It took a little time, but Luis Severino finally seemed ready to forgive Joe Girardi.
“I think two days later, a little bit more [willing], yes,” Girardi said with a smile in his office before Monday night’s Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. “I asked him if he still hated me and he said no. That’s progress.”
Girardi said his plan is for Severino to start Game 6 if it’s necessary. He pulled the 23-year-old righthander after the fourth inning Saturday in Game 2, a 2-1 loss that put the Yankees behind the Astros two games to none in the best-of-seven series. Severino, who had allowed one run, two hits and two walks through four innings, was none too pleased at being taken out.
“He told me that he saw something,” Severino said after the game. “I told him that I feel good . . . Maybe they were worried or something like that. But like I said, I felt great.”
Severino was evaluated and cleared after Saturday’s game and played catch on the field Monday. He was scheduled to see team physician Christopher Ahmad early Monday night.
“He was good the other day, he’s playing catch today,” Girardi said. “He’ll see the doctor, and I think he’s going to be fine. If the doctor says no tests, we’re not going to have them. We were pleased with the exam the other day. Dr. Ahmad will examine again, but my guess is we’ll stay the course.”
After Severino delivered a 1-and-1 changeup to Marwin Gonzalez that made it 2-and-1, Girardi said he made a brief windmill motion with his shoulder. Girardi went to the mound with a trainer to check on Severino, and after watching a couple of warmup tosses, he left him in. But after Severino retired Yuli Gurriel on a comebacker that smacked him on his glove hand, Girardi pulled him.
“It was just more of a precaution,” he said. “And I had to make a tough call. Believe me, I didn’t want to take him out, but again, I would have had a much harder time had I left him in and he got hurt than this. This I can live with.”
In the minutes after Saturday’s loss, Girardi went into more detail on what he saw and his immediate concern.
“We saw him throw that one changeup and then he kind of did this [the windmill motion] with his arm and there was some concern on our part there. And that’s why I ran out and he reassured me that he was fine,” Girardi said. “Some of our staff thought that maybe he was pushing the ball a little bit. He wasn’t very happy I took him out. But I think it is my responsibility to protect this kid, he’s very young, he’s thrown more innings than he has thrown during the course of a season. He gave us a great effort, but we felt that, and I felt, it was me, that I couldn’t take a chance.”
Severino went 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA this season, throwing 193 1⁄3 innings. His previous high was the 151 1⁄3 he threw between the big leagues and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year.
During the regular season, he struck out 230, fourth in the AL. On Saturday he did not strike out a batter, which also might have played a role in the club’s concern, though Houston was the toughest team in the AL to strike out this season.
“When a guy goes like this,” Girardi said, again making the windmill motion, “I’m thinking shoulder. That’s my initial reaction. That’s why I ran out here. I didn’t see him go like this [grab his elbow]. Then I would think elbow. But again, being as many innings as he’s thrown, I wasn’t going to take a chance.”
After Severino’s exit, Tommy Kahnle continued to shine this postseason with two scoreless innings. David Robertson did the same, tossing two scoreless innings to keep it a 1-1 game. Closer Aroldis Chapman, also terrific this postseason, allowed the winning run in the ninth.
Regardless of how it played out, Girardi said, “I would have had regrets if I left him in and he got hurt.”