Aaron Judge takes batting practice for first time since toe injury, but he’s still ‘not healed’

Aaron Judge showed signs of injury progress on Friday, participating in warmups for the first time since he suffered a torn toe ligament on June 3 while crashing through an outfield gate at Dodger Stadium.

But the New York Yankees slugger isn’t ready to offer a timeline for his return. Neither is general manager Brian Cashman.

Judge took batting practice at Coors Field as the Yankees warmed up for their first game out of the All-Star break against the Colorado Rockies. He also participated in defensive drills that included jogging in the outfield.

He ran without any noticeable limitations. But he told reporters that the injury isn’t healed and that he’s not sure when he’ll return to playing baseball.

“It’s not healed, so obviously it is what it is,” Judge said, per MLB.com. “But we’re making progress every day. … I’ve got no date. I’ve got nothing for you on that. But you’re asking how I’m feeling and how we’re progressing, and we’re progressing well and getting closer.”

While the activity was encouraging for Yankees fans, rumors that Judge was going to be ready to return shortly after the All-Star break appear to have been just that — rumors. Cashman confirmed to Newsday’s Laura Albanese that Judge’s return is indeed not imminent.

“He hasn’t even had a rehab assignment or run (the) bases,” Cashman told Newsday via text. “There is no clear date for his return, though it’ll be sometime in the second half.”

Aaron Judge is making progress from a toe injury. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Aaron Judge is making progress from a toe injury. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

So it’s a mixed bag of news for a Yankees team desperate for an offensive boost while sitting in a last-place tie with the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. The Yankees have been mired in a hitting slump since Judge’s injury, leading to the dismissal of hitting coach Dillon Lawson before the All-Star break. They’ve since replaced him with broadcaster Sean Casey, who hit .302 over 12 MLB seasons that included three All-Star appearances.

Fortunately for the Yankees, last place in the uber-competitive AL East keeps them in postseason contention. They’re 49-43 after Friday’s 7-2 loss to the Rockies, keeping them 8.5 games back of the first-place Tampa Bay Rays and, perhaps more importantly, in the thick of the wild-card race.

The sooner that Judge is back, the better for the Yankees. Obviously. But for now, his return remains a slow work in progress. Even if there are signs of life.

“I didn’t feel like I was limited at all,” Judge told reporters of his warmups. “We’re slowly progressing to where we need to be. Now, it’s just about getting reps and, maybe, the endurance and stamina. Being off it for five weeks is tough.”