TAMPA — An inflamed right rotator cuff will keep Luis Severino on the injured list when the Yankees open the season, and the staff ace will have CC Sabathia with him.
“I would say a short [IL] stint probably,” Aaron Boone said of Sabathia, who is suspended for the first five games of the season and coming off right knee surgery and having a stent inserted into a blocked heart artery during the offseason. “Everything is going pretty well, and he had [his second bullpen session] that went well. I certainly don’t expect him for the start of the season. It may be a couple of weeks in if everything goes according to plan.”
With two openings in the rotation, the Yankees have Domingo German, Luis Cessa and Jonathan Loaisiga competing for the spots. GM Brian Cashman is looking at all options — free agent Dallas Keuchel comes to mind — but said Wednesday he is inclined to stay within the organization. And Boone admitted using a reliever to start a game is a possibility.
“I could see it being considered from time to time. I don’t consider it a lot, but I could see it coming into play,” Boone said of employing the opener by using a reliever such as Chad Green to start a game. “There are so many things that go into that for us. A long stretch of games, you may want to give a guy an extra day. When we are healthy and right, I don’t see it that much.”
Severino believes his rotator cuff issue can improve before the end of his two-week shutdown, but that won’t allow the Yankees’ ace to be ready for Opening Day, on March 28 against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
“I feel I will get better before that,” Severino said Wednesday of the two-week break. “I can’t play catch for two weeks.”
Severino felt something in his shoulder on the first slider he unleashed Tuesday while preparing for his initial start of the spring against the Braves.
An MRI showed the inflammation and Severino received a cortisone shot Wednesday.
Severino was a bit subdued talking about the problem but encouraged by the timing.
“It is a bad thing, you don’t get to play baseball,” Severino said. “It’s tough for a little bit, but good it happened now and not at the end [of spring training].”
Severino said he isn’t frightened because there isn’t structural damage to his shoulder. Yet, he also doesn’t know what caused the inflammation.
Dr. Alexis Colvin, who hasn’t examined Severino or looked at the MRI, said one reason could be extended use and that it “wasn’t a one-time thing.”
Colvin, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon at the Mount Sinai Health System in Manhattan, said the cortisone shot and rest should return Severino to where he was prior to Tuesday’s developments.
“The cortisone should kick in for sure before the two-week period, so two weeks should be reasonable,” Colvin said. “With no baseball activity, it will be a gradual process and get him back to where he was before.”
After the Cardinals beat the Yankees 9-5 Wednesday at GMS Field, Boone said Masahiro Tanaka was among the starters he would use on Opening Day. James Paxton and J.A. Happ are also candidates.
As for filling the void, Cashman will start from the inside.
“We will always turn from within and obviously, like any time, if things develop from the outside that make sense between now and Aug. 31, continue to bang that drum. We are always open to non-roster invites, waiver claims,” Cashman said.
As for free agents, the GM’s first preference is to ignore them.
“We are going to rely on what we have here in camp and be open to any opportunities that present themselves that make sense. So what I’ve got it is I’ve got. I am comfortable with that but we also recognize as the season plays out we are going to have to add to this group regardless,” Cashman said. “You can’t rule anything out but the main focus is what we have.”