HOUSTON – The good news was Luis Severino did not injure his shoulder further.
But there was more than enough bad news.
An MRI performed on the righthander late Tuesday afternoon in New York showed a Grade 2 lat strain, according to the Yankees. Severino, who had been rehabbing in Tampa from the right rotator cuff inflammation that shelved him on March 5, will be shut down for at least six weeks, the club said. It is a new injury, unrelated to the inflammation.
Severino, whom general manager Brian Cashman during the spring had said wouldn’t be back until May at the earliest, had been making progress, throwing on flat ground for around two weeks, stretching out as far as 130 feet on Saturday.
But while playing catch Monday Severino “didn’t feel as great” as he had been feeling, in the words of Aaron Boone, necessitating Tuesday’s test and examination by team doctor Christopher Ahmad.
Though the MRI didn’t show anything season ending with the shoulder, just how much, if anything, he will be able to contribute in 2019 very much becomes a question.
The Yankees for now will continue to plug that hole from inside the organization.
While there will be yet another uproar from many to go the free-agent route — namely Dallas Keuchel, who remains unsigned – indications continue to be the Yankees aren’t planning to go in that direction, which was the case throughout the winter.
They will without question look hard into the trade market but that’s for later in the season as deals of that significance at this point of the season happen infrequently.
“Too many teams still trying to figure themselves out,” one opposing team executive said.
The Yankees started the season with two-fifths of their expected rotation on the injured list: Severino and CC Sabathia. The lefthander had a successful final tuneup Sunday in Tampa and is expected to rejoin the rotation this weekend against the White Sox at the Stadium.
Domingo German, who has been terrific two starts into the season, is likely to stay in the rotation when Sabathia gets back. Jonathan Loaisiga, who started Tuesday night, probably will be sent down when Sabathia is activated, but the news of the day means the righthander, whom the Yankees are sky high on and whom opposing team scouts have been raving about for a couple of years, very likely will be getting more starting opportunities as the season goes along.
The Yankees also have veteran lefthander Gio Gonzalez in their system. Gonzalez, a free agent signed to a minor-league deal late in the spring, was shelled in his first start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday, allowing eight runs in four innings. But in his second start Tuesday night, the 33-year-old, who is 127-97 with a 3.69 ERA in his 11 years in the majors, fared far better. He struck out 10 in six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and one walk.
Gonzalez, who will earn a base salary of $3 million if he’s on the big-league roster, has an out clause in his contract he can exercise April 20 if he is not.
Andujar taking forward step
Miguel Andujar faces the first major hurdle in his rehab from the right shoulder sprain that landed him on the injured list April 1, and the third baseman is “super excited” about it.
Andujar, who has been taking grounders but not throwing, will test out the shoulder on Wednesday by playing catch.
“Definitely excited,” Andujar said through his translator before Tuesday night’s game. “It’s going to be one of those things that, once I play catch, is going to tell you how am I really doing, what kind of progress I’ve made.”
Andujar suffered a slight tear in his labrum diving back to third base during a loss to the Orioles March 31. It is an injury that often requires surgery but doctors recommended a period of rehab, then reevaluation to see if that can be avoided.
“Hopefully it’s a big step for him,” Boone said of Andujar throwing Wednesday.
Boone has expressed optimism since Andujar went to the IL because of how the 24-year-old’s shoulder has responded, the pain steadily decreasing.
Is Andujar optimistic he’ll be able to avoid surgery?
“I’m following all the protocol that we have in place to heal and recover,” Andujar said. “Following every single step. But at the end, we have to wait and see how I’m going to feel once I go through the whole process. We have to wait and see really.”