The New York Yankees are still waiting for right-fielding slugger Aaron Judge to return to the lineup.
It’s adding further worries to an already tense time as the team is attempting to hold off the Oakland Athletics for the top spot in the American League Wild Card race.
Judge, one of his team’s most complete hitters, has been shelved since Jul. 27 after suffering a chip fracture in his right wrist when he was hit by a pitch.
Originally, the Yankees expected a quick return as they placed him on the 10-day disabled list.
Not only has he not returned but manager Aaron Boone still can’t give a definitive answer on when his team can expect the 26-year-old back with the big club.
“We have a little bit of an idea of a timeline,” Boone admitted on Tuesday before the Yankees’ 10-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins, shrinking their advantage in the AL Wild Card race to just two games over the Athletics.
He’s running out of time to give the answer Yankees fans are looking considering there is a little over two weeks left in the regular season. With the postseason picture looking so tight with this little time remaining, New York needs to have its best bat back as quickly as possible.
Even with a six-week absence, Judge has still compiled 26 home runs and 61 RBI with a solid .285 average. That kind of production would be savior-like for a Yankees squad that has been a mediocre 7-7 in their last 14 games.
What will the Yankees get when Aaron Judge returns?
However, an absence this long creates questions on what kind of Judge the Yankees will get back for the final games of the 2018 regular season. It’s something Boone called “the great unknown.”
After all, Judge just started taking live batting practice outdoors for the first time on Monday
He has never missed this much time swinging a bat since his electrifying rookie campaign in 2017. Last year saw him miss six games before he sat just two in the Yankees’ first 101 games in 2018.
A rusty Judge will only add more problems to an inconsistent Yankees team down the stretch, which is the last thing they need with a one-game playoff against the Athletics looming in October.
Judge’s return and production though might dictate whether that game is played in New York or Oakland.