Joe Girardi says Jacoby Ellsbury returning by June 30 “is probably going to be pretty difficult”

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Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury had hoped to return from a sprained right knee by the end of the month, but it sounds like he won’t be ready to come off the disabled list by then.

Manager Joe Girardi told Christina De Nicola of MLB.com that Ellsbury coming back by June 30 “is probably going to be pretty difficult” because he still isn’t running at 100 percent one month after suffering the injury and “it’s just not where we want it to be physically.”

Brett Gardner initially shifted from left field to center field following Ellsbury’s injury, but of late the Yankees have mostly been using rookie call-up Mason Williams in center field with Gardner back in a corner spot.

Ellsbury hit .324 with 14 steals and a .783 OPS in 37 games before the injury, leading the Yankees with a .412 on-base percentage.

Aaron Judge out of Yankees starting lineup for finale after No. 62

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Yankees slugger Aaron Judge wasn’t in the starting lineup for New York’s regular-season finale, a day after his 62nd home run that broke Roger Maris’ 61-year-old American League single-season record.

When Judge homered in the first inning Tuesday night, in the second game of a doubleheader against the Texas Rangers, it was his 55th consecutive game. He has played in 157 games overall for the AL East champions.

With the first-round bye in the playoffs, the Yankees won’t open postseason play until the AL Division Series starts next Tuesday.

Even though Judge had indicated that he hoped to play Wednesday, manager Aaron Boone said after Tuesday night’s game that they would have a conversation and see what made the most sense.

“Short conversation,” Boone said before Wednesday’s game, adding that he was “pretty set on probably giving him the day today.”

Asked if there was a scenario in which Judge would pinch hit, Boone responded, “I hope not.”

Judge went into the final day of the regular season batting .311, trailing American League batting average leader Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315. Judge was a wide leader in the other Triple Crown categories, with his 62 homers and 131 RBIs.

Boone said that “probably the one temptation” to play Judge had been the long shot chance the slugger had to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.