The Yankees kicked off the official start of HOPE Week on The Today Show on Monday morning, sending Gerrit Cole, Aaron Judge and Aaron Boone to share details of the team's annual tribute to difference-makers in the community.
Every week has been "Hope Week" for the Yankees since Judge went down with a nebulous injury return timeline, though, and one month after the initial toe impact, the team's official response has still been mostly finger-crossing.
Will Judge be back in August? He doesn't want to talk about it. Probably? But, if not, nobody wants to be wedded to a lie -- which is, of course, ironic considering the Yankees have already lied about the injury. It's a complete ligament tear (rather than the sprain/partial tear of one ligament or the sprain of two ligaments, as we'd been previously told).
What about after the All-Star break? Seems unlikely, considering how careful the team has to be with their captain's pivot foot, but it's certainly the outcome Cole is currently praying for. When Today's anchors asked Judge about when he'd be back, the right fielder seemed at ease, smiling and saying, "Hopefully soon." Mostly, he appeared thankful that the All-Star Game in Seattle would give him another few days of rest and rehabilitation.
When the interviewer jokingly interpreted that response to mean Judge would be back after the All-Star break, the 6'7" slugger laughed, while Cole put up his hands in prayer.
Gerrit Cole wants Yankees to bring Aaron Judge back after the All-Star break
The Yankees have played under-.500 ball since Judge rammed into the Dodger Stadium wall, but have managed to tread water and remain in the Wild Card race. Pitching? Great! Bullpen? Largely excellent! Offense? N-O-T-H-I-N-G.
If Judge returns, Anthony Volpe keeps up his hot hitting, and the team makes one or two shrewd trade deadline additions, things could turn around somewhat. Based on how cringe-worthy the team's offensive production has been without Judge, though, it's hard to have much ... HOPE for the immediate future, even if he returns in rhythm.
The Yankees have plenty of roster issues to address this summer and this offseason. Any team that looks like the '62 Mets without its offensive centerpiece isn't a finished product. That said, answering Cole's prayers could make things a good deal sunnier. Hopefully, Judge can get himself on track before the summer concludes.
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