NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Aaron Judge immediately knew something was wrong. He’d been hit by pitches before, and they never felt like this.
A day later, the New York Yankees slugger could smile. Sort of. His fractured right wrist will put him out for three weeks, not the rest of the season.
“It could’ve been a lot worse,” Judge said Friday night.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said it was “pretty realistic” that Judge should be able to play a game in three weeks. Asked whether that would be a minor league rehab appearance or a return to the Yankees’ lineup, Judge said he thought it meant the majors.
“With the Yankees,” the All-Star right fielder said, “I believe.”
Judge is hitting .285 with 26 home runs and 61 RBIs. Boone said Giancarlo Stanton will take over in right during Judge’s recovery — Stanton has split time in left field, right and at designated hitter.
Judge was nailed by a tailing fastball from Kansas City right-hander Jakob Junis in the first inning Thursday night.
“I had a bad feeling,” Judge said. “I didn’t have a good feeling when it hit me.”
Judge winced, did a quick twirl in the batter’s box, slung his bat toward the dugout and headed to first base. A trainer checked him and had Judge do some hand exercises.
Judge, who was the DH, stayed in the game and got an infield single the next time up. But after having trouble swinging in the indoor batting cage, he was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the fourth. Then, something unusual happened. Fans at the game started a sort of vigil for the slugger.
The sight never before seen at a Yankees’ game sparked a look of confusion on first baseman Greg Bird’s face.
“Now what do you make of this? I’ve never seen this at the stadium. It looks like a concert in the upper deck,” announcer Michael Kay said.
Fans in left field turned on their phone flashlights, and the gesture spread throughout the stadium.
“When the lights came on, it was pretty obvious that fans were showing their support for him,” said fan Dave Wengel. “I wish they didn’t have to do it, but it was kind of true Yankees fans, you know hanging in there for Aaron.”
The Yankees and Royals were rained out Friday night, and Judge spent the day getting treatment. Mostly a mix of ice and compression to keep the swelling down.
Judge also has a brace for the lower half of his right arm. He wore it while taking part in a pregame presentation, before the game was called.
“It’s tough, but stuff like this happens,” he said.
The Yankees said Judge doesn’t need surgery. He was put him the 10-day disabled list and infielder-outfielder Tyler Wade was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Yankees went into the weekend trailing AL East-leading Boston by 4 1/2 games. The teams play four times at Fenway Park next week.
Boone said Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks and Stanton will form the outfield for most games while Judge is out. The versatile Wade figures to get some time there, too.
There’s no timetable for outfielders Clint Frazier and Jacoby Ellsbury to return from the disabled list. Catcher Gary Sanchez also is on the DL and expected to be miss most of August.
After the Yankees bolstered their pitching staff this week by getting starter J.A. Happ from Toronto and reliever Zach Britton from Baltimore, there’s always a chance they’ll make another deal for a hitter before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
“Whether we get reinforcements, who knows?” Boone said.
Yankees pitcher Sonny Gray said his right thumb was feeling better a day after it was hit by a hard grounder. The right-hander said he fully expects to make his next start as scheduled.
“I’ll be ready in five days,” he said.
The Yankees also said newly acquired J.A. Happ would make his New York debut Sunday when he starts against the Royals. Toronto traded the lefty on Thursday for infielder Brandon Drury and minor league outfielder Billy McKinney.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)