As evidenced by Sunday’s shaky opening bullpen act, the Yankees need healthy starting pitching, and there is guarded optimism that James Paxton will return to the mound during a seven-game road trip that begins Monday night with a four-game series in Baltimore.
That also holds true for Masahiro Tanaka, who suffered a bruised right shin Saturday when he was hit by a 111-mph comebacker off the bat of Yandy Diaz.
“So Masa came in today feeling better, walking normal, but we'll see how it unfolds the next couple of days,’’ manager Aaron Boone said. “I would say today was at least encouraging that he walked in feeling pretty well. Definitely some soreness in there, but walking is not an issue. I think there's a chance he makes the next start, but we'll see how these next couple of days go. But that's our intention right now.’’
Paxton has not pitched since May 3, when he left after three innings against the Twins with inflammation in his left knee. “I’m still noticing it a little bit,’’ he said after a bullpen session before the game. “I think there might be one more bullpen before I come back, just to get to the point where I'm not thinking about it, it’s not going to be in my mind when I'm out there trying to compete. It feels good. I just don't want it to go backward once we put more load in a game. I just want to make sure it's ready to go so I don't have this bouncing back and forth off the IL the whole season with this thing.’’
Boone also wants to be certain that Paxton is ready to go before setting a date for his return. “ Hopefully,’’ he said, “one more side session on Tuesday will be something that catapults him back into the rotation at some point on the trip.’’
Notes & quotes: The Yankees’ team plane had a mechanical problem that forced the club to bus to Baltimore on Sunday night, according to the New York Post . . . Gary Sanchez entered the fifth inning with 1,103 at-bats and 1,248 plate appearances for the Yankees before recording his first major-league triple, a drive off the rightfield wall that bounced back toward the infield . . . The Yankees sent Chance Adams back to Triple-A after the game. He earned a save after pitching three scoreless innings in the 13-5 victory.