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by: Victor Suarez

Aaron Judge’s right big toe injury was a major setback for the New York Yankees last season, contributing to their postseason drought. Judge missed 42 games after tearing a ligament upon crashing into the right-field wall at Dodger Stadium on June 3rd.

“It’s going to be something I’ll need to manage the rest of my career,” Judge said. “Injuries like this require constant attention to prevent flare-ups.”

Returning on July 28, the affable slugger finished the season with a .262 average, 37 homers, and 75 RBIs in 106 games.

Despite avoiding further injury, Judge acknowledges a need to play smarter defensively. “I thought I had one extra step. It’s a reminder to be more aware of the field’s dimensions,” he admitted. Ironically, this awareness may have factored into his move to center field.

Judge’s record-breaking 62-homer season in 2022 couldn’t prevent a dismal team performance in his absence. The Yankees struggled with a major league-low batting average of .202 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016 – a source of frustration for the team.

“It was a wake-up call,” Judge said. “We looked at each other and knew this couldn’t happen again.”

Now entering his first season as Yankees captain, Judge looks destined for another impressive year. However, both Judge and manager Aaron Boone know individual stats mean little without a championship. “He’s the face of our team and the game,” Boone said. “With good health, he’s on track to rival the greats. Now, we just need a World Series title.”

Judge agrees: “My best season will be when we finally win that trophy.”

Judge’s Ideal Batting Order

Aaron Judge has voiced a strong preference for the number three spot in the lineup. Despite mostly batting second in his career, he believes his power would be best utilized behind new acquisition Juan Soto.

“I may be old school, but the best hitters traditionally bat third,” Judge said on the podcast, “The Mayor’s Office.” With Soto likely to reach base frequently, Judge sees himself as the ideal RBI man.

Boone seems open to the idea, acknowledging Judge’s consistent requests over the years. He may also consider the success Judge had batting leadoff during his 2022 home run chase. Alex Verdugo’s addition brings further flexibility for Boone’s lineup construction.

As the team gathers for Spring Training, it’s clear Judge remains focused on winning that elusive championship.

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