Yankees reveal lineup for Aaron Judge's spring training return vs Pirates in primetime

He's back, as promised. After a bunch of broken promises, but still!
MLB Spring Training Game New York Yankees Against Toronto Blue Jays
MLB Spring Training Game New York Yankees Against Toronto Blue Jays / VIEW press/GettyImages

One day after promising that Aaron Judge would be playing in four of the Yankees' final six spring training games, Aaron Boone has made good on one-quarter of that pledge (pending, of course, a last-second pivot, which has only happened seemingly every day for the past week).

Judge's last game action came on Sunday, March 10, when he logged two at-bats against the Braves before he was pulled slightly before his fellow lineup mates. It didn't take Yankee fans' eagle eyes to detect that, at the very least, the team was managing their Captain slightly differently.

Planned half-day or not, Judge was battling something nagging, undergoing an abdominal MRI that came back clean (and took a mental backseat to Gerrit Cole's elbow care). For several consecutive days, Boone and Co. claimed he would return to an on-field batting practice group or receive game reps, only for such things to never materialize.

No harm, no foul, as long as Judge's body wasn't revolting against him in a serious manner. After all, as Anthony Rizzo hilariously quipped in Judge's press scrum, letting your teammates down in Grapefruit League play doesn't matter one iota. Getting ready for the regular season -- whether Judge enters it red hot or ice cold -- is all that's truly important. Judge has more than enough experience bouncing back; he doesn't need to enter the opener in Houston with perfect momentum. All that matters is he does what he can to be on the field.

He took a large first step on Wednesday, slotted into the lineup in the No. 3 hole and playing center field, flanked by many of his fellow starters for the Yankees' showdown with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Yankees Lineup: Aaron Judge returns in center field vs Pittsburgh Pirates

Judge will be joined by several of his likely Opening Day cohorts, with Gleyber Torres crucially replacing a hobbld DJ LeMahieu in the leadoff spot; Anthony Volpe, comfortably, remains in the six hole.

On the mound? Yankees Opening Day starter (JK) Luke Weaver. Can't fully stack the deck, we guess.

Currently, Judge has seven (not six) spring contests left to potentially play in; he'll be staying home while a Yankees split-squad travels to Mexico City to face the Diablos Rojos and a Pitcher Who Must Not Be Named. Judge, 2-for-14 in spring thus far, just needs to show tangible progress in the comfort department, though a home run or two wouldn't be so bad, either.

Both Judge and DJ LeMahieu believe they've accrued enough reps to be able to roll out of bed Opening Day and participate, as long as they're each healthy enough to suit up. Hopefully, Wednesday's step forward isn't followed by two steps back for either integral player.