Aaron Judge Has Stress Fracture in Rib; May Need Surgery

As fun as the 2019 season was, I’d really like to leave it in the past. That does not seem to be possible, though, as yet another Yankee is still dealing with an injury suffered last season. This time, it’s Aaron Judge, who has a stress fracture in his first right rib (Erik Boland). Aaron Boone told the media that Judge will rest for two weeks and then be re-evaluated. At that point, the Yankees will have to consider whether or not he needs surgery. That would mean removing the rib. (Rustin Dodd) Seems bad!

So that does explain why Judge was feeling overall discomfort in the right side of his body. It also explains why examinations of the shoulder and pectoral muscle came up empty. That is about where the explanations end, though. This is a confounding and frustrating injury for Aaron Judge.

First, the team believes that it occurred on a “dive” in September 2019. It’s pretty obvious what play it was just from basic recall: it was almost certainly this one, which occurred on September 18. Check it out:

It’s clear that Judge was in a massive amount of pain following this play. This did not go unnoticed at the time. Says Dan Martin of the Post: “[he] spent the rest of the inning stretching and tending to the arm, although he stayed in the game, grounding out twice the rest of the way. Aaron Boone said he was hopeful Judge was fine.” Oof. I remember it well.

For what it’s worth, if the injury occurred then, it certainly didn’t hamper Judge’s production. He hit .320/.393/.840 with 3 HR in the final 28 plate appearances of the season. He was also, as you surely recall, quite good in the playoff run.

This all very frustrating. September was six months ago now and Aaron Judge is the most important player on the Yankees. I’m no doctor and won’t play one, but it is very frustrating that this was not identified earlier. Oh well, I guess. What can we do? Surgery to remove a rib would likely mean that Judge would miss months, if not the entire season. Seems like our best bet at this point is to hope it doesn’t come to that. Ugh.

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10 Comments

  1. JG (Melky Mesa)

    Our quack doctors are 0/4 this offseason.

    Eddard was always right.

    Fire Ahmad.

  2. RetroRob

    I suspect the issue here is that Judge never rested during the off season, which didn’t give his cracked rib time to heal. He has been resting it for the last few weeks, which may be why they are hopeful another two weeks will heal it more. If it does, they’re likely be convinced additional rest is all he needs. If it doesn’t, then they’ll go the surgery route. Let’s hope the healing works, because surgery could mean a couple months out, another month or prep. We won’t see Judge until post the All-Star Game.

    What’s distressing is that the Yankees medical staff either didn’t check back in on him, or they did and Judge didn’t tell him it was still bothering him. I had a ski accident over ten years back. Hurt my hip, never went to the doctor. It mostly healed although I could still feel some pain depening on how I moved. When I finally went in for a physical and told my doctor about it, he said I wished you had come in sooner. We could have done some physical therapy and exercises to resolve the issue. Now, the only solution was surgery. That’s why I mention it. The very act of not checking in on Judge, or Judge not being honest, could be the reason he’ll require surgery.

    In fairness to the Yankees here, this tweet from Jerry Hairston Jr. indicates this is a difficult thing to diagnose. He had the exact same issue, took over a year to figure it out. Once they did and he rested, he was fine.

    https://twitter.com/TheRealJHair/status/1236316160494391296

  3. chip56

    I think this should put to rest the question of whether the Yankees should extend Judge.

  4. Mungo

    Sigh.

    Seems like there can be some shared blame here, but I blame Judge more than anyone. He was still feeling this pain in November but thought it would be ok eventually. He should have informed the Yankees he was still having issues. He’s the type to play through pain, but players need to understand they are impacting the team by not revealing issues like this.

    He hit well in the regular season and ok in the postseason post this injury, so maybe it’s something he can play though until it’s completely recovered.

    Frustrating. The injuries of 2019 never seem to end.

  5. Rob

    Um, if the rib hasn’t fully healed in 6 months, why do a wait-and-see? Remove the rib and he’ll be back in a few months. I had part of a rib removed and I was fine after a month or so.

    • Dani

      Fractured ribs can take months to heal and Judge very likely was working out over the winter which would do a broken rib no favor. I mean we don’t know how bad it is. Obviously it’s bad enough that they consider removing the rib.

      Anyway, they have scans now and they’ll scan it again in 2 weeks. They’ll see if it’s healing on its own or not. One way or another, seems like Judge will miss quite some time, I hope he’s back for the 2nd half of the season.

      The frustrating thing here once again is that a player has been injured a long time ago without anyone knowing or knowing to what extent. Something is going very wrong here and this is one of the things the Yanks have to figure out quickly.

  6. Charlie

    It’s reached the point where the Yankees shouldn’t factor on Judge to be a mainstay. Outside of 2017 he hasn’t proven he can stay healthy in the major leagues.

    There may be something to the school of thought the he (like El Gary) is too big to be a regular MLB player.

    They proved they could win without him during his time on the IL last year. Treat any production they get from him as an added bonus.

  7. John West

    Dude. 4th best team? Let’s take a deep breath. The injuries suck but they are still a good team and still favs out of the east. Ray’s did nothing except trade away possibly their best position player in Tommy Pham. Toronto got stronger but are still short a pitcher or two to be real contenders. Boston just traded away their best player and 2nd/3rd best pitcher for a sack of beans and Sale is probably looking at TJS sooner rather than later. And Baltimore couldn’t contend with most of the AAA teams out there. Even if none of their injured players come back this year not winning the east would be a shock.

  8. BillyMartinVanBuren Boys

    Anyone have any idea if removing the rib will mean a faster recovery time then waiting for a broken rib to heal?? I know fractured ribs can take a long time. Why else remove it?

  9. Zach

    Frankly, if the NY media had any guts this would be a national scandal. The mismanagement by the medical staff and Cashman’s refusal to do anything about it are like nothing I’ve ever seen. The Yankees have gone from solid AL favorites to possibly the fourth best team in their own division because of injuries that the team knew about LAST YEAR and ignored! Just infuriating.

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