As the New York Yankees get ready to begin spring training on Wednesday in anticipation of the 2020 regular season starting on July 23 or 24, one question left to be answered is the status of All-Star outfielder Aaron Judge.
Judge was unable to take part in on-field batting practice or games during the original spring training because of a stress fracture in his first right rib.
Now, less than one month before the season begins, there's potentially some good news for the Yankees as they hope to have Judge in their lineup.
One person who saw Judge swinging told Boland he "didn't seem to be holding anything back."
The Yankees have been coy about Judge's recovery since he was diagnosed with the fractured rib. General manager Brian Cashman didn't provide much insight during a May press conference, though there was a practical reason for that.
"Ultimately, the broken rib that Aaron Judge suffered, it's in an area that the blood flow to that region is more difficult," he said. "Blood flow is a significant part of the healing, so that's why the time frame is longer. When it happened, I always felt that we wouldn't see Judge more likely until the summertime."
Cashman did note the team's expectation was that Judge would be back at some point this summer. Injuries have limited the 2017 American League Rookie of the Year for the past two seasons. He's only played 214 of a possible 324 games since the start of 2018.
When Judge has been able to play in the previous two years, he's looked terrific, with a .276/.387/.534 slash line and 54 home runs in 791 at-bats.
Adding a fully-healthy Judge to a lineup that also features Gary Sanchez, DJ LeMahieu, Gio Urshela, Gleyber Torres and Giancarlo Stanton will make a dangerous Yankees offense even more imposing for opposing pitchers.
The pitching staff figures to be much-improved thanks to the addition of Gerrit Cole. He will lead a rotation that also includes James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and J.A. Happ.
When the Yankees report to camp next week, all eyes will be focused on whether Judge is taking swings in live batting practice.