The only timeline the Yankees have acknowledged regarding Aaron Judge is 10 days.
Judge officially was shuffled to the 10-day injured list Wednesday with what the club announced is a “right great toe sprain.”
Manager Aaron Boone said he did not expect to have further clarity on the Yankees’ best player until this weekend, when he hopes swelling will have subsided and the toe can be evaluated.
Judge received a platelet-rich plasma injection in the toe Tuesday night that is intended to speed up the healing process, but which left him “pretty sore” a day later, Boone said.
The team will not know much more until the swelling goes down.
“Think about getting a shot in your big toe — you got to get over that,” the manager said after the Yankees-White Sox game in The Bronx was postponed due to air quality concerns. “Then we’ll see where we’re at.”
Judge suffered the injury at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, missed two games amid medical testing and then was revealed to have what the Yankees called a “right toe contusion and sprain of the ligament.”
That diagnosis sounds vague to a medical professional, too.
“It could be a really simple, minor injury,” said Dr. Andrew Brief, an orthopedic surgeon in Ridgewood, N.J., who is fellowship-trained in foot and ankle surgery. “All the way to the other end of the spectrum, which could be a turf toe injury.”
Brief, who has not examined Judge or seen the scans on his foot, did not want to speculate on the exact nature of the injury or a timeline.
What he could surmise, though, is the fact the club placed Judge on the IL suggests the injury is serious enough that he either cannot or should not play through it.
This is not a toe-stub that can be shaken off.
“One of two things is happening,” Brief said over the phone. “Either he’s having enough pain where, subjectively, he can’t hit or run, [or] the MRI findings suggested that it would be unsafe for him to go back and play right away.”
DJ LeMahieu suffered a broken bone in his right big toe and ligament damage in his second toe last year, and those injuried essentially wrecked his season.
He posted an .813 OPS through July, before the injuries, and a .509 OPS from August through October.
Boone said LeMahieu’s injury was “different” and “more complicated” than Judge’s.
“The thought is he’ll get over this in time,” Boone said of Judge, “and he’ll be [completely] healed.”
LeMahieu is proof of how integral a right big toe is for a right-handed hitter. Without his ability to turn on his back foot during his swing, LeMahieu’s power was sapped.
“There’s a lot of torque and leverage to the right foot for a right-handed hitter,” Brief said. “There is definitely a significant amount of strain imparted to the great toe during the swing cycle.”
The Yankees cannot afford to allow Judge, who also runs around the outfield, to be compromised at the plate.
His 19 home runs lead the American League, and his 1.078 OPS is the best in baseball.
The recent returns from the IL of Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson will help the Yankees’ lineup, but Judge is the catalyst and captain.
A day after Judge banged his foot against the concrete at the base of the Dodger Stadium right-field wall while making a remarkable catch, the superstar could not rule out the possibility his toe was broken. The public diagnosis, while vague, at least ruled out a fracture, which would have been more serious.
But the injury is evidently severe enough that Judge will be sidelined for at least a while.