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Yankees' Aaron Judge returns from stiff neck, belts homer in intrasquad game

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Yankees' Aaron Judge returns from stiff neck, belts homer in intrasquad game
New York Yankees star outfielder Aaron Judge takes batting practice during a summer training workout Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. Photo by Corey Sipkin/UPI | License Photo

July 15 (UPI) -- After missing three straight intrasquad games because of a stiff neck, New York Yankees star outfielder Aaron Judge returned to action Wednesday and blasted a towering home run to center field in his first at-bat.

Judge, the 2017 AL Rookie of the Year, made his first appearance in the Yankees' lineup since Saturday and played in right field. He went deep on the second pitch he saw from starter James Paxton in Wednesday's intrasquad game.

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The two-time All-Star selection was involved in some light field activity Monday and Tuesday, taking part in batting practice and shagging fly balls in the outfield. Judge told the team Saturday that he woke up with a sore neck.

Judge, who previously suffered a fractured first right rib and a punctured lung, has used the coronavirus hiatus to rehab from his injuries. The 28-year-old slugger was back at full strength before training camp resumed this summer at Yankee Stadium, participating in full practices and intrasquad matchups before his latest neck ailment.

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In 102 games last season, Judge had a .272 batting average with 27 home runs and 55 RBIs. His best MLB season came in 2017, when he recorded career highs in homers (52), RBIs (114) and batting average (.284).

Since making his major league debut with the Yankees in 2016, Judge has appeared in 396 career games and notched 110 home runs, 246 RBIs and 387 total hits.

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The Yankees open the pandemic-shortened 2020 season against the Washington Nationals on July 23.

Baseball kicks off with preseason training

Kansas City Royals batter Alex Gordon connects for a sacrifice RBI during an exhibition game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 22. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

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