Rehab assignment, schmehab assignment.
After being on the IL since June 3rd, the New York Post is reporting that Aaron Judge will be activated ahead of Friday night’s contest in Baltimore against the Orioles. The Yankees’ captain has been working out at the club’s facilities in Tampa, taking simulated games against rehabbing pitchers and other organizational arms, but much like Bryce Harper in his UCL recovery earlier this year, Judge won’t play in a single minor league rehab game.
This is some of the best news of the entire team’s season, as the loss of arguably the game’s best hitter has exposed the deeper weaknesses plaguing the Yankee offense. Judge won’t be able to fix it all himself, but any time you can add an MVP-caliber bat to the lineup, you’re doing something right. Judge posted a .291/.404/.674 triple slash with 19 homers in just 49 games before enduring the mother of all stubbed toes on Dodger Stadium bullpen concrete, and the Yankees have collectively hit .220/.295/.376 without him.
Joel Sherman is as well-connected, especially to the Yankee front office, as any reporter in baseball, and the fact this is a full story and not just a tweet — er, X? — lends some credibility to the news. Still, manager Aaron Boone did not confirm the reporting ahead of today’s Subway Series finale:
Aaron Boone just said there is no plan to activate Aaron Judge on Friday but that he wouldn't rule anything out, a line he's used throughout the rehab process. #Yankees— Gary Phillips (@GaryHPhillips) July 26, 2023
The Yankees by nature are cagey, and Boone has mastered the art of saying something while not actually saying anything. They’re probably just playing it safe with Judge by declining to guarantee anything, and Sherman’s report did include the “barring no setbacks” caveat.
We’ll have to wait for any official news, but there’s no arguing this update isn’t some good fortune for a club in desperate need. They have no real hope of getting back into the playoff picture without their captain.