Posted on April 21, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine

New York Yankees Aaron Judge
Image via newsday.com

The injury news only seems to be getting worse and worse for the New York Yankees. On Sunday, the team added outfielder Aaron Judge to the Injured List with a strained oblique. He becomes the 13th member of the team who’s currently on the IL and arguably the most significan.

Judge exited in the 6th inning of Saturday’s win over the Royals after suffering a left oblique injury. As soon as he started running to first base after hitting a single, Judge felt discomfort in his oblique. He was removed from the game right away. Yankees manager Aaron Boone did not give a timetable for Judge’s return.

“Pretty significant strain in there,” Boone explained. “These next couple of weeks will kind of be a lot of just the healing process, so I think once we get through these first couple of weeks, then we’ll have a better timeline.”

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Over the first few weeks of the season, Judge has arguably been the team’s most important offensive player. He’s currently hitting .288 with an OPS of .925. Only Gary Sanchez, who’s currently on the DL, and Clint Frazier have a higher OPS than Judge on the injury-riddled Yankees. As the team’s no. 2 hitter, the Yankees will surely feel the loss of Judge on a daily basis.

“What he brings on a daily basis, not just offensively with his bat and his ability to get on base at such a high level, but his defense and energy and enthusiasm, makes everyone around him better,” said Boone. “He’ll still be around and still find ways to do that, but obviously, we might be without him for a bit.”

The Yankees are particularly hurting in the outfield. In addition to Judge, both Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton are on the IL. Jacoby Ellsbury remains sidelined as well after not playing at all last season. The Yankees are now left with Brett Gardner and Frazier as everyday outfielders. Meanwhile, Mike Tauchman and Tyler Wade will be asked to fill Judge’s spot in right field for the time being.

If there’s been a silver lining for the Yankees amidst all of their injuries, it could be Frazier. The 24-year-old is finally getting a chance to play regularly and is taking full advantage, hitting .351 with an OPS of 1.020. However, Wade isn’t producing much offensively while both Gardner and Tauchman are hitting for a poor average despite providing some power. That leaves a giant Judge-sized hole in the New York outfield.

Fortunately, the Yankees are expecting some of their injured players to slowly but surely work their way back to full health over the next week or two. However, the club is still just treading water until players start to return. Losing Judge is yet another step in the wrong direction for a team that entered Sunday 10-10 on the season. With Judge joining the walking wounded on the IL, it’ll be that much more difficult for the Yankees to endure the early part of the season, even if the manager continues to stay optimistic.

“I truly feel like it’s just going to make it that much sweeter, having gone through all of this,” says Boone. “We have a resilient group in there, we’re getting plenty of good news with players continuing to make progress as they work their way back, and we’ll find our way through this.”

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