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Aaron Judge has surgery on shoulder after denying it was bothering him

Yankees slugger Aaron Judge played through an injured left shoulder in 2017. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge’s second-half slump may have been caused by an injury after all. The 25-year-old rookie underwent surgery Tuesday to repair his left shoulder, the team announced. He’s expected to be ready to go by spring training.

Judge had a loose body removed and cartilage cleaned up in his left shoulder. The procedure was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

That’s the same shoulder that came into question when Judge was in the midst of a brutal slump in August. In his first 35 games after the All-Star break, Judge hit just .169/.329/.355. On Aug. 20, MLB.com reporter Bryan Hoch noticed Judge was icing his left shoulder following a game. When asked about his shoulder, just told reporters it wasn’t bothering him.

The possible injury may have turned into a bigger story had Judge not immediately turned things around. The rest of the way, Judge hit .291/.452/.752, with 15 home runs, over his final 36 regular season games.

His postseason performance was up and down, but that could have more to do with small sample fluctuations than injury. Judge did hit three home runs during the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros, so the injury didn’t prevent him from being productive.

It’s unclear when Judge first suffered the injury, though the New York Post speculates it could stretch back to a game in late April when Judge ran into an outfield wall trying to make a catch. If that’s the case, Judge spent the majority of his Rookie of the Year season playing through some pain.

Aside from the August slump, Judge’s injury didn’t appear to impact his stats much. He still hit .284/.422/.627, with 52 home runs, during the regular season. That performance led to Judge finishing runner-up for the American League MVP award.

The issue didn’t really impact him in 2017, and won’t hinder him in 2018, so Yankees fans shouldn’t worry too much about the surgery. If anything, they should dream about how much better Judge will be at 100 percent next season.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!