Yankees general manager Brian Cashman met with reporters at spring training today and announced that both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are unlikely to return to the lineup by Opening Day. Judge has been dealing with a sore pectoral muscle, while Stanton sustained a Grade 1 right calf strain.
This was confirmation of something that seemed increasingly likely in recent days. The season begins in just over three weeks, leaving the star outfielders with limited time to recover and shake off rust before the beginning of the season. Cashman explained “Right now, more likely than not I don’t see him being ready for Opening Day because of the time frame: 3.5 weeks... Obviously with 3.5 weeks to Opening Day, we would rather be safe than sorry.”
Cashman indicated over the weekend that he felt optimistic about Judge and Stanton and that their respective injuries shouldn’t be long-term concerns. Both could still theoretically miss minimal time if their recoveries go smoothly.
Focus will soon shift to the team’s internal potential replacements, of which there are several. This appears to be Clint Frazier’s latest chance to establish himself as a starting-caliber player, and Miguel Andujar should also figure in the outfield mix. Perhaps Rosell Herrera, a non-roster invitee whose in the midst of an excellent spring training, could sneak his way onto the depth chart. Mike Tauchman will presumably start ahead of all of them, along with Brett Gardner.
Once Judge and Stanton return, the Yankees could see a bit of a logjam in the outfield. That, however, is a concern for another day, and one the Yankees would certainly welcome. For now, the team has three high-caliber outfielders, including Aaron Hicks, on the shelf. 2020 is feeling more like 2019 with each passing day.