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Yankees ace Luis Severino tries to find bright side of shutdown

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TAMPA — Luis Severino believes his inflamed right rotator cuff issue can improve before the end of his two-week shutdown, but that still wouldn’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 period in which he won’t pick up a baseball. “I can’t play catch for two weeks.”

Severino felt something in his shoulder on the first slider he unleashed Tuesday while preparing to start against the Braves at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

An MRI exam showed inflammation in the rotator cuff, and Aaron Boone said Tuesday that Severino would receive an injection. Severino said Wednesday morning he hadn’t gotten the shot and answered “maybe” when asked if he was going to get one.

Severino was a bit subdued talking about the problem but somewhat encouraged at 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 wasn’t frightened because there wasn’t structural damage to the shoulder. Yet, he also didn’t know what caused the inflammation.

Prior to the Cardinals-Yankees game on Wednesday at GMS Field, Boone hadn’t addressed who will make the Opening Day start. The two most likely choices are Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton, with J.A. Happ having an outside shot.

As for who joins the back end of the rotation, that will be between Luis Cessa, Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga. And remember, CC Sabathia is suspended for the first five games, when the Yankees plan to go with five starters.

After acquiring Paxton from the Mariners, bringing back Happ via free agency and deleting the underperforming Sonny Gray, the Yankees’ rotation is better. However, there is no denying the 25-year-old Severino’s worth to the Yankees, who recently dropped a four-year contract on him for $40 million. Severino is 33-14 with a 3.18 ERA in the past two seasons, when he made 63 starts.

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