Aaron Judge faces live pitching for 1st time since toe injury

NEW YORK -- Yankees slugger Aaron Judge faced live pitching on Sunday for the first time since tearing a ligament in his right toe on June 3.

In a simulated game against Jonathan Loaisiga, who is rehabbing from right elbow surgery, Judge saw 16 pitches. He did not put any balls in play but fouled off four pitches, including one to the upper deck behind home plate.

"To be able to take pitches where your swing says no, those are tests that he's got to go through in working his way back," manager Aaron Boone said before the Yankees concluded a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals with an 8-5 win. "So it seemed like a good day all around."

The Yankees were awaiting feedback from Judge before determining what the next step in his rehab would be.

Judge faced Loaisiga in front of a watchful audience that included his teammates, several Little Leaguers in the left-field stands and a few Royals, including reliever Jose Cuas and his young son.

"When you take into consideration how long he hasn't seen live pitching in an environment like that, I thought he looked pretty good," Loaisiga said through a translator.

Judge's progression has accelerated since the All-Star break. Last week during New York's road trip through Anaheim and Colorado, the slugger began taking batting practice on the field, running the bases and fielding fly balls in the outfield while also standing in the batter's box tracking pitches in Nestor Cortes' simulated game.

The Yankees are 18-22 since Judge crashed into the right-field wall at Dodger Stadium while making a catch on a drive by J.D. Martinez. Last month, he received two injections before progressing to playing catch and taking light swings.

Judge set an American League record with 62 home runs last year. He is hitting .291 with 19 homers and 40 RBIs in the first season of a $360 million, nine-year contract he agreed to during the offseason.

New York is 30-19 with the 2022 AL MVP, who also missed 10 games earlier this season with a right hip strain from when he tried to steal third base in Minnesota on his 31st birthday on April 26.