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Aaron Judge to injured list with toe injury

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NEW YORK — On an evening where it looked like darkness had descended upon the Bronx well before the sun set, the Yankees received disappointing injury news that surely dampened the mood around their clubhouse. Slugger Aaron Judge and left-hander Nestor Cortes will both be placed on the injured list, manager Aaron Boone announced after the team’s 3-2 loss to the White Sox in the Bronx on Tuesday night.

Judge has a contusion and a sprain of the ligament in his right big toe, and he received a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) shot in the toe Tuesday evening. Prior to the loss, Boone shared that Judge was doing a little better before his evaluation with Dr. Christopher Ahmad. He suffered the ailment after running into the fence on a highlight-reel catch at Dodger Stadium on Saturday. Judge was out of the lineup for two straight games after the collision and received X-ray imaging on Monday.

“The biggest thing now is trying to get the swelling out of there,” said Boone. “He saw improvements today, but now we’re just trying to see where we are in the coming weeks or days.”

Boone said that Judge’s X-rays came back negative, with no breaks or fractures in the big toe. That was a slight moment of optimism from Boone, but the sobering reality of a life without Judge in the Yankees’ lineup was still present.

“I think it definitely could have been worse,” said Boone. “I feel like he’s going to be all right, just needs some time now. Hopefully, it’s on the shorter side of things, but the biggest thing is getting the swelling out of there. Look, any time you lose Aaron Judge for any amount of time and he goes on the IL — hopefully it’s a short one — you don’t like that.”

The reigning American League home run champion had been heating up of late, and any extended absence will be a blow to the Bronx Bombers. In 49 games, Judge is hitting .291/.404/.674 with an AL-leading 19 home runs.

This is Judge’s second stint on the IL this season after missing 10 games due to a right hip strain. Still, on the heels of his historic AL MVP season in 2022, Judge has largely matched his per-game pace in ‘23.

The entire Yankees team understands the weight that Judge’s presence carries, not only at the plate but in the clubhouse as well.

“Can’t replace that guy,” said Josh Donaldson, who homered in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s loss. “From a leadership standpoint [or] from a playing standpoint. We’re just really going to have to come together as a team and grind out at-bats, play good defense, pitch the ball well, and hopefully you keep winning ballgames until he gets back.”

Clarke Schmidt, who started Tuesday’s loss, echoed those sentiments.

“Everybody knows how impactful he is as a player — in our lineup, on defense and in the locker room,” Schmidt said after the game. “I think more importantly, he’s just such a presence for us. Obviously, he’s the captain. He’s a great leader. It’s a tough blow.”

On the pitching side, Cortes was already expected to be placed on the IL with a minor shoulder strain after experiencing “achiness” in his pitching arm between starts. The southpaw received a cortisone injection on Tuesday to begin the rehab process and won’t throw for at least 10 days.

Cortes shared more specifics regarding the shoulder soreness that led him to go to team doctors in the first place after his last start in Seattle.

“During the start, it wasn’t bothering me,” Cortes said following Tuesday’s game. “It was just the recovery in-between where it would take a little bit longer than usual to get right.

“It just got harder to get ‘non-sore.’ After Seattle — I usually don’t throw the day after I pitch, so I took that day off and then we had an off-day. When I got to L.A. and threw that first day, it didn’t feel right. … That second day in L.A. was when I said something, because it felt like I had just pitched yesterday. So, I wasn’t recovering on time.”

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