Aaron Judge sparks irrational injury fears with early exit vs Braves

Mar 10, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA;New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) signs autographs
Mar 10, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA;New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) signs autographs / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Did Aaron Judge's toe issue -- which, reportedly, needs constant maintenance -- force him from Sunday's Yankees spring showcase against the Atlanta Braves slightly ahead of schedule? Or was Aaron Boone just swayed by the Captain's pair of sleepy at-bats against AJ Smith-Shawver to get him off the field one at-bat sooner than the rest of his fellow starters?

The Yankees' offense, led by Juan Soto's three-run shot, woke up against Atlanta in the fourth frame. Instead of getting a third chance to put bat on ball, though, Judge was removed after two at-bats and two strikeouts.

Spring training is just about getting reps in for a player like Judge, as well as readjusting to the grind after months away from game action. Throw the numbers out the window, even if they're not indicative of one of the game's foremost superstars, at this point.

Like Carlos Rodón taking a little extra off his fastball to work on his cutter, there's nothing wrong with pulling Judge early. Who wants to use up all your bullets in March? Unfortunately for the Yankees, they've reached a level of injury mistrust where they kind of, sort of have to tell the fans what's happening at all times, lest they freak out.

Yankees star Aaron Judge exits vs Braves after two spring training at-bats

Silence is, in fact, not golden.

The best time for Judge and other Yankees stars to get injured is, obviously, never. The second-best? Early enough in camp where they have enough time to shake off minor maladies before Opening Day -- like Jose Trevino, who returned and homered on Sunday.

But, after being told Judge's toe -- which, to be fair, didn't affect him much in last year's sterling second-half return -- could become a chronic issue, as feared, it's a concern for the aggrieved fan base every time he takes his foot off the gas pedal. Yes, even in exhibition play.

According to Boone (and Judge) after the game, two at-bats was always the plan; "I'm good with two," Judge reportedly told his manager before the contest. He was probably a little better with two after experiencing Smith-Shawver's stuff. For now, fans should choose to believe both parties.