Aaron Judge undergoes left shoulder surgery, will be ready for Spring Training

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Turns out Aaron Judge wrapping his left shoulder with a big ice pack after each game in the second half was more than routine maintenance. Judge had arthroscopic surgery on the shoulder yesterday, the Yankees announced. The procedure “involved a loose-body removal and cartilage clean-up,” and his recovery will be completed in time for Spring Training.

Judge started wrapping his shoulder in the second half, at the same time as his slump, though of course he denied it had anything to do with his troubles at the plate. “It’s not affecting me at all,” he said on more than one occasion. Here’s a look at the ice pack following a game with the Red Sox on August 20th.

It’s impossible to say how much the achy shoulder contributed to Judge’s slump, if it contributed at all. He never made excuses, though the left shoulder is Judge’s front shoulder when hitting, and the front shoulder is the power shoulder. It might not have been a coincidence his hard contact rate dropped precipitously in the first few weeks of the second half.


If the shoulder was bothering Judge, it didn’t show in September, when he hit .311/.463/.889 (233 wRC+) with 15 home runs, his most in any month. Achy shoulder or not, Judge still hit .284/.422/.627 (173 wRC+) with 52 home runs this season, and that is pretty awesome. That earned him the AL Rookie of the Year award (unanimously) and a second place finish in the AL MVP voting.

Although this surgery seems minor — it was arthroscopic, so they didn’t have to cut Judge open — every surgery is a risk, especially when it involves a major joint like the shoulder. Hopefully Judge’s rehab goes well and he comes back next season at full strength, because if this season was any indication, he’s pretty excellent even when his shoulder is barking.

Update: Severino exits ALCS Game Two with shoulder injury


7:25pm ET: Following Game Two, Joe Girardi said Severino checked out fine. They were worried more about his shoulder than his hand following the comebacker. Severino didn’t want to come out of the game, but the Yankees pulled him anyway. “I feel great. I feel 100%,” he said after the game. He’s going for precautionary tests anyway.

5:53pm ET: Luis Severino left Game Two of the ALCS this afternoon with a possible injury. The trainer came out to talk to him in the fourth inning after he windmilled his arm and grabbed for the rosin bag, then, later in the inning, Severino was hit in the left wrist area by a hard comeback chopper. So who knows what exactly is wrong with him.

Throughout the start, Severino’s stuff look fine and there was no drop-off in velocity after the trainer came out to talk to him. I’m pretty sure it’s the wrist, though. I hope it is, anyway. The comebacker got him good and Severino grimaced. He was pretty clearly in pain. Severino threw 62 pitches in four innings before exiting the game.

If the injury is anything serious, a) aw crap, and b) the Yankees can replace Severino on the ALCS roster. If they do that though, he will not be eligible for the World Series roster should the Yankees advance. The Yankees have not yet announced an update on Severino, so stay tuned.

Game 146: Back in the Bronx

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Yankees have been home in New York for three days now, and tonight they return home to Yankee Stadium for the start of a seven-game homestand against two wildcard hopefuls. Three neutral site games at Citi Field was kinda neat — the circumstances were terrible, obviously — but it’s good to be back home. Home home. The Yankees have 17 games remaining this season and 14 will be in the Bronx. Hooray for that.

The Orioles are in town for four games this weekend and it is basically do or die time for them. They are seven games behind the Yankees and, more importantly, 4.5 games behind the Twins for the second wildcard spot. With five teams ahead of them. Sucks for them. The Yankees are still within striking distance of the Red Sox for the AL East crown. This weekend is a good chance to beat up on some bad pitching and gain ground. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. RF Aaron Judge
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. 1B Chase Headley
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 3B Todd Frazier
  8. 2B Ronald Torreyes
  9. LF Clint Frazier
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It is cloudy and kinda sticky in New York right now. It rained on-and-off this afternoon and it is expected to do the same tonight. Doesn’t look like it’ll be anything heavy enough to delay the game, however. Hope not. Tonight’s game will begin a little after 7pm ET and you’ll be able to watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Greg Bird (back) is ready to play, though he is not in tonight’s lineup against left-hander Wade Miley. He is expected to play tomorrow … Aaron Hicks (oblique) has started working out but has yet to swing a bat. He’s been sick the last day or two and the Yankees have had him stay home … Adam Warren (back) remains shut down. The Yankees are hopeful he’ll be back before the end of the season.

