Judge could return to Yankees lineup Saturday

Judge could return to Yankees lineup Saturday

TAMPA, Fla. — New York Yankees star Aaron Judge could be back in the lineup Saturday after being slowed by abdominal discomfort.

Judge hasn’t taken on-field batting practice or hit in a game since Sunday. He had an MRI on Monday.

New York manager Aaron Boone intends to have Judge to play center field Saturday against Toronto. Judge is more focused on the March 28 opener at Houston.

“We’re in no rush,” Judge said Thursday. “In the season, I’m definitely in there right now, but our goal is March 28.”

Judge started feeling discomfort with his abdomen during his swing’s follow-through about a week ago.

Boone said batting practice Friday for Judge is a possibility.

“We’ll take it day-to-day,” said Judge, who shagged during batting practice Thursday.

Judge noted that NL MVP Ronald Acuna Jr. didn’t play for two weeks before Thursday due to irritation in his right knee meniscus.

“What matters is being there in the regular season,” Judge said. “So this is about making sure we’re ready to go when those games count. I just saw up Acuña has been out for two weeks. It’s better to miss the time now, than July, August when it really matters. So, it’s just about us being smart doing our thing and we’ll be out there when we need to.”

Judge missed 42 games last season with a torn ligament in his right big toe, an injury sustained when he ran into Dodger Stadium’s right-field fence on June 3,

“Running around because the toe feels great,” Judge said. “It’s never felt better.”

Boone said ace Gerrit Cole was being examined and undergoing additional tests by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Cole has had issues with elbow recovery after spring training starts. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, Cole has made at least 30 starts in each of the last six full regular seasons. He had an MRI on Monday and X-rays and a CT scan on Tuesday.