Yanks' Stanton, Judge enter final phase of rehab

CHICAGO -- The New York Yankees' biggest reinforcements are almost back.

Injured sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are beginning the last phase of their respective rehab assignments this weekend, the team announced Friday.

Both outfielders were in the lineup for the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which fell 16-3 to the host Durham Bulls in the opener of a three-game series on Friday night. Judge, who led off and served as the designated hitter, went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Stanton, who batted after him and played right field, went 1-for-3 with a three-run homer off a building behind the left-field wall in the third.

"They're at a point where they're doing well, and obviously they've got to get through these final steps and hurdles, and rack up some time here," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "But [we're] starting a plan and getting excited for them hopefully joining us at some point on the homestand."

Following their series at the Chicago White Sox this weekend, the Yankees return home Monday for a 10-game homestand against the Rays, Astros and Blue Jays that will immediately precede their trip to London to face the Red Sox.

Boone reiterated Friday that Stanton probably would spend the full series with the RailRiders before getting an off day Monday and then be inserted into the Bronx Bombers' lineup against Tampa Bay on Tuesday. Judge, meanwhile, probably will be looking at a slightly longer stint with the RailRiders, Boone said.

"We'll want him to get out there and get some back-to-back games where he's on defense," Boone said about Judge. "It's more about building up that in-baseball-shape sort of thing, whereas Giancarlo is a little further along there.

"But feel really good about physically where Aaron's at right now."

The Yankees have missed both power hitters since April, when they were lost along with several others as an early season injury bug ravaged the roster. In all, 20 players have been on the Yankees' injured list since spring training, with only six having returned. Currently, 14 players are on the Yankees' IL, including Stanton and Judge.

Stanton has played in only three games this season, going on the IL on April 1 because of a left biceps strain. He's batting .250 (2-for-8) with no homers, no RBIs and one run scored this season. Nearly a month into his rehab stint, the biceps injury improved, but Stanton was suddenly afflicted with a left shoulder injury.

He eventually got over that shoulder issue. But while he was participating in a live batting practice session last month at the Yankees' complex in Tampa, Stanton was hit by a pitch around his left knee/calf. The hit-by-pitch left him with a calf strain that he has been rehabbing for nearly the past month. Boone indicated that he has healed from that.

Judge went on the IL on April 21 after suffering a left oblique injury during a swing the day before. For most of the past four weeks, Judge has slowly worked himself into throwing again, performing defensive drills and eventually to swinging a bat in live batting practice and extended spring training simulations.

Following two live hitting sessions at the Yankees' complex in Tampa earlier this week, he has progressed to the point of participating in rehab games with the RailRiders.

Before getting injured, Judge was batting .288 with a .925 OPS. He also had five homers and 11 RBIs in 20 games.

The Yankees, meanwhile, are on a 16-game homer-hitting streak, despite being without both superstar power hitters.