Yankees say Aaron Judge appears to respond to second toe injection

New York Yankees Aaron Judge, center, watches with teammates during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in New York. The Yankees won 7-6. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) (Frank Franklin Ii, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

NEW YORK – Aaron Judge appears to be responding to a second platelet-rich plasma injection to his right big toe yet has not resumed baseball activities.

Judge was hurt June 3 when he ran into a wall while making a catch at Dodger Stadium. The Yankees announced the first injection on June 6 and said Judge had another last Thursday.

“I’m encouraged by what I’m seeing,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before Tuesday’s series opener against Seattle. “He’s been slowly doing better and able to do more things, but do feel like hopefully that was the start of him really starting to make some real progress.”

Boone said the swelling subsided and Judge is able to do more activity on the toe while keeping balanced.

Judge is the reigning AL MVP after setting an AL record with 62 home runs last year. He is hitting .291 with 19 homers and 40 RBIs, and the Yankees are 9-14 with Judge on the injured list and 31-19 when he has been available. They have lost eight of 13 since the latest injury.

“Been through these wars enough to know that you got to deal with the ups and downs the same way,” general manager Brian Cashman said.

“We got a really good team when we’re flying high and playing the way we’re capable of. Right now, we haven’t been doing that and so it looks bad, it feels bad, it tastes bad. And no one likes losing, so I understand why the fans are upset and not happy with how it’s playing out. But there’s a long way to go and we intend to make sure we do what’s necessary to get where we need to be.”

Harrison Bader returned to the lineup Tuesday night for the first time since straining his right hamstring while running out an infield single at Seattle on May 29. The 29-year-old Gold Glove center fielder went 1 for 3 with a stolen base and a run in a 3-1 victory. He had originally hoped to rejoin the Yankees for last weekend’s series at Fenway Park.

“If I was put in a situation where I was in Fenway and I need to do something big for the team, I just wasn’t completely positive that that final gear was there,” Bader said. “Just didn’t really know what was on the other side of pushing it fully.”

Bader is hitting .269 with six homers, 19 RBIs and seven stolen bases in 27 games. He didn’t make his season debut until May 2 after straining his left oblique during spring training.

Last year, he was sidelined between June 26 and Sept. 20 by plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Bader was acquired by the Yankees from St. Louis at the trade deadline and hit five homers in nine postseason games.

“A lot of it just comes from how hard I play the game and how I attack the game, and that’s never going to change,” he said. “I think maybe picking your spots, maybe not over-lunging to try to beat out an infield single when I had base anyway. ... It’s just about playing smart and (not) doing things over the top when they’re not necessary I think will help me stay on the field for for much longer."

New York’s offense had struggled in the absence of Judge and Bader, hitting a major league-low .196 in June, both major league lows. Before going 3 for 4 with an RBI double against Seattle, Anthony Rizzo was hitting .083 (4 for 48) with no homers and four RBIs after injuring his neck in a collision at first base with San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr. on May 28.

DJ LeMahieu, the 2020 big league batting champion. is hitting .167 (15 for 90) with two homers and five RBIs since May 14. Boone rested him from the Sunday night game as the Yankees got swept in a doubleheader at Boston and planned to rest him for at least two games against Seattle.

“I just want him to kind of continue to work on some things he’s working on to kind of get him going and get unlocked,” Boone said. “Diving into a lot of video.”

Left-hander Carlos Rodón allowed one run over three innings for Somerset against New Hampshire on Tuesday night, his first game since a two-inning spring training outing for New York against Atlanta on March 5. Signed to a $162 million, six-year contract, Rodón has been sidelined by a strained left forearm followed by back pain.

Rodón struck out five, walked one and allowed one hit, throwing 27 of 42 pitches for strikes.

“We’ve been pretty encouraged by how it’s gone here these last few weeks,” Boone said before the game.

Rodón likely will make three rehab appearances, putting him on track to join the rotation in early July, just before the All-Star break.

Left-hander Nestor Cortes, who hasn’t pitched since May 30 because of a strained left rotator cuff, threw from 75 feet Tuesday.


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