Aaron Judge's path to the New York Yankees' Opening Day lineup has been sidetracked in the last two days.
The 28-year-old outfielder recovered from a stress fracture in his rib during the layoff, but now he is on the trainer's table with a stiff neck.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone told MLB.com's Bryan Hoch that the Yankees did not want to push Judge since he has received plenty of at-bats during summer camp.
"He's getting a little more work; he's still a little stiff," Boone said. "It's just something that obviously we don't want to push at this point. I feel like he's been able to get a lot of work in and a lot of at-bats to this point, so we just thought it was better to not push it."
Judge's health will be critical to the Yankees' success during the 60-game season. His power would make the batting order more imposing to opposing hurlers and it could change games in one swing.
He hit 27 home runs in each of the last two seasons, but he also missed 50 games in both campaigns. In 155 games in 2017, he mashed 52 long balls. He has feasted on American League East pitching in his four-year career, with at least 10 home runs and 20 RBI versus all four divisional foes.
Judge has had the most success against the Toronto Blue Jays. He has 18 home runs, 36 RBI and a .330 batting average in 182 at-bats.
If he can't play some games in the outfield, he could alternate with Giancarlo Stanton at designated hitter.
Stanton has not started in the field yet during New York's scrimmages at Yankee Stadium, but he feels progress is being made physically, per Hoch.
"The progress back has been good," he said. "I'm good again and getting everything I need to be ready. ... I've been [taking fly balls] in BP. It's better to be in a controlled setting right now, especially while pitchers are trying to get their work in."
The 30-year-old is also aiming for a bounce-back season after participating in 18 games during the 2019 campaign.
Dexter Fowler 'Day to Day' With Back Tightness
Dexter Fowler missed out on the St. Louis Cardinals' Saturday scrimmage due to back tightness.
St. Louis manager Mike Shildt noted the 34-year-old would not return until Tuesday at the earliest after sitting out Sunday and a scheduled day off Monday, but he is not concerned about the outfielder's long-term health, per MLB.com's Anne Rogers.
"Nothing to be overly concerned about," he said. "He's going to be day to day. Obviously not going to push it."
Fowler's 2019 campaign was much more successful than his first year in St. Louis, as he produced 19 home runs, 67 RBI and a .754 OPS in 150 games.
With Marcell Ozuna now in Atlanta, Fowler will be one of a few players tasked with replacing his power in the heart of the order. He should be more than prepared to deal with National League Central pitching from his time with the Cardinals and Chicago Cubs.
He may also provide a boost from the start of the 60-game campaign since he has posted his best offensive splits in August.
Baltimore 'Interested' In Yasiel Puig
According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, "the Orioles are interested in signing Yasiel Puig."
The 29-year-old did not sign with a team before spring training after he split the 2019 season between the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland.
Baltimore is dealing with an outfield shortage at the moment. Trey Mancini is recovering from treatment for Stage 3 colon cancer, and Anthony Santander and Dwight Smith Jr. have not appeared at summer camp yet, per MLB.com's Joe Trezza.
Puig flashed home run power in Cincinnati, but his long-ball production dropped off when he was shipped to Cleveland.
However, the Cuban outfielder did post 15 doubles in each location and hit .297 with an .800 OPS in 49 games with Cleveland.
Baltimore may not be the ideal destination for Puig since it is not expected to contend with the Yankees and others in the AL East, but it could provide him with the best chance of playing time, which could give him exposure to earn a contract elsewhere in 2021.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90
Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference