Yankees’ Aaron Judge won’t rule out Opening Day despite requiring further testing on shoulder, pec

Earlier this week, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman disclosed that he didn’t expect Aaron Judge to be in the Opening Day lineup due to concerns about his shoulder and pectoral muscle. Based on Judge’s comments on Thursday, he appears to be more optimistic than his boss about his chances of suiting up for Game No. 1. Alas, there is a catch.

Judge, who has been undergoing tests to determine what’s ailing him, still doesn’t have an answer. Instead, he said many of the tests have returned “clean,” per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, and that he’ll continue to be examined until doctors can find an answer. 

If and when Judge secures that answer, he’ll have less than three weeks to get ready for game action. According to his estimate, he still has time to make it back for Opening Day because he’ll need just 30 at-bats. Judge doesn’t have to get those in actual spring training contests, either. He could participate in the organizational complex games, where he could inflate his at-bat total by leading off every inning. It’s unclear if the Yankees consider that a legitimate option.

Judge has averaged 107 games over the last two seasons, missing significant time due to injury. When hearty and hale, he’s proven to be a top-flight hitter. He’ll enter the 2020 season with a career .273/.394/.558 (151 OPS+) batting line and with 110 home runs in 1,417 at-bats.

Judge is just one of the Yankees’ health-related concerns. Fellow outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is also expected to miss Opening Day, while James Paxton is out for at least a month and Luis Severino is done for the season following Tommy John surgery. The Yankees led baseball in days missed to injury in 2019, and it doesn’t appear their luck has changed so far this year, even after they spent the offseason restaffing their strength and conditioning units.

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