New York Yankees welcome back Aaron Judge, transfer James Paxton to 45-day IL

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees activated All-Star right fielder Aaron Judge on Wednesday and batted him second against Toronto, giving the team a full stable of active regulars for the first time since Aug. 8.

Judge went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in a 13-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees hit seven homers on the night, three coming from catcher Kyle Higashioka and two from DJ LeMahieu.

The team also said it was transferring left-hander James Paxton to the 45-day injured list, ending his regular season and potentially his time as a Yankee.

Judge had been out since Aug. 26 after reaggravating a strained right calf and landing on the injured list for the second time this season. Judge initially went on the IL on Aug. 14, returned for one game and promptly was put back on the shelf.

Judge entered the night batting .292 with nine home runs, 20 RBIs and a 1.081 OPS in 18 games this season.

"Writing him back in the lineup is big," manager Aaron Boone said.

Paxton hasn't pitched since Aug. 20, and New York had been hoping he could recover from a strained left flexor tendon in his throwing arm in time to pitch again this season. The 31-year-old suffered a setback in his rehab last week and finishes the year 1-1 with a 6.64 ERA in five starts. Paxton can become a free agent after the season.

New York has been short-handed offensively since designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton was sidelined by a strained left hamstring on Aug. 9. Stanton was activated for Tuesday night's game against Toronto and went 0-for-4 with a walk.

Second baseman DJ LeMahieu, shortstop Gleyber Torres and third baseman Gio Urshela have also been placed on the IL this season, but all have since returned. The team suffered through a 5-15 slump amid the injuries, nearly dropping out of the American League's eight-team playoff picture.

Wednesday's win gave the Yankees a 1½-game lead over Toronto for second place in the AL East, with the top two teams ensured a postseason berth. The club has won seven straight.

Stanton was held out of Wednesday's lineup because Boone said he wants to ramp him up slowly. Judge is likely to follow a similar plan, getting Thursday off before being pushed into back-to-back games. Both players got reps over the weekend at the team's alternate training site in Scranton, Pennsylvania, but neither had anything resembling a typical minor league rehab assignment.

"I believe they're healthy so I'm excited about that," Boone said. "Part of the reason we're going lightly is because they didn't have a big rehab process as far as going down and playing games."

Torres was also missing from Wednesday's lineup because of a quadriceps issue. Boone said Torres has tightness and described the injury as "minor" but sat him for a second consecutive game as a precaution. Boone expects him to start Thursday.

Starting pitchers Paxton and Luis Severino remain on the injured list, along with reliever Tommy Kahnle. All three are out for the season.