TAMPA, Fla. — Aaron Judge, James Paxton and Giancarlo Stanton are all progressing in their respective rehabilitation programs and should be prepared to make big league impacts when baseball resumes, manager Aaron Boone told the YES Network on Thursday.
“In our case, we had some injuries in Spring Training and it’s a chance for those guys to heal and be more a part of the early-season conversation, potentially,” Boone told YES’ Meredith Marakovits.
Judge did not appear in a Grapefruit League game this spring, stalled by what was eventually diagnosed as a stress fracture of his first right rib as well as a pneumothorax (collapsed lung). The club believes that those injuries stem from a September dive in the Yankee Stadium outfield, and Judge has continued to train at the George M. Steinbrenner Field complex.
“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. That is happening, but as [for] where he’s at exactly [in terms of baseball activities], we don’t have anything for you on that yet.”
Paxton underwent back surgery on Feb. 5, addressing discomfort that dated to his final regular-season start last Sept. 27 at Texas. Paxton has said that his best-case scenario would be to be pitching in big league games in mid-May, and the left-hander has been following a throwing program at his Wisconsin home.
“James Paxton has done great,” Boone said. “I feel really good about the decision to go ahead with the surgery. Every step of the way, it’s gone pretty smoothly for him. I think he threw his fifth bullpen [on Thursday] and continues to report that it’s going really well. Really encouraged where James is.”
Limited to two at-bats this spring due to a Grade 1 right calf strain, Stanton would likely have been playing in Major League games at this time if the start of the season had not been postponed.
“Giancarlo’s doing well,” Boone said. “He’s still reporting in Tampa and going through his rehab. He’s doing really well. When we get ready to go, he should certainly be ready to be back and part of things.”
In addition, outfielder Aaron Hicks has been performing physical therapy three times a week near his Arizona home, with his target date for big league games having been set for June or July. Hicks has been swinging a bat and is throwing.
Boone is at home with his family in Connecticut, where he has occasionally joined pitchers Gerrit Cole and Adam Ottavino to assist in their respective programs. Both hurlers threw bullpen sessions with Boone on Wednesday.
“They’re both doing really well,” Boone said. “Physically, they’re in a good place as far as workload and keeping their arms going. It’s putting them in a good position once we get going.”
Boone said that he has been busy with the organization’s daily Zoom calls, which have been in effect for about three weeks and offer a chance to assess players’ objectives and progress.
In addition, Boone said that the Yankees held a larger call last week with many of the players online, in addition to coaches, strength and conditioning staff and front-office personnel. Boone described it as a “casual, fun call,” that offered players a chance to ask questions.
“It was a little bit of a state of the union, I guess, from my standpoint,” Boone said. “It was more a chance for guys to get on and just talk smack to one another, see how everyone’s doing, see everyone — which I think was cool for everyone. I know they have their different FaceTime and video game things they do together, but it was good to get on and see those guys, and have Tommy [Kahnle] come in and be silly on there.”
Boone was also asked for his reaction to MLB’s punishment of the Red Sox, which was announced on Wednesday. After investigating allegations that Boston utilized technology to steal signs during the 2018 season, MLB suspended video replay system operator J.T. Watkins without pay through the '20 postseason and stripped the Red Sox of their second-round pick in this year's MLB Draft.
“Who knows exactly what went down?” Boone said. “I do trust that MLB thoroughly investigated and got to the bottom of things as best they can. I feel like that’s what was come up with, and so be it. It’s time to move on and I’m glad we’re kind of through those situations. As I’ve said all along, and I do believe this, hopefully as a sport we’ll be better moving forward. You mess around and they’re coming for you. I think that’s a good thing.”