TORONTO — The Yankees will not have any playoff games on their calendar next month, but they do not expect to have any surgery on the schedule, either, for their most important hitter.
Aaron Judge is not expected to need offseason surgery on his right big toe, manager Aaron Boone reiterated on Tuesday before the Yankees opened a series against the Blue Jays with a 2-0 win.
It had been the hope for some time that Judge could avoid surgery, even after he came back at less than 100 percent from the torn ligament in his toe at the end of July, but remains so in the final week of the season.
“I’ve kind of felt that way for a while,” Boone said. “I think the relief is that it’s gone probably as well as it has since he’s come back. The hope was that he would even improve as it’s gone along and I think that’s been the case. That’s what I’ve seen — the way he’s been able to move around the bases and things like that, I think has been a steady improvement the whole time. … That’s what’s been encouraging.
“I think he’s in a pretty good spot heading into the winter.”
Aaron Judge, who did not play, watches the action with DJ LeMahieu during the Yankees’ 2-0 win over the Blue Jays. Getty Images
Judge didn’t play Tuesday, but Boone expected to have him back in there on Wednesday.
The captain has deemed it important to play out the rest of the season though the Yankees have been eliminated from playoff contention. Judge said he wanted to show the younger players on the team that it was important to be in the lineup regularly even when not feeling great.
Since his return from the injured list on July 28, Judge has started 51 of the Yankees’ 57 games, batting .240 with 16 home runs and a .937 OPS.
“He takes a lot of pride in being able to post,” Boone said. “He definitely wants to set that example and I think it’s a great one to set for our younger players.”
Boone said this month that he likely would have rookie Austin Wells catch Gerrit Cole before the season ends, but that is no longer the case.
Ben Rortvedt is expected to catch Cole again on Wednesday when the ace makes his final start and puts the finishing touches on his Cy Young campaign.
“It’s kind of worked out well in that regard because it’s allowed Benny to at least get a start in the rotation of five guys and it’s allowed Austin to play regularly still,” Boone said.
Wells, who hit the game-winning two-run homer in the ninth inning Tuesday, has still been able to develop a relationship with Cole, even if not by catching for him.
“He’s kind of been involved with him a lot,” Boone said. “They’ve hit it off relationally and talking the game, talking pitching and hitting, all those kind of things.”
Frankie Montas, who had surgery on his right shoulder during the offseason, could make his season debut this weekend at Kansas City.
The pending free agent, after making two rehab starts totaling three innings, would likely throw in relief if he does pitch.
“I think he’s worked really hard to get back,” Boone said. “Look, we’re losing guys too to the IL, so you’re trying to find innings in some situations where you need it. If we can carve out a spot … he’d only be able to give us two or three innings in one shot. We’ll see. But we’re looking for some spots for some innings.”