The MLB pause due to the coronavirus pandemic has given injured Aaron Judge extra time to heal from shoulder and rib issues, but he still might not be ready for the potentially rescheduled Opening Day.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman said Thursday during a video chat with reporters that while Judge continues to heal, he was never expected to be MLB-ready until the "summertime," noting that Judge "wants to play as much as anybody" and that the Yanks are looking forward to having him back in the lineup.
"Ultimately, the broken rib that Aaron Judge suffered, it's in an area that the blood flow to that region is more difficult," Cashman said. "Blood flow is a significant part of the healing, so that's why the time frame is longer. When it happened, I always felt that we wouldn't see Judge more likely until the summertime."
While "summertime" could theoretically mean June 20, it could also mean any summer date after that.
As MLB and the Players Association continue to negotiate the league's proposal for a potential return, the goal is to resume spring training around June 10 and for Opening Day to be around July 1.
Judge's shoulder issue in spring training led to a battery of tests and later to the diagnosis of a stress fracture in his rib. Yankees manager Aaron Boone provided an update on May 5 regarding the specifics of what Judge was currently dealing with.
"He's due for another CT scan I believe in a couple more weeks," Boone said. "So this time down has allowed that rib, that bone to continue to heal and all signs are encouraging there."
An update from Boone on April 23 was similarly promising but a bit vague.
"He's in Tampa. We're using this time, he's using this time to continue to heal," Boone said. "I don't really have much more for you other than obviously it's been very productive having the chance to have this time to allow that rib to heal and that is happening. As to where he's at exactly, we don't have anything for you on that yet."
If Judge is not ready for a rescheduled Opening Day, the Yankees could go with some combination of Giancarlo Stanton, Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman, and Clint Frazier in the outfield. Aaron Hicks, who continues to work his way back from Tommy John surgery, could also be an option at some point.