If MLB’s season had started on time, that may not have been true. Judge was diagnosed with a fractured rib and a punctured lung in March, the result of a late 2019 outfield dive. He was prescribed several weeks of rest and was likely to start the 2020 season on the injured list.
Those several weeks turned into more than three months, as MLB shut down spring training on March 12 due to COVID-19. That was quality healing time for judge, who now says he’ll be ready to go when the Yankees open their season against the Washington Nationals on July 23.
"I'm game-ready. Like I told you guys in spring training, I was going to be ready for opening day," Judge said after Monday’s practice, via ESPN. "I'm feeling good. The biggest thing now is just getting the reps in because I missed so many at-bats in spring training. I didn't get all the reps in the outfield, reps on the bases. Right now, it's just about getting my timing back in the game and just getting my game reps in and go out there for 60 games."
Judge also discussed his feelings about playing during the COVID-19 pandemic, telling reporters he never considered opting out.
"There's obviously a risk — of anything," he said. "Just walking outside, there's a risk. Leaving your apartment, there's a risk. There's risk everywhere, but I love this game, and I love the team that we've got here and the opportunity we have here."
That opportunity is why he’s playing now, and also why he’s so serious about following all health and safety regulations — and making sure his teammates do, too.
"That's what we talked about as a team and with each other, hammering being accountable for each other," Judge said. "Watching out for each other. Making sure you're washing your hands, making sure you wear your mask, making sure you're doing the things so that everybody stays healthy and stays on the field."
Judge, 28, hit .272/.381/.540 with 27 home runs in 2019. An oblique injury limited him to just 102 games.
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