TAMPA, Fla. – New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge has a broken rib and it's not clear whether he will need surgery, leaving doubt when he'll be back in the lineup.
Manager Aaron Boone said he thought the star right fielder hurt himself making a diving catch late last season.
“Frustrated, especially with an injury that happened at the end of last year and still didn't heal up,” Judge said. “At least we have an answer, so now we can start working on a solution. Overall, I'm just mad. I want to be out there with my team, especially in spring training. We've got a good team here, a good club. and we've got a lot of goals here in 2020.”
Judge will rest two weeks while recovering from the stress fracture to his first right rib. He hasn't played in any spring training games while dealing with soreness in his right pectoral muscle and shoulder and has no timeline for a return.
“I want to be out there. but the first thing is you've got to this healed, get this right and then you can move forward,” Judge said. “The biggest thing is, I want the pain to go away and get this healed up.”
Judge underwent about a dozen tests, including and MRI plus CT and bone scans, to determine the source of his pain.
“It shows signs of healing, so we're going to give it the next couple weeks and re-test to show how much healing is going on with that rib," Boone said.
Removal of the bone is a possibility, depending on the healing process.
“I wouldn't say that's off the table, but you wouldn't want to go do that right now, especially if the bone is healing," Boone said.
Judge hopes to avoid surgery.
“The fact that the bone is healing, progressing that way, there's really no need to go down that route,” Judge said. “If it wasn't healing, wasn't going the way we wanted it to go then, yeah, that's a possibility.”
Judge was able to do all his normal workouts during the offseason but experienced discomfort after arriving in Florida for early workouts and then ramping up his hitting.
“It was to a point where he needed to start getting some answers,” Boone said. “Now we have some answers and a plan of attack in place. Hopefully, it is a situation where it is healing and it won't be something that ends up being too long.”
Since winning the 2017 AL Rookie of the Year award, Judge has been limited to 112 games in 2018 because of a broken right wrist and to 102 games last year due to a strained left oblique.
“To finally get an answer was good and bad,” Judge said. “I didn't like hearing that I had a fracture in my rib, but to know what it is and we can move forward is kind of a relief.”
Two other Yankees outfielders already were sidelined. Giancarlo Stanton strained his right calf on Feb. 26 during defensive drills and will miss opening day on March 26. Center fielder Aaron Hicks had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on Oct. 31 and is not expected back until summer.
Stanton has been doing conditioning work indoors.
“I would say it's going, seems like, pretty well,” Boone said. “But we're still only nine, 10 days out from when it happened. He has been able to ramp us his intensity here consistently. Those are all good signs.”
New York also starts the season without three of its top five starting pitchers. Right-hander Luis Severino will missing the season following Tommy John surgery on Feb. 27; left-hander James Paxton is likely out until late May or June following surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back and to remove a cyst; and right-hander Domingo Germán must serve the final 63 games of an 81-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy. He is eligible to return June 5, barring any postponements.
Paxton could begin a throwing program within the next week.