First Impressions: Aaron Judge

Like a majority of his teammates, Aaron Judge spent a good portion of the 2019 regular season on the Injured List.  An oblique injury early in the season left him on the I.L. from April through the end of June.

Photo credit: Shore News Network

The oblique injury was a big blow for the Yanks considering the sheer volume of players they sent to the Injured List in 2019 (#NextManUp anyone?); however, it also came on the heels of Judge missing time from July to September of the 2018 season due to a broken wrist.  Needless to say, the Yankees and fans alike saw one advantage to the delay in the opening of the 2020 season: Judge could recover from his broken rib which he suffered at some point during the 2019 season and which hampered him through Spring Training.  Judge was finally able to return to play last month, making his first Summer Camp appearance in late June.

But the Yankees and their fans waited with baited breath earlier this month, as Judge was once again sidelined with an apparent neck injury on July 11th.  Considering his history with injuries, it is easy to understand why the thoughts of “Here Comes the Injured Judge, Again” would be among the first impressions of Judge in the shortened 2020 season.

However, Judge did what Judge does, making his return to Summer Camp in the exhibition series against the Mets over the weekend of July 18th and 19th.  While the neck injury was not expected to keep him on the bench for more than a few days, any time fans get to 'All Rise' (even in our living rooms) marks a positive sign of things to come. 

“Belting two homers on Sunday night [July 19], Aaron Judge showed Yankees Universe a little more of what he’s been saying all along: he’ll be ready to roll for Thursday night’s season opener,” reported.

In case the exhibition game homers weren’t enough for fans to renew their faith and rise for the Judge, he recorded the first hit of the 2020 MLB season -- with a single to left field in the top of the first, in the shortened season opener in Washington.  In spite of the fact that Judge didn't provide much of a showing in the next two games of the series in Washington (0-for-5, 2K s and 0-for-4, 1K, respectively), the signs are positive enough from those exhibition games and the series opener.

As we’d say in April during a 162-game season, it is “only” the first week of the season; however, it is more than encouraging to see Judge return to form.  His history does suggest that he is an injury-prone player, and it is easy to fall prey to keeping hopes low and expect injuries -- especially in a 60-game season, in which an injury could result in Judge’s sidelining for the season’s (and, potential postseason’s) entirety.  What with the announcement of extending the MLB postseason to 16 teams and adding games, all of the Yankees will need to stay healthy for as long as possible. 

On the flip side, one of the advantages of a shortened season is that there is less time to become injured.  There is no time for a “slow start.”  Judge is not off to a slow start, and is not nursing injuries.  Anything can happen, but chances are if that’s his status today, that will still be his status after only 59 more games.  In addition, Judge is reportedly using the Yanks’ 2019 postseason “failure” as fuel for his game going forward.  And so, the verdict is in: Judge is poised for a banner year in 2020.

Article by: Mary Grace Donaldson


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