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The return of Aaron Judge creates an inevitable Yankees dilemma



Aaron Judge’s return from the injured list made the field right against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night because the Yankees didn’t activate him not to play when every inning counts in a very strange season.

Aaron Boone chose between a very prolific Clint Frazier, a right-handed man who turned himself into the third best player in the Yankees, and left-handed Brett Gardner in left field. Boone could have gone with his left swinger, Mike Tauchman, too.

Boone went with Frazier, who came into play with an OPS of 1.090 and a base percentage of 0.440 for the last six games, against Gardner and Tauchman, who were deeply submerged. Based on where Gardner, who was a mentor to Frazier, and Tauchman were and how well Frazer swung the bat and played defense, it couldn̵

7;t be that difficult for Boone, whose club was trying to extend a six-game winning streak.

Gardner hit .185 (20 for 108) in 41 games and Tauchman had beaten .156 (5 for 32) in the last 14 games.

Aaron Judge (l) and Clint Frazier
Aaron Judge (l) and Clint FrazierPaul J. Bereswill

Not only was Frazier a hit order differentiator, his play on the right field is eons away from what it was last year when flyballs and groundballs were adventure. This recently had to do with the concussion in 2018.

While Boone spoke of Gardner and Tauchman “defensively being game changers,” he praised Frazier’s improvement.

“Loved what we see of Clint. His athleticism really shows in the outfield for him, ”Boone said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to build him on what has been a really nice run for him.”

While the Yankees’ job is to prepare the judge for the postseason, they also have to make up for not re-injuring the right calf, which had confined him to one game since Aug. 12. Boone said the judge was not on the lineup Wednesday. That said, Frazier will likely move from left to right.

Though Boone raved about Frazier’s defense, it won’t come as a shock if the manager picks up Frazier on defense in the late innings of games where the Yankees have a lead.

“Possibly,” Boone said of using Gardner or Tauchman to protect a leash. “With Clint walking to left and left fields in our stadium and all over the floor [Gardner and Tauchman] play it so well out there, kind of a game changer that’s defensive for us out there. ”

For far too much of Boone’s three-year tenure, he hasn’t been able to put the judge’s name on a line-up card as many times as he would like. Understandably, it got Boone’s juices flowing, putting Judge in second place between MVP candidate DJ LeMahieu and switching Aaron Hicks, whose base percentage of 0.374 helps offset a disappointing batting average of 0.209.

“Much excitement just to see him come in [Wednesday] and see how it all went [Tuesday at the alternate site]It’s great to put him back on the line-up, ”said Boone, who stated he didn’t think much about leaving Luke Voit, who led the majors with 18 homers, in second place, which is the judge’s home. “Come through today and start building these people [Giancarlo Stanton and Judge] and be much closer to being whole. ”

Where Gardner fits, Boone wasn’t ready to count the 37-year-old.

“I feel like he’s been starting to get it started a bit in the last few weeks. The results don’t necessarily match what we’ve seen on some of the underlying things he’s done, ”Boone said of Gardner, who scored 4 to 11 (.364) with a base percentage of .533 in the previous five games . “There will be opportunities on the track. A lot can change in three weeks between now and next week. He’s a very important player for us and I expect it will stay that way. ”


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