The Yankees’ vague description of what is ailing Aaron Judge — manager Aaron Boone literally used the phrase “non-specific” when explaining Judge’s absence from the lineup Thursday — has naturally led to speculation and concern about Judge’s health.
It also made us wonder if the team and its training staff had quietly designed an NBA-style load management plan to keep Judge healthy through a full season. If Judge was out of the lineup for the second straight day but available to pinch hit, was that more strategy than injury? Given Judge’s frequent absences over the past several years, that could make sense.
Well, our load management theory appears overthought. What is happening, per sources, is that the Yankees are attentive to when Judge becomes sore, and react by backing off. The hope in doing so is that soreness does not become injury. It’s more of an in-the-moment approach than a plan constructed in advance.
That’s the approach, and it has happened twice already this year, once due to soreness in his side and now due to soreness in his lower body. Naturally, the team is cognizant of exercising care with Judge, which is likely a factor in Boone’s excess of caution.
Speaking before Thursday’s game, Boone indicated that he does not plan off days for Judge more so than for other regulars.
“I look at it sometimes going into the week,” Boone said. “So for example, obviously I knew this 13 days in a row, three cities situation was coming up with travel, so I knew with all our, say, five or six guys that you know are pretty much going to be in there every day that I’m probably going to get each of them at least a day, Judgey included. So I guess a little bit that I know it’s coming, but I don’t necessarily look at it weeks out ahead or anything like that.”