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Yankees’ Judge has RBI double in return from abdominal injury and Stanton hits 3 home runs

 The Associated Press  |    Mar 20th, 2024 12:09pm EDT

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Aaron Judge had an RBI double in his first at-bat in Wednesday night’s game against Pittsburgh after sitting out nine days with an abdominal injury, and fellow New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton hit three home runs with eight RBIs in a 12-0 win over the Pirates.

Judge hadn’t played since March 10, when he struck out in both at-bats against Atlanta. He hit a 106.4 mph liner to right center in the first inning that drove in Juan Soto. Judge scored when Stanton hit a 455-foot homer that cleared the batter’s eye in straightaway center field, the first of his three home runs against left-hander Marco Gonzales.

“I’m feeling good,” Judge said. “Just excited to get back in there and get a couple of bats, a couple swings and a couple tough balls in the field.”

Judge had an eight-pitch walk in the second and Stanton followed with a 453-foot grand slam. Stanton added a solo homer in the fourth, a 426-foot solo drive to center, and a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

“It is spring, but yeah, I haven’t hit three before. so it’s cool,” Stanton said. “It’s going to be erased in about a week.”

Judge called the homers impressive.

“I didn’t give him enough credit, I was tagging up on a couple of them.,” Judge said with a smile. “He got a little mad at me about that, so I won’t do that again. I’ll make sure I’m jogging.”

A slimmed-down Stanton has battled injuries and has not played a full season since 2018, the first year after New York acquired him from Miami. He missed 266 of 708 games in the past five seasons

“I feel he’s looked pretty good all spring even from the start,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I feel like he’s been in control of his at bats, and tonight he was really precise and when he’s like that he’ pretty scary.”

Judge played four innings in center field, as planned, and made a nice catch moving back toward the fence on Jack Suwinski’s fourth-inning liner. He was pinch-hit for in the bottom of the fourth.

Judge started feeling discomfort with his abdomen during his swing’s follow-through a couple weeks ago.

“Excited to get him going,” Boone said.

Judge is scheduled to play three more times in the Yankees’ last five spring training games in Florida.

Judge missed 42 games last season with a torn ligament in his right big toe, an injury sustained when he ran into Dodger Stadium’s right-field fence on June 3. He has said the toe is feeling great.

Third baseman DJ LeMahieu, who fouled a ball hard off his right foot on Saturday, remained out of the lineup with a bone bruise.

“Trying to get the swelling out first and foremost, and doing as much as I can,” LeMahieu said. “I can already tell a difference in three or four days. A lot of improvements.”

LeMahieu said the foot is still sore when he walks, and is undergoing daily treatment. He could resume swinging a bat in a couple days and is hopeful of being ready for the opener on March 28 at Houston.

“I’ve had a good spring training,” LeMahieu said. “I’ve had plenty of at-bats. I’m pretty much ready already, so that’s definitely my goal.”

Boone said the next couple days will determined if LeMahieu will face the Astros and added that the infielder will be not be rushed.

“This is not something he’s going to play through,” Boone said. “The good news is it’s a bruise, so we just let it get right. If that means he’s back the first day or whatever, we’re going to listen to it. He’s in good a spot with all that he’s done this winter, in the spring physically to go do something and potentially compromise something.”

LeMahieu was slowed the past couple seasons by a right toe injury.

“The last thing I want to do is something stupid,” LeMahieu said. “That has been made very clear.”

If LeMahieu is sidelined to start the season, Boone said Alex Verdugo would move into the leadoff spot against right-hander’s and Gleyber Torres will get time when facing left-handed starters. Oswald Cabrera could fill in at third.

New York found out last week that ace Gerrit Cole won’t throw for three to four weeks due to nerve irritation and edema in his throwing elbow. The right-hander will need a spring training-like period after he resumes throwing and is not expected back until late May at the earliest.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb