By MIKE FITZPATRICK, AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Judge, please be seated.
The slumping slugger is getting a couple of days off, and the New York Yankees hope the rest will help him find his swing.
“Try to refresh him and get him going. He’s played in a lot of games,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He never wants to sit.”
Judge was out of the lineup Monday night as the Yankees faced 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians in the opener of a three-game series. Aaron Hicks played right field in Judge’s place.
Girardi said Judge probably will also sit out Tuesday night, and the plan is to avoid even using him off the bench.
“I told him today, ‘Just take today off. Just take today off and rest your body.’ I think that’s important. And then we’ll get back to work,” Girardi said. “I just want him just to take a mental day and a physical day and just rest. Just rest. He hasn’t had many of those days and I think in the long run this is going to help us.”
Judge leads the American League with 37 home runs and a .581 slugging percentage, but has tailed off dramatically since winning the Home Run Derby during the All-Star break. The big rookie is batting .179 with seven homers and 16 RBIs in the second half, dropping his overall average 49 points to .280.
“I just thought that he’s been missing some pitches that he usually was hitting in the first half, and sometimes just a couple days away can refresh a guy and get him back on track,” Girardi said. “It’s not what you really want to do. We’ve tried a lot of different other things, and so we’re going to try this.”
Judge has struck out a major league-high 174 times and recently whiffed in a record 37 consecutive games, a streak that ended last Tuesday in Detroit.
He went 1 for 3 with a double and two walks in Sunday’s 10-1 victory over Seattle, but has only two hits in his last 18 at-bats. And although the Yankees are playing a potential playoff opponent in AL Central-leading Cleveland, they certainly want Judge in peak form for a four-game series against rival Boston beginning Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.
After a 6-2 loss Monday night, New York dropped 3½ games behind the first-place Red Sox in the AL East.
Judge has been receiving treatment on his left shoulder, but Girardi said the outfielder told him he doesn’t think that’s contributed to his struggles at the plate.
“I think at this time all players are a little bit beat up, but no, I just feel like it might be time to give him a couple days,” Girardi explained. “He’s a tough kid and he wants to be out there every day for his team. So I’m figuring the rest will probably help all of his body, and that’s why I’m choosing to do it.”
Judge also was leading the AL with 96 walks and ranked second with a .412 on-base percentage. He had scored 97 runs, most in the league.
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