Aaron Judge still isn’t swinging a bat in his Yankees rehab
Marcus Thames has been able to work with a handful of players who stayed in Tampa during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Yankees hitting coach is still waiting for Aaron Judge to be healthy.
“It’s been tough,’’ Thames said on YES Network of Judge not being able to swing as he recovers from the fractured rib that sidelined him this spring.
While teammates such as Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu take batting practice and hit in the cage, Judge is still unable to join them.
“He walks by the cage and helps guys pick up balls,’’ Thames said. “He really wants to get going. [We’re] just trying to stay safe. When the doctors let him, [we’ll] turn him loose. He’ll be ready. He’s chomping at the bit to get out there and start working hard on his swing.”
Judge likely suffered the rib injury — along with a punctured lung — on a diving play last September, but it wasn’t diagnosed until this spring.
Last week, general manager Brian Cashman called it a “very unique injury” and one that is “extremely challenging to diagnose,” which helps explain why it took the Yankees so long to determine exactly what was wrong with the right fielder when he experienced pain near his shoulder throughout the spring.
Because of the nature of the injury, Cashman said he had expected Judge to be out until the summer even before the sport was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic in March.
Several CT scans have shown evidence of improvement, which is good news, since Judge and the Yankees are hoping to avoid surgery, which could include removing the rib.
Meanwhile, Stanton, fully healed from the calf strain that bothered him during the spring, has “been looking good,’’ according to Thames.
“His swing is where it needs to be,’’ Thames said. “He’s been hitting off the machine and hitting BP on the field. He’s a pro. He gets his work done. He’s ready to go and I think his teammates are excited by that.’’
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But the situation in Tampa remains far from normal, even with the possibility of a resumption of spring training, as MLB and the Players Association try to reach an agreement. Thames said they are listening to health officials and keeping their distance when at the facility several times a week.
“It’s different,’’ Thames said of the atmosphere at George M. Steinbrenner Field. “It’s weird not having all the guys here. [Aaron] Boone is back home with his family. We try to play music and keep it loose as possible and stay positive. Guys are really hoping we get a chance to get back on the field.’’
If that happens, Thames is confident his hitters won’t need long to regain their form.
“Guys are trying to do as much as possible to make sure they’re ready to go if we get ready to go again,’’ Thames said.
The biggest challenge will be timing.
“Hitting is timing,’’ Thames said. “I think guys just have to get their timing back. Hopefully two or three weeks into it, we’ll be ready to go.’’
Now Thames is just waiting for the green light so he and the coaching staff can formulate a plan.
“We just don’t know what’s gonna happen,’’ Thames said. “We’re just hoping both sides can get together and we can get back out there and make sure everybody is safe. We miss it. That’s all we’ve done for a long time.’’
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