LAKELAND, Fla. – Aaron Judge goes for another round of tests on Monday, as the Yankees try to solve their latest medical mystery in camp.
What’s wrong with the slugger’s right shoulder?
“It’s frustrating that we haven’t pinpointed exactly what it is and what’s causing the discomfort,’’ manager Aaron Boone said on Sunday. “But I’d say I feel a little more optimistic about where we’re at.’’
Asked what provided that optimism, Boone replied: “It’s just how I’m feeling.’’
If you can’t take a sunny outlook in spring training, when can you?
So, there’ll be another organizational chorus of whistling in the dark as Judge undergoes additional unspecified exams in Florida.
Judge was at the Yankees complex on Sunday morning, but there wasn’t much Boone could add about the right fielder’s condition, “other than he’s doing better’’ than Friday or Saturday.
“They worked on him a lot (Saturday),’’ Boone said of the training staff. “So, I’d say we were a little encouraged this morning.’’
After his weekend outing, ace Gerrit Cole expressed his personal optimism that Stanton and Judge would return to action soon.
“And you know they're at that time in the year where you don't really have to push anything,’’ Cole said of the spring training calendar. Plus, “we have depth, we have a lot of good players’’ to fill the void.
Targeting the pain
The source of Judge’s discomfort is located more under the right pectoral muscle, near the armpit, when he swings.
“Where’s it coming from? What’s generating that?’’ Boone said of the questions still lingering, despite two negative MRI results.
Judge has had no problems throwing, according to Boone. The discomfort only surfaces while hitting and “it returned when he really started ramping up the last few days,’’ Boone said.
During batting practice just prior to the Yankees first full squad workout on Feb. 18, Judge was shut down from hitting due to shoulder maintenance and had just resumed taking indoor BP last Thursday.
“He’s been getting a lot of treatment,’’ Boone said of Judge. “A lot of eyes and hands (have been) on him, trying to get to the bottom and free him up a little bit.’’
Entering camp, the Yankees’ outfield depth was already compromised by Aaron Hicks’ rehab from Tommy John surgery.
Giancarlo Stanton’s Grade 1 right calf strain has thrown another wrench into the mix, though the slugging left fielder/designated hitter smiled and told Boone he was feeling better on Sunday.
While there’s a chance that Stanton could be ready by the March 26 opener, or shortly thereafter, Hicks isn’t due to begin throwing for another month.
That puts the switch-hitting center fielder’s return at roughly midseason.
“It may be June, it may be July,’’ Boone said. For now, “he’s on track and healing and (Hicks’ rehab) has gone according to plan thus far.’’
Brett Gardner, 36, will be the regular center fielder until Hicks’ return and fellow lefty hitter Mike Tauchman could see regular time at three outfield spots.
And just as Miguel Andujar has looked good so far in his initial work in left field, non-roster switch-hitter Rosell Herrera has “opened some eyes’’ for his defense at multiple positions and at the plate.
"I'm here to...try to help the team at every position they want,'' said Herrera, 27, who went 3-for-3 with a two-run double as the Yanks' right fielder in Sunday's exhibition game, a 10-4 Tigers win.
A natural shortstop, Herrera played the majority of his 68 games for the Miami Marlins last season as an outfielder.
“We’ll be equipped to handle whatever’s thrown at us, and whatever we’ve got to deal with,’’ Boone said. “I’m also very optimistic on both Aaron and Giancarlo not being long-term (injuries).’’