Are the Yankees risking Aaron Judge’s long-term health to win the season?

Aaron Judge signs autographs for Yankees fans at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 22, 2023.

Last Updated on September 24, 2023 at 11:00 am by Shelley Tamasi

The Yankees didn’t get knocked out of the playoff race on Saturday because their game against the Diamondbacks was postponed. This means that Aaron Judge won’t stop playing this season because of his sore toe.

The Yankees found a temporary reprieve from potential postseason elimination on Saturday due to the postponement of their game against the Diamondbacks. Consequently, the door remains open for Aaron Judge to continue his season at least until Sunday, despite the challenges posed by a nagging toe injury.

It’s very likely that he will play again on Sunday when they face the Diamondbacks or whenever the weather allows them to play. This is exciting for fans because it gives them a reason to keep watching Aaron Judge’s power show in the Bronx.

Aaron Judge: Yankees win vs. health concern

Even though Aaron Judge hit three home runs in a game on Friday, which was his second time doing that this season and in his career, manager Aaron Boone said that the team was focused on making sure the slugger stays healthy for the long term once their chances of making the playoffs are gone.

This means they care more about his well-being than any personal records he might aim for, like hitting 40 home runs, although he’s close to that mark with 35 home runs.

However, Boone also told that it’s crucial for Aaron Judge to continue playing and showing the way, as well as serving as a role model for the young players on the team. He conceded that the Yankees would keep an eye on both his well-being and the team’s well-being.

“I think it’s important for him right now to be playing and setting the tone [and] to set an example for the young guys we have up,’’ Boone said Friday night. “We’ll … try to keep his best interests and our best interests in mind.” 

This makes it clear that the Yankees are more interested in keeping him on the team and in no mood to shut him down to avoid any injury aggravation.

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone is with star slugger and captain Aaron Judge.
Bebeto Matthews/ AP

Before Aaron Judge injured his right big toe, he played 49 games and hit 19 home runs with a 1.078 OPS. After the injury, in the following 51 games, he hit 16 home runs and had an OPS of .943. Entering Friday, Aaron Judge had only managed to hit one home run in the last 17 games leading up to that point.

Judge admits not 100% fit but wants to continue playing

According to Aaron Judge, the Yankees are still in the playoff race, which is why he hasn’t decided to stop playing and it’s essential to be on the field and consistently show up every day.

The Yankees slugger explained that in baseball, it’s normal not to feel 100 percent healthy every day and mentioned that players often have minor injuries like bumps, bruises, and, in his case, toe issues.

“You’re not gonna feel 100 percent every single day,’’ Aaron Judge said. “Guys are gonna have bumps and bruises [and] toe stuff, I guess. If you’re at 60 percent, you’ve got to give 100 percent of 60 percent. If it’s 80 percent, it’s just about showing up every single day. That’s the grind of this game. The beauty of the game is we’re not playing 17 games or 82 games.”

He emphasized that baseball is a long season with 162 games and even on days when you don’t feel your best, it’s important to be there and contribute to the team and the city.

Boone and Aaron Judge’s teammates have noticed something special about his attitude. Gerrit Cole commented that when observing Aaron Judge’s performance last year, he achieved a lot of success. This year, even though he’s dealing with injuries, the Yankees captain is approaching the game with the same attitude and work ethic.

Yankees captain Aaron Judge with his bobblehead at Yankee Stadium.
NYY

But this is far from what anyone anticipated at the start of the season. Aaron Judge’s season, as well as the Yankees’ season, took an unexpected turn due to an injury he sustained when crashing into the outfield fence at Dodger Stadium in June. When the injury occurred, the Yankees had a record of 35 wins and 25 losses, but without their superstar, they faced a tough stretch, losing eight out of their first 12 games.

When Aaron Judge finally came back to play in late July, the Yankees had slipped to last place in the AL East standings.

According to Cole, Aaron Judge’s approach has a significant impact on the team and he inspires his teammates, especially the younger players and even the more experienced ones like Cole himself. The slugger is seen as a leader who demonstrates how to handle challenges and maintain a strong work ethic in the face of adversity.

Boone also agreed with Cole’s statement. The manager stated that one of the things he admires about Aaron Judge is that his emotions don’t show, no matter the situation. He highlighted how he maintains a neutral mindset, whether they’re experiencing success or facing challenging times.

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