When Adam Warren takes the hill against Boston on Saturday, it will have been 561 days since his last regular-season start. That game came a day after Mariano Rivera's Yankee Stadium farewell (and final game), and months before Alex Rodriguez would serve a single day of his season-long suspension.
It was, in baseball terms, a really long time ago.
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And Warren felt every single bit of it.
"Yeah,'' agreed the 27-year-old righthander, who won the fifth rotation spot over Esmil Rogers in spring training. "I'm excited to get back out there in a starter mind-set and I'm just anxious to get out there. It's been like two weeks since I've even pitched on a mound last -- I mean, I've been doing bullpens -- but I'm ready to go out there and face hitters . . . I'm just excited to do it."
It's no wonder that Warren is all but pacing in the dugout. He was a starter in college and throughout his trek through the minor leagues, but a rough start in his major-league debut in 2012 and the team's overall makeup meant the Yankees would have other ideas in the years to come.
He's started only three major-league games, his last coming on Sept. 27, 2013 -- five innings of two-hit ball in a 3-2 win over Houston -- and exclusively came out of the bullpen in 2014. He had a 2.97 ERA, with 76 strikeouts and 24 walks in 782/3 innings.
Fast-forward to 2015, at a time when the Yankees' rotation seems less than complete, and to Warren, who performed well in spring training and is more than eager to prove he's got what it takes to take this spot and keep it.
Warren's new role was made possible when Chris Capuano strained his right quadriceps, landing him on the disabled list. Ivan Nova still is recovering from Tommy John surgery.
"I do have a little chip on my shoulder," Warren said. "I do see it as an opportunity, but I can't look too far ahead . . . [It's] definitely an opportunity to open some eyes."
He's also not the same pitcher he used to be, he said. His experience -- which now includes the adrenaline-pumping whiplash of a call to the bullpen in a tight situation -- seems to have toughened him. And his previous experience as a starter means he hasn't had too much trouble stretching his arm out for a starter's pitch count.
"[I] feel like I have the stuff," he said, adding that he had a habit of nibbling around the edges and falling behind in the count. "I'd get in trouble because guys would see a lot of pitches. I think now I'm more aggressive . . . I think my breaking stuff has gotten better."
That doesn't mean he's completely immune to the jitters -- not with so much on the line for him and those 561 days finally drawing to an end.
"Oh,'' he said, "there'll definitely be some nerves."