Aaron Judge 'pretty sure' he'll be ready for Opening Day after abdominal MRI, but Gerrit Cole might not be so lucky

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge made an unexpected announcement Tuesday: He underwent an MRI the day before after experiencing abdominal discomfort and won't be swinging a bat for the rest of the week.

Judge was given the day off Monday while the Yankees faced the Philadelphia Phillies, but manager Aaron Boone hadn't said anything about Judge having any specific issue. In fact, Boone went out of his way to characterize Judge as being "mid-spring beat up," specifically from the work he has done during spring.

That's not quite how Judge put it.

“I think just from swinging from November all the way until now, every single day, it put some wear and tear on it,” Judge said via Brian Hoch of “Especially coming back after a [right] toe injury when your mechanics are a little messed up and you’re just working on some things."

TAMPA, FLORIDA - MARCH 06: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees takes the field prior to a 2024 Grapefruit League Spring Training game against the Tampa Bay Rays at George M. Steinbrenner Field on March 06, 2024 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Yankees slugger Aaron Judge will take the rest of the week off from swinging a bat after experiencing discomfort in his abdominal area. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) (Julio Aguilar via Getty Images)

No one can blame Yankees fans for hearing alarm bells right now. Judge has had difficulty staying healthy the past several seasons, dealing with injuries to his oblique and toe that cost him quite a bit of time. That he's already dealing with wear and tear doesn't seem like a good omen for the upcoming season, and Boone's apparent lie by omission only makes it seem like the Yankees were trying to hide it.

Judge doesn't seem terribly concerned, though, chalking it up to "being a baseball player every day." He said the tests on his abs came back fine, noting specifically that it wasn't his oblique, and he is "pretty sure" he'll be ready for Opening Day.

"Pretty sure" isn't a phrase that elicits a lot of confidence, but Judge being banged up before Opening Day isn't the Yankees' only problem. Their ace, Gerrit Cole, underwent an MRI on his right elbow Monday after he had trouble bouncing back between spring starts. There was no update on Cole's status Tuesday morning, but Boone said something that felt extremely ominous.

In contrast to Judge, Cole has been healthy since he signed with the Yankees in 2020. He has been a workhorse, making his starts every five days like clockwork and putting up numbers that range from "very good" all the way to "holy cow." Losing Cole for more than a few weeks would mean trouble for the Yankees, something their captain is fully aware of.

“I know he’s not bouncing back the way he is, but that guy’s a perfectionist," Judge said about Cole. "I’m hoping for the best news, even if it’s him being out a couple of weeks. I’ll take that over anything worse. We’re all praying for the best.”