Yankees 'very optimistic' Aaron Judge will return 'with plenty of time'

ByColey Harvey ESPN logo
Friday, August 31, 2018

NEW YORK -- Despite the New York Yankees' acquisition Friday of veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen, manager Aaron Boone contends injured superstar Aaron Judge remains on track to return from a chip fracture of the right wrist before the end of the regular season.

"We're still very optimistic that Aaron -- it's obviously taken a little longer than we originally thought -- but the plan is, and the belief is, that he'll be back," Boone said. "When that is, we're not quite sure, but he'll be back hopefully with plenty of time as we go down the stretch."

Judge broke the ulnar styloid bone in his right wrist July 26 when he was hit by a 94-mph pitch. Initially, the Yankees said he would miss approximately three weeks.

More than five weeks later, Judge has yet to swing a bat as he continues to recover from the injury.

Still, the Yankees "believe Aaron absolutely will be back," Boone added.

Part of what has made Judge's recovery progress so slow is the fact that his wrist is still partially broken and he hasn't been able to use it with full range of motion without feeling pain. Once the pain fully subsides, he will be able to swing again. At that point, the team believes, it won't take long for him to return.

Earlier this week, Judge said that while the pain in his wrist needs to completely fade, he still could come back before the bone is fully healed.

"What I've heard is you can play with it, because I don't need surgery. I don't need anything like that," Judge said. "I can play with it before it actually fully heals. It's just getting that pain down to zero."

If the pain was about a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10 two weeks ago, Judge said Tuesday, it's gone down to about a 4.

"It's kind of working its way down. We're just trying to get to zero so we can move forward," Judge said. "I'll wake up one of these days and feel good. Just waiting for that day."

The Yankees also are anxiously waiting for Saturday morning, when McCutchen will arrive in the Bronx to don pinstripes for the first time. Boone hopes to put the new outfielder into the starting lineup against theTigers.

"This is something that really helps us in the here and now," Boone said. "And even when Aaron comes back, it's another really good player to give us options to match up things how we want to. It's just another really good player in the fold."

McCutchen, who will be a regular starter until Judge returns, batted .255 with 15 home runs this season for the San Francisco Giants. The longtime Pittsburgh Pirates star has spent his entire career in the National League, where he won the MVP in 2013.

"I saw him for the three years that we played in September pushes, and he elevated his game to the next level," said Yankees infielder Neil Walker, who played with McCutchen in Pittsburgh. "You saw him be the player that he's capable of being. When the spotlight's on him, that's when I expect him at his best."