Playing in New York, Aaron Judge is used to getting asked the tough questions. 

But even the New York Yankees captain had to be taken by surprise when one of his own teammates, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, joined the scrum of reporters at Judge’s locker, jokingly grilling him about his abdominal injury, according to Yankees beat reporter Bryan Hoch.

“Aaron,” Rizzo queried as his Yankees teammate flashed a smile, “do you think it’s fair to your Grapefruit League teammates that you’re not out there with us?”

Aaron Judge during a New York Yankees 2024 spring training game.

Aaron Judge has been out with an injury during New York Yankees spring training.

Miguel Rodriguez/IMAGO

Judge, as he so often has to do with the New York media, deflected the question good-naturedly.

“You know, those guys have been working hard all year,” Judge said. “They’re getting some good quality reps. It’s fun to be a part of and fun to watch.”

The abdominal injury, which required an MRI and has the hulking slugger’s availability for Opening Day in question, is the talk of Yankees’ camp for good reason, though.

The 2022 American League MVP was limited to just 106 games played in 2023 due to a toe injury he suffered following a collision with the Dodger Stadium bullpen fence in June. The Yankees struggled in his absence and  limped to an 82–80 record, missing the postseason for the first time since 2016.

Judge, whose MRI came back clean, told reporters he’s “pretty sure” he’ll be ready for the first game of the regular season against the Houston Astros on March 28.

The Linden, Calif. native posted a .267/.406/.613 slash line with 37 home runs and 75 RBI in 458 plate appearances this past season.