SARASOTA, Fla. — Jordan Montgomery’s 2021 rotation spot is all but secured, regardless of his results this spring.
Still, any player in that situation will say they prefer positive results this time of year than the alternative and in that respect Montgomery delivered a mixed bag Tuesday afternoon in his spring debut against the Orioles.
The 28-year-old lefthander labored through an erratic first inning, but the frame ended far better than it began and he ended up allowing two hits and two walks but gave up just one run.
It came two batters in as Cedric Mullins led off with a triple off the top of the wall in right and Trey Mancini followed with a sacrifice fly to the track in left. The two walks and another hit would load the bases with one out, but Montgomery struck out Yusniel Diaz and Stevie Wilkerson to end the threat.
The 28-year-old, a fourth-round pick of the Yankees in 2014, had a far easier second inning, retiring the Orioles in order, none of the balls hit particularly hard.
"Minus those two walks, I’m very happy with the outing," Montgomery said. "My delivery was pretty synced up, I’m happy with the way the ball was moving."
It’s a leaner frame for the 6-6, 228-pound pitcher who, dating back to his college days at South Carolina, has gone by the nickname "Gumby." During his recovery from Tommy John — which he underwent in June 2018 — Montgomery, who still hears from a pair of former Yankee lefties, CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, bulked up. But he shed some of that this offseason.
"Sometimes I get mixed up in mass equals gas [velocity]," said Montgomery, the Yankees’ fourth-round pick in 2014. "This year, I kind of wanted to lean up, come in [with] more of an athletic lean weight. I'm definitely more closer to where I should be than I was last year. Dropped about 15 pounds, and I'm feeling good, I'm moving better. I feel like I'm in a good spot right now."
Stay at home
On Monday, Boone said Chad Green would follow Montgomery in Sarasota, but the Yankees chose to have the reliever stay back in Tampa and throw a simulated game. Boone said he plans to do that with most, if not all, of his "higher-leverage" relievers.
"Just trying to be mindful of all the things we talked about with our starting pitchers and innings," Boone said, referencing the sport-wide concern about how pitchers, after the 2020 60-game season, will respond to far bigger workloads this season. "Coming off the last season, I want to be mindful of that with our relievers as well. So there's a good chance we might hold some of those guys back and keep them in more controlled environments with live BPs and things like that."
Boone said Brett Gardner and Gio Stanton are both slated to make their spring debuts Wednesday night at Steinbrenner Field against Toronto . . . Corey Kluber will make his spring debut Wednesday night vs. Toronto. He will be followed by Deivi Garcia Thursday at the Phillies in Clearwater and Domingo German, coming off an 81-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic abuse policy, Friday at home against Detroit.