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James Paxton could return to Yankees during upcoming road trip

Yankees could go with an opener against Rays on Sunday.

James Paxton of the Yankees delivers a pitch

James Paxton of the Yankees delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Twins at Yankee Stadium on May 3. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

James Paxton likely will come off the injured list next week during the Yankees’ trip to Baltimore and Kansas City, according to Aaron Boone.

And so, Boone said, the Yankees on Sunday probably will take a page from the Rays’ playbook and go with an “opener.”

“It kind of depends these next couple of days how it goes,” Boone said before his team opened a three-game series with a 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay at the Stadium. “But it could be a bullpen day. It’ll depend on who we use these next couple of days, but it’ll probably be something along those lines on Sunday.”

The Yankees employed the opener strategy once last season. Jonathan Holder pitched the first inning and was followed to the mound by seven relievers in a 4-1 road victory over the Rays on Sept. 24.

If the Yankees do go with an opener Sunday, Chad Green, Luis Cessa and Holder are among those who could get tabbed to begin the game against Rays righthander Charlie Morton.

Paxton seems just about over the left knee inflammation that landed him on the IL May 4. The lefthander threw a simulated game in the bullpen Friday afternoon and also went through a round of PFP (pitchers’ fielding practice).

“It went well today,” Boone said. “Another positive step. The next thing will be, how does he come in tomorrow? And then he would throw potentially another side on Sunday, and then if that goes well, there’s a chance we could possibly insert him at some point during the trip.”

Extra bases

The Yankees are 13-3 in their last 16 home games after starting the season 3-6 at the Stadium. They have gone 21-7 overall since their 6-9 start . . . Of Tommy Kahnle’s 20 appearances this season, 17 were hitless and scoreless.

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