Rejoice, New York Yankees fans, for Aaron Judge has returned.
The reigning AL MVP was reinstated from the injured list Friday afternoon and is expected to play against the Baltimore Orioles for the first time since he suffered the toe injury that kept him out of the lineup since June 3.
There were whispers that Judge would play against the Baltimore Orioles after playing two days of simulated games earlier in the week, but manager Aaron Boone refused to offer a clear timetable for his return when asked this week.
During Judge's absence, the Yankees have been awful. In the 42 games they've played since his injury, the Yankees went 19-23 without their star outfielder and slugger. Until sweeping the Kansas City Royals last week, the Yankees hadn't won more than two games in a row in almost two months. Part of the issue is recent roster construction decisions that have skewed toward an aging, unreliable lineup.
The hope now is that Judge can help New York rally from the bottom of the AL East and into a wild-card slot during what's left of the regular season. The Yankees are eight games back of the first-place Orioles and 2.5 games out of the third wild-card spot.