is 7-for-14 (.500) this spring.
In an effort to find at-bats for Andujar, if he doesn’t unseat Gio Urshela at third, the Yankees are playing him in left field and he will likely get a chance at first base this week.
Because the Yankees used the IL a whopping 39 times a year ago injuries this spring have dominated the tenor of the camp.
“What happened last year the flames get a little fanned, I believe,’’ Boone said.
James Paxton, Severino and Stanton have ignited those flames in February. If Judge isn’t ready for Opening Day, those flames will grow bigger and brighter.