NEW YORK – Aaron Judge has taken the next step in his rehabilitation process after injuring his toe a month ago in Los Angeles. Judge told reporters Tuesday morning that he began practicing light hitting, including hitting a tee and throwing some soft throws into the cage.
He started last week with the team in Auckland and is slowly leveling himself up to return later this season. The timeline for when Judge will return remains unclear because he is nowhere near 100 percent healthy.
Judge said of the biggest factors for his potential comeback besides sprinting is my ability to put 270 pounds on one leg when I hit. “Once we build that strength and get the pain out of there, we’ll be in a good place. I kind of understand you’re going to deal with some pain that comes back, so it’s just about getting to a point where it’s okay and we don’t bring ourselves back here.”
Judge said he expects he will deal with some level of pain in his toe for the rest of the season. Surgery is now ruled out as it would shut him out for the season.
“We’re not doing that this year,” the judge said.
Yankees coach Aaron Boone added, “When it’s right and when he’s able to go, he’ll be able to go forward and he’s confident he’ll be able to do it at the level we’re used to seeing him.” “I feel like he’s making really good progress on that. But from a time point of view, it’s going to take as long as he needs him to where he can go out there and be Aaron Judge at full effort.”
The reigning MLS MVP has not ruled out that he may have surgery in the off-season, but there is still some time to determine that at a later time. When the judge returns, he expects to play with a special sole in his right cleat to prevent his toe from being bent. The last time Judge spoke to reporters in New York, he mentioned how he was still in pain when he walked. It got better, but “it still isn’t good,” according to Judge, and “I don’t think it’s ever going to be normal.”
This last comment was notable and when asked what he meant by it, the judge mentioned how he still felt some pain in his pinky finger even though he took it off two years ago. The pain from some of his other injuries still crept in from time to time.
“The most important thing is that we want him to do things he can handle without causing too much pain,” Boone said. “Right now, the last few days I know he’s been hitting the tee and it’s been going really well. He’s obviously not all full but I think it’s probably been a week or so since he started showing me a little bit like how he can get up on the “Back him a little bit and rotate that a little bit. Those are the little steps that we’re seeing as he gets better and closer, but it’s going to depend on how he responds to everything in a way that he can tolerate things.”
As of now, the judge said the only thing that will speed up the recovery process is rest. The next step for Judge is to test his toe with running drills.
“If I can run, I can play but running 10 percent isn’t going to help anybody out there,” Judge said.
Judge said he’s still not sure whether or not he’ll travel to Seattle for next week’s All-Star Game festivities to participate in the pregame buildup. His schedule makes him nearly impossible to play in the game. But the Yankees are more interested in getting the Judge back as they continue to hold on to the wild card race. Knowing the judge has shown the ability to play through various injuries in the past makes Bonne optimistic their superstar will be able to do the same when he returns to the lineup.
“I think over the last couple of years he’s gotten really good at playing with things, whatever they are,” Boone said. “I feel like he’s done a really good job of understanding how to control things and how to play through certain things that not everybody can do. He’s shown that ability. I think one of the biggest things in his development is how I can post every day when I’m a little bit rambunctious. He knows How he does it at a very high level.”
(Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
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