New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman believes slugger Aaron Judge will be available at "full capacity" when the MLB season starts following the coronavirus pandemic.
Judge was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his first right rib in early March, an injury the Yankees believed dated back to an attempted catch on September 18.
The two-time All-Star received pain-killing injections and played through the postseason, batting .265 (9-for-34) with one home run and two RBIs in nine games.
Judge reported pain in his right shoulder and pectoral muscle just before spring training began and it was later revealed that he had since recovered from a collapsed lung.
He has undergone several CT scans that have revealed evidence of improvement, which is positive news as the Yankees hope to avoid surgery, which could include removing the rib.
With the MLB season on hold due to COVID-19, Cashman said on Thursday: "We've had some multiple reimaging that shows the healing, and we'll continue that process that will hopefully continue to show that expected healing moving forward.
"Once we resume play, we're excited and believe that he's going to re-join us at full capacity. Fortunately for him, he's been able to take advantage of this COVID experience, but he wants to play as much as anybody, and we look forward to getting him back in the line-up."
Cashman also said the Yankees did not expect Judge to return from a fractured right rib until the summer months in the United States before the season was put on hold.
Judge originally said he was optimistic that he would be ready for the March 26 opener against the Baltimore Orioles, but Cashman admitted the team's private estimates were less aggressive.
"When it happened, I always felt that we wouldn’t see Judge likely until the summertime," Cashman said on a Zoom call to benefit the Family Centers' Emergency Family Assistance Fund.
"But Aaron Judge – like most superstar athletes, they're invincible and they feel like they'll be back sooner than later."
Judge has batted .273 with 110 homers and 246 RBIs in 396 career games but has dealt with various injuries the past two seasons.
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