SEATTLE — One day after hitting off a tee and in a toss drill outdoors, Aaron Judge took batting practice against live pitching inside before the Yankees faced the Mariners on Saturday at Safeco Field.
It is the first time Judge has taken live BP since going on the DL in late July with a fractured right wrist.
“He was hitting in the cage today,’’ Aaron Boone said of Judge’s program. “Another step forward for him.’’
Judge was on the field taking ground balls and fly balls in right field, throwing a football with third-base coach Phil Nevin and playing catch with first-base coach Reggie Willits.
With Judge graduating to live BP, the next step toward returning from the DL will be BP on the field, which could come as soon as Monday in Minneapolis. Providing there are no problems with the wrist, Judge would then move on to face live pitching, which will be more intense than batting practice.
According to Boone, Aroldis Chapman’s throwing program is progressing.
“He played catch [Friday] after a day off and he is up to 90 feet,’’ Boone said of the All-Star closer who has been on the DL since Aug. 22 with tendinitis in the left knee.
After entering Friday night’s 4-0 win in the sixth inning, Didi Gregorius was in the starting lineup for Saturday evening’s game. It was Gregorius’ first start since suffering a bruised left heel on Aug. 19 when he collided with Blue Jays first baseman Kendrys Morales.
“Six-ish, that would be kind of the plan,’’ Boone said when asked how many innings Gregorius would play. “I wouldn’t expect him to play the whole game. He responded well.’’
Following the win in which Gregorius went 0-for-1, he said he was ready to go and play a full game.
“Anytime you have a player the caliber of Didi, it’s hard to keep him out,’’ Boone said.
“Obviously we missed him when he was gone and excited to have him back. We also want to be smart about how we bring him back.’’
Gary Sanchez wasn’t going to catch Saturday night’s game and come back for Sunday’s matinee so Boone paired Austin Romine with Lance Lynn on Saturday and will match Sanchez with CC Sabathia on Sunday.
“Day game after a night game so I chose one of the two,’’ Boone said of not wanting to use Sanchez for both games.
After Sanchez’s nightmarish first inning in Oakland on Wednesday night when he was charged with two passed balls and failed to block two wild pitches from Luis Severino, the catcher turned in a clean game working with Masahiro Tanaka Friday night.
“I am proud of him bouncing back. That’s one of the things I talked to him, like keep going,’’ Boone said of Sanchez, who is tied with the Astros’ Martin Maldonado for the MLB lead in passed balls with 13. He is 10th in wild pitches with 37. The A’s Jonathan Lucroy leads with 57. “I thought he did a good job of turning the page from that first inning in Oakland the other night. I thought the rest of the night was solid. He was really good [Friday night] and on a good page with [Tanaka] where they worked really well together for the second time in a row and no question Gary had a hand in that.’’
Working well with Tanaka might be Sanchez’s best route to being behind the plate in the AL wild-card game because Tanaka is a strong candidate to start that game.
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