ATLANTA — Aaron Judge’s toe is not fully healed, but that hasn’t stopped him from playing the outfield.
Prior to Wednesday’s series finale against the Braves, Judge had played right field in three of the Yankees’ last four games. Following Tuesday’s 5-0 loss, he suggested that playing the outfield gives his last-place, .500 team the best chance to win with 42 games left in the season.
“There’s no time to waste,” Judge said when asked if his recent outfield play meant his toe is feeling better. “We gotta try to put the best lineup out there every single day. So if that’s me playing outfield, we gotta do it. We’re running out of time, so yeah, I gotta be out there.”
But Wednesday’s lineup had Judge filling the designated hitter role and Giancarlo Stanton in right field, as manager Aaron Boone still has to balance the slugger’s health with the Yankees’ unfavorable circumstances.
Boone said that even as Judge’s health continues to hopefully improve, the manager has to “be mindful and use the DH when I can with him.” Boone added that he checks in with Judge to see how he’s feeling after every game, especially when the skipper wants the reigning MVP to play the field the next day.
“It’s a lot of just communication with Aaron and making sure he’s in a good spot with the training staff as well,” Boone said.
The Yankees have mostly used Stanton in right field when Judge DHs since the latter returned on July 28. Jake Bauers has also been an option in right, though he hasn’t started there since first baseman Anthony Rizzo (post-concussion syndrome) went on the injured list on Aug. 3.
Bauers is a poor outfielder, while Stanton’s lack of mobility makes him another defensive liability. Even with a healing toe, Judge is still the Yankees’ best defensive option in right at a time when they need to win games.
Tuesday’s loss saw the Yankees fall 6.5 games back of the third and final wild-card spot, which the Blue Jays occupy. The Mariners (2 GB) and Red Sox (3 GB) are also ahead of the Yankees, who have not finished below .500 since 1992.
Boone thought that Carlos Rodón (hamstring) threw five innings during a simulated game in Tampa on Wednesday. The manager added that the game went well, but he didn’t have a full report on Rodón’s day.
Still, Boone said that Rodón is in line to start Tuesday against the Nationals. The southpaw, who has also battled forearm and back injuries this year, owns a 7.33 ERA through his first six starts with the Yankees.
Prior to Wednesday’s game, Gleyber Torres had grounded into six double plays in his last six games. That’s the most ever by a Yankee in a six-game span, per statistician Katie Sharp.
Boone said Torres’ recent run of double plays was just a product of circumstance, and not a reason for him to change his approach.
“Typically, he’s a guy that gets the ball in the air and gets the ball on a line pretty consistently,” Boone said. “It’s something he does really well. He’s been really consistent this year in the batter’s box with his level of at-bats.”
Torres entered Wednesday’s game slashing .265/.332/.434 with 18 home runs and 49 RBIs.