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Aaron Judge ‘taking it day to day’ despite Yankees’ timeline for return

The New York Yankees recently expressed hope that Aaron Judge could return from injury and play as soon as late June, but the slugger attempted to downplay the team’s timeline as he ramps up on-field activities.

Judge began on-field hitting Thursday. Yankees skipper Aaron Boone indicated earlier this week that Judge conceivably could return to the lineup in time for the team’s highly anticipated series against the division-rival Boston Red Sox in London on June 29-30.

Sidelined since suffering an injury on April 20 that was later diagnosed as a strained left oblique, Judge has been expressing understated optimism about his recovery for weeks, but nevertheless stopped short of setting any solid timeline for his return.

“I’m taking it day to day. The minute I start thinking about when I’m going to come back, when I’m going to do that, then my hopes might either go up or down if I get pushed back or something like that,’’ Judge told the Associated Press, via the New York Post. “So I’m just focused on getting better every day.”

The Yankees have impressively navigated a staggering onslaught of injuries this season, setbacks highlighted by Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, among others. Heading into Friday’s game with the Cleveland Indians, the Yankees (39-22) hold a 1.5-game lead on Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East.

Judge acknowledged how the Yankees have continued to roll has made it easier for him not to rush things in his rehabilitation.

“Now it’s just going through the protocols so I can finally get out there,” Judge said. “They haven’t been needing me the past couple weeks, so I’m going to take my time and make sure I get healthy and get ready so I can help them down the road.”