Judge, who slumped for most of the second half last year, underwent surgery on his left shoulder this winter. Many believe he may have aggravated the shoulder during the competition last July, in which he launched an astonishing 47 homers. According to Sweeny Murti of WFAN, it appears as if Judge all but confirmed that speculation:
Judge said “the Derby didn’t really have an effect” on his 2nd half, but asked another way if the Derby is what hurt his shoulder Judge replied “I’d rather not say.”
“We’re right on track. I feel good, the shoulder’s been feeling good. When I first got down here there was still a little soreness left in there, but this past week especially it’s been pain free, no soreness, feeling great.”—Aaron Judge, 3 weeks before Opening Day.
The Yankees have taken it slow with Judge this spring, easing him back into game action. With Giancarlo Stanton, the organization can use the DH as a landing spot for Judge, and others, during the season, giving guys extra rest in order to keep them healthy.
While Judge in the Home Run Derby would be must-see-tv, Yankees fans would much rather see him be a spectator. He has nothing left to prove in the competition, and his longterm health is more important.