Two days after Yankees manager Aaron Boone manager said the “season is on the line,” Aaron Judge was on the bench Wednesday for a key showdown against Shohei Ohtani and the Angels.
The Yankees choked away a big lead without him — scoring seven off Ohtani in just two-thirds of an inning before Aroldis Chapman and Lucas Luetge gave up seven in the ninth in a disastrous 11-8 loss.
Boone said he was just giving Judge a day off, despite the urgency of the series for the middling Yankees, after the outfielder had started the first eight games in a stretch of 13 games in 13 days.
“Just a day, one that I feel like he really needs,” Boone said. “Today’s a very hard one [to sit him], with all we’re going through as a club and obviously who he is to our team. But I also have to, at times, keep the big picture in mind, especially with him, trying to make sure we get him posting as much as possible, which obviously he’s done a ton this year.
“But today was a day that I was pretty convicted he needed to be down.”
Judge homered and played all nine innings in Tuesday’s blowout win over the Angels, and came through the game with no visible physical issues. Boone had sat Judge earlier in the season citing lower-body soreness. Judge, however, still has played in 75 of the Yankees’ 80 games this season.
“I think he gets beat up a little bit [in the] lower half,” Boone said. “Especially the stretch of games we’re in right now … It’s been hot, we’ve played some three-and-a-half-plus hour games, some day games after night games. Obviously he’s played center field [seven starts this month]. He’s been on the bases a lot. I just think overall he’s a little beat up.
“Nothing I’m concerned with as far as anything that’s going to keep him out of the lineup. But more trying to get out ahead of preventing something from happening, just because of the stretch we’re in.”
Gio Urshela was also out of Wednesday’s lineup. Boone, as with Judge, called it “just a day [off].”
Clint Frazier, starting in right field for Judge, was replaced by Tyler Wade to begin the third inning after complaints of dizziness, the Yankees said. Frazier was examined by the team’s training staff and will be further evaluated Thursday.
The slumping Frazier was hit by a pitch on his hand in the first inning, his only at-bat before leaving the game.
The Yankees will have two prospects playing in the All-Star Futures Game on July 11 in Denver. Their top prospect, outfielder Jasson Dominguez, and right-hander Luis Medina, the club’s No. 7 prospect per MLB.com, were both named to the American League team. Minor league hitting coach Rachel Balkovec also will serve as the hitting coach for the AL.
Gerrit Cole will start Friday against the Mets, but the rest of the Yankees rotation for the Subway Series remains to be determined, according to Boone.
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