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Aaron Judge returns to lineup Saturday vs. Rays [UPDATE]

Yankees slugger avoided a IL stint and is back in the order hitting second against Tampa Bay in Game 2 of their series.

New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge reacts after hitting a solo home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the fourth inning at Yankee Stadium. Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Update: April 10, 11:15 a.m. — Judge is back in the lineup for Saturday’s game vs. the Rays batting second, his usual spot. He had missed two straight games due to soreness in his side and it was looking like a stint on the injured list was likely. Instead, the Yankees will get their MVP candidate back after a rough 10-5 loss to open the series. 3B Gio Urshela is also back in the lineup after sitting Friday with post-vaccine symptoms.

Update: April 9, 1:16 p.m. — Judge is not in the lineup Friday with the Yanks set to begin a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays down in Florida. This will be the second straight game Judge will miss due to soreness in his side. Boone hinted at Judge sitting again after Wednesday’s loss in extra innings. The Yankees want to make sure Judge is right before he returns to the lineup. Judge could also land on the injured list.

The Yanks are mixing up the lineup again. On Wednesday, Gleyber Torres hit second, but he’ll drop back to cleanup. Stanton will jump up and bat second, where Judge normally hits. Mike Tauchman is in the lineup with Brett Gardner heading back to the bench. This is likely with veteran LHP Rich Hill on the mound for the Rays.

Update: April 7, 10:54 p.m. — After the Yankees’ tough 4-3 loss to the O’s in extra innings on Wednesday, Boone told reporters that he wasn’t comfortable using Judge as a pinch-hitter late in the game. Boone basically said he wasn’t sure if Judge would be in the lineup Friday vs. the Rays. So this sounds like Boone was downplaying the injury earlier in the day. We’ll see if Judge ends up being in the lineup on Friday but for now we need to at least be prepared for him to sit again.

New York Yankees OF Aaron Judge is sitting out of Wednesday’s lineup vs. the Baltimore Orioles. We all assumed it was just a scheduled off day for the slugger with the Yankees off on Thursday. This would give Judge an extra day of rest before the Bronx Bombers start a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays down in Florida. Now, we’re seeing that Judge is dealing with some “soreness” in his side, per manager Aaron Boone.

Judge should be fine for Friday’s matchup with the Rays. It’s worth noting that he’s feeling sore and we’re only a week into the 2021 MLB season. Judge has a long history of injuries and his oblique has been an issue in the past. Fortunately, the Yankees have always had the depth to sustain injuries to players in the middle of the batting order. Gleyber Torres will move up to the 2-hole on Wednesday vs. the Orioles with Aaron Hicks batting third in front of Giancarlo Stanton.

Clint Frazier will take over in RF for Judge while Brett Gardner will stick in the lineup in LF with Hicks in center. At $4,500, Frazier is an interesting DFS option on DraftKings. Torres is only $200 more than Frazier and owns the Orioles in his career with 16 HRs in 39 games. Both players are decent mid-range options if you’re looking to stack the Yanks against John Means.

Judge being out of the lineup shouldn’t make you overthink the ML for the Yankees, which is -200 on DraftKings Sportsbook. New York is starting Jameson Taillon in his team debut and first action since 2019. Judge being out of the lineup makes things a bit easier on Means, but not by much since Gary Sanchez and Frazier are back in there.