Well, that certainly doesn’t sound good.
Not for any pitcher, certainly, and definitely not one coming off a 2020 season cut short after one inning because of a shoulder injury.
Corey Kluber, making his first start since throwing his first no-hitter last Wednesday night in Arlington, Texas, against the Rangers, left Tuesday night’s 6-2 loss to the Blue Jays at the Stadium — a result that ended the Yankees six-game winning streak and Toronto’s six-game losing streak — with what the Yankees called "tightness" in the pitcher’s right shoulder.
The 35-year-old, who threw 101 pitches Wednesday and threw 58 pitches (31 strikes) Tuesday night, will undergo an MRI Wednesday.
For his part, Kluber said the discomfort he felt — which started during warmups when his arm felt "heavy" and he could not get his shoulder "loose" — was "totally different" than what he felt last season, when he was diagnosed with a Grade 2 tear of the teres major muscle in the back of his shoulder.
"I wouldn’t say alarmed at this point," said Kluber, evaluated by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad during the game. "Wish we knew more . . . have to wait until tomorrow . . . but)] it doesn’t feel at all like what I felt last year."
Kluber struggled with his command early, walking three batters over the first two innings, but did not allow a hit until Bo Bichette’s infield single to short with one out in the third. Vlad Guerrero Jr. followed by blasting his AL-leading 16th homer for a 2-0 lead that snapped a 37 1⁄3 scoreless innings streak by Yankees starters.
That became the least of the Yankees’ worries because of the sudden departure of Kluber, who did retire the next two batters and did not appear to show any signs of discomfort.
"Second and third inning the stuff deteriorated a little bit," catcher Kyle Higashioka said. "I could tell he was struggling through something . . . it had me rattled a little bit when he came out."
Kluber (4-3, 3.04 ERA) allowed two runs and two hits. He walked three and struck out five.
Mike King took over in the fourth and allowed a one-out homer to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. for a 3-0 Toronto lead. Gleyber Torres’ throwing error on a play at the plate — he one-hopped the throw to Higashioka, who failed to scoop it — with the bases loaded in the seventh led to two runs that made it 5-0.
Offensively, the Yankees (28-20) were outhit by the Blue Jays (24-23), 13-7, held in check by former Met and Ward Melville standout Steven Matz (6-2), who struck out 10 over 6 2⁄3 innings in which he allowed one run, six hits and no walks.
Kluber arrived this spring with plenty of questions about his health.
His one-inning 2020 season came after a 2019 that ended May 1 of that year when a comebacker in Miami broke his right forearm.
The pitcher, like many free agents, had a long winter, unsigned until agreeing to a one-year, $11 million deal Jan. 15.
The slow winter mostly had to do with teams not wanting to spend, but in the case of Kluber the questions about his health were front and center.
The Yankees, however, believed they had insight other teams perhaps didn’t in answering those questions because Kluber rehabbed over the winter in Jupiter, Florida, at Cressey Sports Performance, which is run by Eric Cressey, who is in his second year as the Yankees’ director of health and performance.
"With Eric Cressey, we have a lot of firsthand knowledge about where he was in his recovery and his training and kind of the measurables coming back from different injuries," Boone said Feb. 19, not long after Yankees pitchers and catchers reported to camp.
Tuesday night Kluber, Boone and the rest of the team were left hoping for the best.
"Always concerning when a starting pitcher comes out like that," Boone said. "Physical exam [Tuesday night) was pretty good . . . We’ll see what we have tomorrow."