Aaron Hicks exits with left oblique tightness

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

4:13pm ET: Joe Girardi said Hicks suffered the injury making that sixth inning catch, and apparently the oblique isn’t as tight as it was the last time Hicks got hurt. He’s going for an MRI, because duh.

4:07pm ET: Aaron Hicks left this afternoon’s game with left oblique tightness, the Yankees announced. That is not the same oblique that landed him on the disabled list earlier this year. He was out with a right oblique strain. Hicks exited the game after making a running catch to end the sixth inning.

As we’ve seen with Hicks and Clint Frazier, oblique injuries are not often quick healing. Hopefully Hicks was removed as a precaution and he’ll be good to go soon. I know he hasn’t been great the last week or two, but healthy players > injured players, especially when it’s someone as talented as Hicks.

If Hicks were to miss time, the Yankees don’t really have a true fourth outfielder. Not with Frazier out too. I guess it would be Tyler Wade? The Yankees could make a 40-man roster move to add either Jake Cave or Billy McKinney — Cave can play center, McKinney can’t — but hopefully it doesn’t come to that.

Should the Yankees have used the 10-day DL more often this year?

(Adam Glanzman/Getty)
(Adam Glanzman/Getty)

Last night Masahiro Tanaka returned to the rotation after a quick stint on the 10-day DL to deal with what was essentially a dead arm. The Yankees announced it as shoulder inflammation, though everyone involved called it fatigue. No big deal. Tanaka returned three days after CC Sabathia returned from the 10-day DL. Sabathia had more problems with his troublesome right now. Both guys missed the minimum ten days.

MLB went from a 15-day DL to a 10-day DL this year and, not surprisingly, teams are really taking advantage of it. Pretty much anytime a player is banged up, he gets quick ten-day vacation. Already this year there have been 502 DL stints across baseball. There were 472 all of last year. No team has used the new 10-day DL more than the Dodgers. They’ve had 25 DL stints already, most in baseball.

That is, at least somewhat, by design. The Dodgers have put all their starting pitchers on the 10-day DL at some point just to give them a little rest here and there. The Yankees have had 17 DL stints this year, which is middle of the pack. They’ve had the opportunity to use at times and declined. Aroldis Chapman‘s hamstring injury last week, for example. They went a few days without Chapman being available rather than give him that quick ten-day break.

It’s a little too late to take advantage of the 10-day DL now — rosters expand in nine days and there’s no point in placing someone on the 10-day DL in September — but should the Yankees have used it more often this year? For, say, Chapman’s hamstring. Or to give Luis Severino a quick breather at some point with his innings mounting. Or for Aaron Judge’s achy shoulder. It’s easy to say yes, but three things to consider.

1. Players don’t like going on the DL. Players are competitors. They aren’t robots and this isn’t a video game. You don’t put a player on the DL for ten days when he only needs a day or two without potentially upsetting him. They all want to play. Every single one of them. No one wants to go sit on the DL for a week and a half when it’s not necessary. There are relationships to be maintained — even explaining the situation to the player isn’t guaranteed to smooth things over — and heck, a player could even go to the union to file a grievance.

2. You need to have quality depth to do this. Okay, so you want to put Judge on the DL to knock out his shoulder issue? Who steps into the lineup then? It’ll be Jacoby Ellsbury, who is hitting .238/.315/.367 (83 wRC+) this season. And who gets called up? Probably another reliever with the way the Yankees are going. Chapman going on the DL likely means Gio Gallegos or Bryan Mitchell. Want to skip a Severino start? Prepare for more Mitchell or Luis Cessa. There’s inevitably going to be a drop off from the regular being stashed on the DL to the guy replacing him.

3. The Yankees are in the postseason race. This ties in to the previous point. The Yankees are trying to catch the Red Sox in the AL East and hold off basically the rest of the AL in the wildcard race. They need as many Severino starts and Judge at-bats as possible. They’re not in position to voluntarily give some of those away. I suppose the counterargument here is that a quick 10-day DL stint here and there means more effective players down the stretch. That’s more a theory than a proven fact though, isn’t it? It’s tough to see how sitting your regulars for ten days at a time equals improved odds of winning.

* * *

The Dodgers have manipulated the 10-day DL rule expertly, and they’ve been able to do it because they’re on pace for 116 wins and have a 20-something game lead in the division. If the Yankees had the same lead, I’m certain Severino’s workload would be getting scaled back a bit, and Judge and everyone else would be getting more time off. That’s not the case though. The Yankees are fighting for a postseason spot and they need their best players on the field as much as possible.

