Yankees' Jhony Brito impresses, puts himself in line for rotation spot
TAMPA, Fla. — Jhony Brito probably is not a name Yankees fans know real well. It may be time to get to know him.
Brito, who was called up from minor-league camp to replace the injured Luis Severino against the Blue Jays on Sunday, threw 5 1⁄3 perfect innings in the Yankees’ 6-2 victory to all but earn himself a spot in the Yankees’ first-week rotation.
Not only did Brito put himself in line for a starting spot, but manager Aaron Boone said it’s possible that the 25-year-old righthander will start the third game of the season next Sunday against San Francisco.
That’s either a sign of how desperate the Yankees are or how impressive Brito was on Sunday. Or both.
Brito, who has never pitched in the majors, struck out the side in the first inning and then cruised through a Toronto lineup that was missing bashers Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and George Springer but still had some regulars.
Brito retired all 16 batters he faced before Boone removed him to a standing ovation from the crowd at Steinbrenner Field. After the first inning, Brito recorded 10 outs via ground balls, two on fly balls and one on a foul pop. He threw 58 pitches.
“If felt like [it was] a big opportunity,” Brito said through an interpreter. “I think it was a great way for them to see if I can keep being the pitcher I’ve been in camp and in my career, somebody that attacks the zone. Really good opportunity to show what I can do and how I can pitch.”
Severino said on Sunday he expects to miss at least three or four starts with a lat strain on his right side. Carlos Rodon also is out with a forearm strain.
Brito, who like Severino is from the Dominican Republic, said he went up to Severino at his locker Sunday morning to see how he was feeling.
“He gave me encouragement,” Brito said, “and told me, ‘You have to execute. Do your job, execute pitches. Hopefully you get that starting spot.’ ”
It looks as if he did. The Yankees will open with Gerrit Cole, then Clarke Schmidt. Domingo German has not had a good spring training, and he might end up as the fifth starter after Nestor Cortes pitches game No. 4.
Boone said relievers Ron Marinaccio, Albert Abreu and Jimmy Cordero made the Opening Day roster. Righthander Greg Weissert (Bay Shore) is still in the mix, Boone said, as the Yankees figure out their final 26-man roster . . . The Yankees sent lefthanders Matt Krook and Nick Ramirez and catcher Carlos Narvaez (a cousin of Mets catcher Omar Narvaez) to minor-league camp . . . Aaron Judge hit his second home run of spring training. Anthony Rizzo followed with his first on the next pitch, both off righthander Zach Pop.