NEW YORK — Aaron Judge is off the disabled list after missing seven weeks with a fractured right wrist, but not quite ready to hit.
Nonetheless, the New York Yankees are excited about the prospect of him getting closer to returning to the lineup, but until he does, Judge will be able to play in the field and run.
With Judge back from the disabled list on a limited basis, the Yankees continue a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon.
Judge was activated before Friday’s 11-0 win and played the final two innings in right field without getting a ball hit to him and earned a standing ovation when fans realized he was entering the game.
“Pretty crazy,” he said of getting a loud ovation.
It’s unclear when Judge might actually get any at-bats against live pitching, but manager Aaron Boone said it is possible Judge might get an at-bat during this homestand. Before making his first appearance since July 26 against Kansas City, he took batting practice on the field, something he started earlier this week in Minnesota.
“We’ll continue to ramp up from a hitting standpoint this weekend,” Boone said. “We’ve got a plan in place we’ll activate as we get closer. He’s getting real close to being an option for us.”
During the 45 games he missed, the Yankees were 25-20, including a 13-10 mark at home.
While Judge was on the disabled list, the Yankees averaged 4.8 runs and recorded a .235 batting average (351-for-1496) with 71 homers. Giancarlo Stanton heated up early in Judge’s absence but overall batted .224 (38-for-170) with 10 homers and 25 RBIs in the 45 games.
In the meantime, the Yankees (91-56) will hope to get more nights like Friday when they collected 14 hits and remained 1 1/2 games ahead of Oakland in the wild-card race.
“Anytime one of your top guys go down, it’s a pretty big hole,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said Friday afternoon. “Some teams have more to cover than others but it’s still, he’s been the guy here. Then they got to change their lineup a little bit. Even if a guy’s struggling you’re aware where he is in the lineup, he’s probably going to come up. A guy like that can beat you, even if he mishits a ball, that can change a game.”
The Blue Jays (65-82) are 4-9 in their last 13 games and officially clinched their second straight losing season after making consecutive postseason appearances in 2015 and 2016.
“It’s the way it goes sometimes in this game,” Gibbons said. “It’s tough to stay on top. We’re in a rebuild mode now, so you’re going to take your lumps.”
Toronto has taken its lumps when facing a left-handed starter and after doing little off Masahiro Tanaka, the Blue Jays face CC Sabathia. Toronto has lost its last nine games when facing a southpaw starter and is a major league-worst 14-35 in those games.
CC Sabathia makes his fifth attempt at getting his 245th career win, which would tie him with Dennis Martinez and Jack Powell for 53rd on the all-time list. Since getting his 244th career win Aug. 12 against Texas, he is 0-2 with a 4.87 ERA.
Sabathia last pitched in Sunday’s 3-2 loss at Seattle when he allowed two runs on seven hits in five innings while getting a no-decision.
The left-hander is 18-11 with a 3.48 ERA in 34 career starts against the Blue Jays.
Sean-Reid Foley will make his fifth career start and so far, he is 1-3 with a 6.86 ERA. Reid-Foley fanned 10 in seven innings for his first career win Sept. 2 at Miami but allowed six runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings last Saturday in a 9-8 loss to Cleveland.
Reid-Foley opposed the Yankees in New York on Aug. 18 and was tagged for eight runs (six earned) on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. It was the shortest of his starts so far.