Using the 10-day DL to give players a midseason rest is something to keep in mind for the future. The Yankees seem to be building toward something special, toward sustained excellence, and should they achieve it some point, resting their players for ten days at a time would be more doable. It’s too late to do it this year, and besides, the Yankees need all their players to help them reach the postseason. This is one of those ideas that sounds great in theory but isn’t quite as easy to put into practice.

Update: Montgomery appears to be okay after getting hit in head by line drive during batting practice

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

4:16pm ET: The Yankees announced that Montgomery was evaluated and cleared to start tomorrow’s game. Phew. That was scary.

3:44pm ET: Ken Rosenthal hears from a Yankees official that “it appears” Montgomery will be okay. Good news. The Yankees have not yet announced an official update on Montgomery or their pitching plan for tomorrow’s game.

3:34pm ET: According to multiple reports, Jordan Montgomery was hit in the right side of the head by a line drive while signing autographs during batting practice this afternoon. He was helped off the field and reportedly held a towel up to his head in the dugout for a few minutes before exiting back into the clubhouse.

The Yankees have not yet released an update on Montgomery, so stay tuned. I imagine he’ll go through MLB’s concussion protocol, and also go for an x-rays and other tests. A line drive to the head is no joke. Hopefully Montgomery comes out of it with a bruise and nothing more. Head injuries are scary stuff.

Montgomery is currently scheduled to start tomorrow night’s game, though the Yankees might have to call an audible. Bryan Mitchell, who threw 67 pitches in relief Tuesday, could get the ball instead. Caleb Smith is scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton tomorrow and could be another option. We’ll see.

The Yankees placed Masahiro Tanaka on the 10-day DL with shoulder inflammation earlier today. They’re also without CC Sabathia (knee) and Michael Pineda (Tommy John surgery). Montgomery was recalled yesterday to take Sabathia’s spot in the rotation.

Shoulder inflammation sends Masahiro Tanaka to 10-day DL

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

1:03pm ET: Joe Girardi described the injury as fatigue, or a dead arm. There’s no structural damage and the Yankees are essentially planning to give Tanaka a ten-day break. He won’t throw for five days before getting back to it. That’s not so bad, as long as that’s all it really is.

12:24pm ET: The Yankees are down another starting pitcher. Masahiro Tanaka has been placed on the 10-day DL with shoulder inflammation, the Yankees announced. Gio Gallegos was called up to fill the roster spot for the time being. The Yankees are already without CC Sabathia (knee) and Michael Pineda (elbow). Pineda is done for the season with Tommy John surgery.

Perhaps the shoulder issue explains Tanaka’s rough start in Toronto three days ago, when he allowed three runs (two earned) in four innings plus two batters. Overall, this has been a poor season for Tanaka (4.92 ERA and 4.65 FIP), though he’s been much better over the last two months or so. He has a 3.33 ERA (3.64 FIP) in his last eleven starts after pitching to a 6.55 ERA (5.68 FIP) in his first 12 starts.

Tanaka’s next start was scheduled for Monday against the Mets, and the Yankees do have plenty of options to replace him. Bryan Mitchell is already stretched out and on the 25-man roster. Caleb Smith and Luis Cessa are sitting in Triple-A, as is Domingo German. All three of those guys are on the 40-man roster and eligible to be called up. None are within the ten-day send down window.

Chance Adams is a possibility as well, though he just started for Triple-A Scranton last night, so he’s not an option for Monday. The Yankees have an open 40-man roster spot. Adding Adams and calling him up at some point in the future would be a piece of cake. For what it’s worth, Smith is lined up to start tomorrow for the RailRiders and Cessa is lined up for Monday. That’s convenient.

There’s no word on how long Tanaka will be sidelined yet. I imagine he’s already had an MRI and all that. Sabathia received cortisone and lubrication injections in his troublesome right knee yesterday, and he’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session tomorrow. It’s possible he could be activated as soon as his ten days on the DL are up, meaning the Yankees would only need someone to make one spot start to fill in for Tanaka before Sabathia returns.

The Yankees called Jordan Montgomery back up yesterday and he’s going to replace Sabathia. Montgomery is on a 180-ish innings limit this year, giving him roughly 60 more innings to go this year. That seems like plenty to get through the season, no? Hopefully. For now, the Yankees are down yet another starting pitching. Good thing they got two at the trade deadline, huh?