TAMPA, Fla. — Dellin Betances said on the day he reported to spring training he wouldn’t publicly discuss, other than on that day, the possibility of a contract extension.
The reliever has held to that, though he spoke in general terms about the extensions the Yankees recently hammered out with Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks.
“This is a great team,” Betances said Tuesday morning after throwing his first live BP session of the spring. “A great group of guys, we’ve kind of grown up together. This team’s going to be special this year and the years coming forward. So obviously this is a great group of guys and I love playing here like I said before. So we’ll see.”
Betances, a free agent after the season, reported to camp on Feb. 18, five days after the other Yankees pitchers and catchers, excused because his wife had delivered the couple’s first child the previous week.
He said then that his agent, Jim Murray, and GM Brian Cashman were discussing an extension but Betances has not addressed it since.
“I told you guys at the beginning, I’m really not discussing it,” the always amiable Betances, a Yankee since the club drafted him in 2006 out of Brooklyn’s Grand Street Campus High School, said. “I’m just focusing on playing baseball and helping this team win and that’s my goal.”
On Feb. 18 he said: “I would love to play here in New York, but whenever there’s a decision to make, my agent will come to me with that. But for now, my focus is on my baby at home and trying to help this team win a championship.”
The 6-8 Betances, who turns 31 on March 23, said he did not feel too far behind after arriving in camp late.
“I came out fine,” Betances said of the live BP session, watched by manager Aaron Boone and pitching coach Larry Rothschild. “I yanked a couple of fastballs, probably a little jumpy trying to maybe over throw a little bit, but I felt good overall. Breaking ball was really sharp. For the first one I feel like I’m getting there.”
Boone liked what he saw.
“I thought he was good [in his] first time against hitters,” he said. “Had really good command of his breaking ball. Was good with his fastball overall. Missed with some but overall pretty strong first day for him.”
After a day off Wednesday, Betances will throw a bullpen Thursday, have another day off Friday and likely a live BP or simulated game on Saturday.
“I think we’ve had a good program,” said Betances, who has a 2.22 ERA with 607 strikeouts in 373 1⁄3 innings the last five years. “I feel like I’ve thrown a good amount of bullpens before this first BP. I’m still a long ways away but I’ll take it for the first one.”
Betances is coming off a 2018 in which he posted a 2.70 ERA in 66 games, striking out 115 in 66 2/3 innings. He had a rough start to the season — he had a 4.30 ERA at the end of May — but posted a 1.85 ERA over the final four months (45 games).
Within the next seven days, Betances should be ready to pitch in a game, meaning he shouldn’t have a problem getting in the “five or six” spring outings he feels are needed to be ready for the regular season.
“As long as I build arm strength, that’s the biggest key, which [has] felt better each and every day,” Betances said. “I’m starting to feel like my arm’s getting stronger. Not quite where it needs to be, but that’ll take time. But with five or six [games] I’ll be fine.”