NEW YORK – The surging New York Yankees appear to have help on the way.
All-Star slugger Aaron Judge participated in baserunning and fielding drills for about a half hour Monday at Yankee Stadium under the watchful eye of team staff, and Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius also made progress in their recoveries from injuries for New York, which is a season-best 36 games over .500.
“Just gradually starting to introduce some baseball-type activities,” manager Aaron Boone said of Judge. “It feels like, hopefully, he’s improving a little bit.”
The towering right fielder has not swung a bat since July 26, the night he fractured his right wrist after being drilled by Kansas City’s Jakob Junis. Judge is hitting .285 with 26 home runs and 61 RBIs.
“We just haven’t gone to the next level of really starting to swing the bat yet,” Boone said. “That’s been trending in the right direction but has been something that’s moved kind of slow.”
The Yankees originally anticipated the reigning American League Rookie of the Year could return to action in as soon as three weeks, a prediction that has since missed the mark. Although he fielded some balls in right field Monday, Judge has yet to let his big right arm loose on any throws.
“He’s not throwing the ball (at) full intensity because I think that’s along the lines of really starting to hit,” Boone said. “When you’re cutting it loose there, that’s the motion of that, you’re going to feel that.”
Sanchez, on the shelf since July 24 with a strained right groin, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday night and homered in his first at-bat. Despite sporting a .188 batting average with 14 homers in what has been a disappointing season for the 25-year old backstop, a rejuvenated Sanchez could provide another major power threat down the stretch.
“I just feel like his conditioning is at a really, really good level,” Boone said. “To me, it’s the best it’s been all year.”
Out for a week with a left heel contusion, Gregorius hit off a tee Monday and was set to see a doctor. The steady shortstop is hitting .270 with 22 homers and 74 RBIs.
“He’s doing well,” Boone said. “We’ve seen significant improvement with him every day.”
Meanwhile, New York’s deep bullpen is awaiting the return of All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman. Placed on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday with tendinitis in his left knee, the lefty flamethrower received a platelet injection Friday.
“A little bit of improvement but we’re still in the early days of responding to the injection,” Boone said. “Let the injection take hold and hopefully a little bit of downtime and rest time before we start ramping him back up.”
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