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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 7/24/23

Judge faces game-speed pitches for the first time in weeks; Pettitte joins Yankees as advisor; Rizzo has first big game in months.

Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images | Bryan Hoch Aaron Judge took another step towards a return to action on Sunday, when he saw exactly 16 pitches from fellow rehabbing Yankee Jonathan Loáisiga in the form of live batting practice. It’s the first time in weeks he faced off against game-speed pitches.

Loáisiga had a plan for the session: pitch absolutely nothing inside. “He’s healing and trying to get back as soon as possible, and I’m a sinker pitcher, so I don’t want to make a mistake. Everything away,” Loáisiga said through an interpreter. “When you take into consideration how long he hasn’t seen live pitching in an environment like that, I think he looked really good, honestly.”

Judge did not appear to favor his injured right big toe and fouled off five pitches from Loáisiga. Manager Aaron Boone said Judge will keep participating in simulated situations but offered no timetable for his return.

NJ Advance Media | Bob Klapisch The Yankees continue to bring in reinforcements in the form of coaches and advisors. They have a lot at stake, and with that in mind, they are bringing in an old friend to help manager Aaron Boone in his decision-making process.

Just a few days after appointing Sean Casey as their hitting coach in Dillon Lawson’s place, the Yanks are giving Andy Pettitte, a staple from the dynasty days, a role as Boone’s advisor. Pettitte was in uniform and around the clubhouse over the weekend. There are reportedly no plans to replace pitching coach Matt Blake, but having Pettitte and his vast pitching knowledge around can’t possibly hurt.

NY Post | Peter Botte Anthony Rizzo, who was struggling badly since late May, finally had a breakout game on Sunday against the Royals, in which he went 4-for-4 with a double, a home run, three runs scored and two RBI. Since May 21st, the first baseman was hitting .182 with no homers and a .492 OPS. He got the silent treatment in the dugout as his teammates pranked him, but everything was joy afterwards.

One game (against the Royals, too) is not enough evidence that he is back, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. We don’t know if it was talking to Casey these days, or switching to Taylor Swift as his walk-up song — but whatever it was, it did the trick.