Maikel Franco
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Phillies option Maikel Franco

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The Phillies have optioned third baseman Maikel Franco to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, the team announced on Sunday. According to comments given by manager Gabe Kapler, the decision was precipitated by the “abundance of outfielders” on the active roster, as well as Scott Kingery‘s move to third base and the general feeling that Franco doesn’t “profile well as a bench player.”

Franco, 26, isn’t exactly having a banner year for the club. Through Saturday’s 3-2 win over the White Sox, he’s batting just .231/.296/.405 with 15 home runs, a .702 OPS, and -0.1 fWAR through 368 plate appearances, nearing some of the career-worst numbers he produced in 2017. Still, it’s a somewhat surprising move given Franco’s relative stability at the hot corner over the last several years. Whether or not the Phillies will find some use for the infielder before the end of the season remains unclear, though given their current position in the Wild Card race and Kapler’s sentiments about Franco’s abilities as a utility player, it seems unlikely.

In a corresponding move, infielder Brad Miller was reinstated from the 10-day injured list (hip flexor tightness) and will assume Franco’s spot on the roster. The 29-year-old utility man slashed an impressive .294/.399/.596 during his time with the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate earlier this season, but hasn’t shown much life at the plate in the majors. He currently holds a combined .234/.330/.455 batting line with four home runs, two stolen bases, and a .784 OPS across 88 PA for the 2019 Indians and Phillies.

Yankees place Aaron Judge (strained calf) on IL

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NEW YORK — Yankees star Aaron Judge was placed on the injured list with a right calf strain before Friday night’s game against Boston and manager Aaron Boone is optimistic the outfielder will not miss significant time.

The move was retroactive to Wednesday and Boone described the strain as mild after an MRI revealed the injury. To replace Judge on the roster, Thairo Estrada was recalled from the Yankees’ alternate site in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Judge began Friday leading the majors with nine homers and tied with Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon for the major league lead with 20 RBIs.

“It’s something that I think he really wants to try and work through here and kind of wants to be out here and feels like it’s a day-to-day thing which it may very well be, but I just think obviously it goes without saying how important a player Aaron is to us,” Boone said.

Boone had said last weekend’s series on the artificial turf in Tampa Bay took its toll on the 6-foot-7 outfielder.

Judge joined Giancarlo Stanton as the second Yankees slugger to land on the injured list this. Stanton was placed on the IL with a strained hamstring after getting hurt in the second game of last Saturday’s doubleheader.

“We’ve lost two MVP-caliber players,” Boone said. “Obviously that is a blow, especially two guys that playing well as they are right now.”

Judge was pulled for a pinch hitter during Tuesday night’s win over Atlanta and didn’t play Wednesday. The Yankees were off Thursday.

The 28-year-old All-Star missed time during July’s training camp because of a stiff neck.

The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year hit 27 homers in each of the last two seasons, both of them interrupted by injuries. His right wrist was broken when he was hit by a pitch in 2018 and he went on the injured list for two months last year with a left oblique strain.

Judge was diagnosed with a broken rib in March and would not have been ready for the season opener if the season began as scheduled on March 26.