Aaron Judge, Yankees avoid catastrophic injury after slugger hit in hand by pitch

NEW YORK — Drilled in his left hand by a pitch Tuesday night, New York Yankees superstar Aaron Judge dodged a significant injury.

"A big relief," Judge said following the Yankees' 4-2 win against the Baltimore Orioles, after X-rays and a CT scan came back negative.

Judge is dealing with some residual swelling, but he hopes to be in Wednesday night's lineup when ace Gerrit Cole makes his long-awaited 2024 debut in the Yankees' rotation following elbow nerve irritation.

Following preliminary X-rays at Yankee Stadium, Judge was sent for further testing at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and was examined by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad.

Leading off the third inning, Judge took a 94-mph 2-2 fastball off the side of his hand by Orioles right-handed starter Albert Suarez.

In obvious pain, Judge gripped his left hand with his right, wincing as he slowly made his way to first base, idling for a time on the infield grass between home plate and the mound.

The Yankees captain would eventually score on a Giancarlo Stanton single during a two-run inning that also included Ben Rice's first big-league hit, a sharp single to right in his second at-bat.

Judge played center field in the top of the fourth inning but was lifted for pinch-hitter Trent Grisham in the bottom of the inning, with the Yankees leading 3-0.

"Anytime you get hit by 94-95 (mph) up and in like that, especially in the hands where there’s so many small bones, you just never know what's going to happen," Judge said. "Getting that good news is a good thing."

New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Judge (99) is hit by a pitch during the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Judge (99) is hit by a pitch during the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium.

Before he was pinch-hit for, Judge was still hoping to continue playing.

"I wanted to hit," said Judge, who singled in his first at-bat. "I was down in the cage, trying to swing but I really couldn’t at the time."

Entering this series between the AL East leading Yankees and the second-place Orioles, now 2.5 games behind the Yanks, Judge had been on a massive stretch – batting .374 with 22 homers and 51 RBI in 46 games since April 27.

After Gleyber Torres was struck in the right hand by a Keegan Akin pitch in the fifth, Yankees starter Nestor Cortes came up and in against Orioles star Gunnar Henderson in the sixth, knocking him off the plate.

The Orioles' next batter, Anthony Santander, had to avoid a pitch at his knees that got past catcher Austin Wells and was scored a passed ball.

Stanton glared at Akin in the sixth, after a high-and-tight pitch – adding to some of the tense atmosphere since Judge's departure.

MLB's home run leader with 26, Judge missed 45 games in 2018, when he was struck by a pitch on July 26 that caused a chip fracture to his right wrist.

Last season, Judge missed 42 games after suffering torn ligaments to his right big toe after he slammed into the outfield wall at Dodger Stadium on June 3.

It was already a rough Tuesday for the Yankees, who placed Anthony Rizzo and pitchers Cody Poteet and Ian Hamilton on the injured list. Rizzo, with a fractured right forearm, will be lost for eight weeks.

This article originally appeared on Aaron Judge injury: Yankees slugger gets good news after hit by pitch