Aaron Judge returned to the New York Yankees on Friday after a prolonged hiatus that put the team in postseason peril.


(PHOTO: Charles Nyonga for MLBbro.com)

Despite his absence, it was obvious that pitchers still approach him very carefully as he walked three times in a pitcher’s duel that the Yankees lost 1-0 at Camden Yards. With an enthusiastic grin and relief to be back in the lineup Judge brought confidence with him to a Yankee dugout which dearly missed its captain.


The 2022 American League Most Valuable Player was activated from the injured list after tearing a ligament in his right big toe on June 3 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.


Judge, who has been a notorious Baltimore Orioles basher especially in Camden Yards, waited through unbearable heat and a rain delay of more than two hours as the Yankees began a three-game series against the surprising “baby birds” who sit atop the AL east division.



 “It’s not 100%. I don’t think it’ll be 100% until the end of the year,” Judge said. “I think our biggest goal is just getting to a point where I could play, I could tolerate it.”

While Judge tried to project confidence that his injury was something he could play through for the remainder of the season, he was cautious to remind fans and followers that he probably wasn’t going to be without comfort for the rest of the season.

The all-time single season home run king was mindful that despite being cleared to play the injury, he
was anything but healed.


“We’re at a point where, talking with a couple of doctors, the ligament is stable. The last couple of MRIs didn’t really show much healing, but this one did. We’re in a really good spot right now.”

Nonetheless, there was an air of confidence that seemed to hover over the rest of the Yankees players who were in the batting cage while he addressed a sizable media contingent on the top steps of their dugout.


Manager Aaron Boone doesn’t expect Judge to be a savior for the Yankees season. But he does understand that having his captain back makes an immediate difference.


“We’ve got to be smart about that and make sure that in talking to Aaron, making sure he’s honest with his feedback about how he’s recovering, how he’s bouncing back,” Boone said. “Obviously, how the toe’s doing, but how everything else is doing.”


(PHOTO: Charles Nyonga for MLBbro.com)


Judge comes back after a horrific stretch for New York without his presence in the lineup.


The Yankees won only 19 of their 42 games during his rehab and seemed to be reeling heading into the final two months of the season trailing the Orioles by eight games in the division. Now there is a palpable sense of hope for the pinstripes.


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Heading into Friday night’s game Judge, for his career against the Orioles, had played 93 games.  In his previous 335 at bats  Judge was hitting .307 with 38 HR and 83 RBI.


Any time you’re sitting out, even if we were winning and we had an eight-game lead in the division, or we were 10 games out of it, I want to be back out there battling with the guys,” Judge said.



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