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Luis Severino earns job of fourth starter for Yankees

New York Yankees pitcher Luis Severino pitches during batting practice

New York Yankees pitcher Luis Severino pitches during batting practice at spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida on Feb. 17, 2017. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Luis Severino will start the season as the Yankees’ fourth starter.

How long he stays in the job, Joe Girardi said Thursday, is up to the talented but up-and-down righthander.

“He needs to take this and run with it,” Girardi said of the 23-year-old, who has continually frustrated the Yankees with his inconsistent fastball command.

Though Girardi said he doesn’t want Severino “looking over his shoulder,” he added: “This is a performance-based business, so you have to perform.”

Severino, who allowed one run and five hits in five innings in his final exhibition start Thursday against the Phillies — a 14-1 victory that put the Yankees at an MLB-best 24-8 — said he understands the warning.

“It feels very good. I’m happy they’re giving me a chance to be a starter,” Severino said. “I have to be that starter that they [think] I am.”

Lefthander Jordan Montgomery and righties Chad Green and Luis Cessa will compete for the fifth spot during the first two weeks of the minor-league season. Because of several off days early in the season, the Yankees don’t need a fifth starter until April 16. Green will pitch for Double-A Trenton and Montgomery and Cessa will pitch for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Severino, who won a rotation spot in spring training last year but lost it after falling to 0-6 with a 7.46 ERA on May 13, was told Wednesday that he had secured the fourth starter job.

After the Yankees spotted him a 9-0 lead in the top of the first inning Thursday, Severino struggled, allowing a run on a walk and two hits.

But he was perfect in the next three innings before leftfielder Clint Frazier’s misplay leading off the fifth led to a double. Severino, who walked one and struck out four in lowering his ERA to 3.38, got out of the inning anyway.

“After the first inning, I thought he was pretty good,” Girardi said. “Step in the right direction.”

In addition to tabbing Severino as the fourth starter and making official his position players for Opening Day — Ronald Torreyes will be the starting shortstop and Pete Kozma the reserve infielder — Girardi announced his bullpen to start the year.

With the Yankees not needing a fifth starter yet, they’ll leave camp with eight relievers: Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard, Tommy Layne, Adam Warren, Bryan Mitchell, Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve. Warren and Mitchell will be the long men.

“We don’t have a rotation that you expect they’re going to give you seventh, eighth inning every time they go out,” Girardi said. “So you’re going to need some distance [from some relievers].”


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