TAMPA, Fla. — It was just one 21-pitch session, but for a pitcher coming off a variety of injuries, it wasn't insignificant.
Corey Kluber got through his first live batting practice outing of spring training — throwing to Gary Sanchez — and impressed his new manager.
"I thought he executed a lot of pitches," Aaron Boone said. "It was good to get Gary with him in a live setting."
Kluber, who made only seven starts in 2019 before a comebacker broke his right forearm, ending his season, and all of one inning last season before injuring his right shoulder, was signed to a one-year, $11 million deal in the offseason.
The 34-year-old righthander is part of a group of pitchers behind ace Gerrit Cole who have experienced big-league success — in Kluber’s case, it’s two American League Cy Young Awards and three All-Star appearances — but are question marks for 2021, in large part because of injury concerns.
"Another good step forward in the process for him," Boone said.
Speaking on Friday, Kluber, who was not limited at all in his offseason work, said he thinks the injuries are completely behind him.
"I feel really good right now," said Kluber, who went 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA in 33 starts in 2018, his last full season. "No issues with it now or anywhere along the rehab process. That's encouraging. Honestly, the way I would describe it now is I feel like I'm in a normal spot for spring training. I don't feel like I'm still working on improving the shoulder or anything like that."
More pitches for King
Prospect Mike King, who will compete for a rotation spot in spring training — the righty could end up in the bullpen if he doesn’t win a starting job — said his most significant takeaway from last year was "that you need a third pitch to pitch in the big leagues."
"Especially if you’re trying to get through the order two times," said King, 25, who posted a 7.76 ERA in nine games (four starts) last season. "For me [in 2020], I was kind of just sinkers the whole time. My changeup was iffy and my slider was still pretty bad.
"That was a big emphasis this offseason was really getting the feel for a breaking ball. I feel a lot more confident in it this year, and then I kind of fine-tuned my changeup to be a little bit better than it was last year. To be able to have more than one pitch that I’m confident with gives me the confidence to go through lineups multiple times."
Adam Warren, in his third stint with the Yankees and in camp on a minor-league deal, followed Kluber to the mound Sunday morning for his own live BP session. Warren, 33, who last pitched in 2019 with the Padres, amassing a 5.34 ERA in 25 games, first joined the Yankees’ organization in 2009 when they took him in the fourth round of the draft out of the University of North Carolina. The righthander is trying to stick as a bullpen piece.