TAMPA, Fla. — Yankees slugger Aaron Judge took batting practice for the first time since left shoulder surgery and said he is on track to play on opening day.

Judge hit a rookie record 52 home runs last year and was a unanimous pick for AL Rookie of the Year. He said the shoulder started to bother him around the All-Star break but he did not have any injections of painkiller. He refuses to attribute a lengthy slump to the injury.

He is a centerpiece of the Baby Bombers’ batting order along with catcher Gary Sanchez, a lineup boosted by the acquisition of major league home run champion Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins. New manager Aaron Boone plans to have Stanton and Judge — both right fielders — work out in left, and anticipates using the designated hitter spot to rotate players.

“Being around Stanton so far, he’s ready for New York, he’s ready to be here,” Judge said. “He’s going to fit right in with this team. It’s going to be a fun thing we’ve got here.”

Because he is coming off an injury, Judge was allowed to report early with pitchers and catchers. He had been hitting off a tee and taking soft tosses, then advanced Wednesday to hitting in a batting cage. He expects to hit on the field when position players report next week.

“My main goal is to be ready for opening day and we’re on schedule for that,” Judge said. “Everything is working out the way it’s supposed to be, and I’m looking forward to getting everything going.”

He finished second to Houston infielder Jose Altuve in the AL MVP race. He was hitting .329 with 30 homers and 66 RBIs at the All-Star break, then batted .179 with seven homers and 16 RBIs with 67 strikeouts in his next 44 games through the end of August.

Judge often was seen with packs of ice on his shoulder and it looked as if an injury might be preventing him from swinging freely, but the right fielder and manager Joe Girardi repeatedly said his shoulder was fine.

“It came down to, ‘Can you play?’ And I could play. … If I was able to play, I was …read more

Source:: Sportsnet.ca – Sports news


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Yankees’ Judge on track for opening day after shoulder surgery

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