Even with an extended delay of the 2020 MLB season, New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is not expected to play until "summertime," general manager Brian Cashman told reporters Thursday, via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com.
The slugger has been recovering from a cracked rib since March and has been working his way back to the field.
"[Judge] wants to play as much as anybody, and we look forward to getting him back in the lineup," Cashman said, per Brendan Kuty of NJ.com.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone provided an update on the player's status earlier in May:
"This time down has allowed that rib, that bone to continue to heal, and all signs are encouraging there," Boone said.
Despite the optimism, Judge could have a difficult time being ready for the start of the season.
According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, owners have approved a scenario that allows the regular season to begin in early July after delays because of the coronavirus pandemic.
After missing 60 games due to injury in 2019 and 50 games in 2018, any additional absences for Judge could be especially concerning.
When healthy, the 28-year-old has been an elite hitter in his short career, totaling 106 home runs over the past three seasons. He led the American League with 52 home runs in 2017, winning Rookie of the Year in the process while finishing second in MVP voting.
Considering the Yankees' high expectations in 2020, getting Judge back to full strength should be a priority.