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Luis Severino starts rehab for Yankees with 25 pain-free throws

Brett Gardner slated to start the season in centerfield for injured teammate Aaron Hicks.

Yankees pitcher Luis Severino throws a bullpen session

Yankees pitcher Luis Severino throws a bullpen session at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa on Feb. 14, 2019. Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

TAMPA, Fla.— Step one in Luis Severino’s rehab was a positive one.

The righthander picked up a ball Wednesday morning for the first time since he was shut down March 5 with rotator cuff inflammation and made 25 throws at 60 feet.

“I don’t feel anything at all,” Severino said of his right shoulder afterward.

The 25-year-old did say he felt “a little bit off,” but only mechanically.

“I’ve been out for two weeks,” he said. “We’ll see tomorrow if I feel better.”

Severino, whom general manager Brian Cashman has said likely won’t be back until May at the earliest, is scheduled to play catch again on Thursday, this time making 50 throws at 60 feet.

“That’s a good thing,” he said of not feeling any discomfort in the shoulder. “I know I’m not [going to pitch] maybe the first month of the season, but I feel happy that I’ll be back and feel 100 percent and be able to help my team.”

Now in center ...

With Aaron Hicks set to start the season on the injured list, that means centerfield duties will fall to Brett Gardner, who will shift there from left. Before the Yankees played the Astros Wednesday in West Palm Beach, Aaron Boone said Gardner will start in center in the March 28 season opener and then, after the March 29 off day, likely play six straight.

“He would be the guy,” Boone said.

Hicks is eligible to come off the injured list on April 4. If he’s not ready and Gardner needs a day off, Boone said Tyler Wade could be an option for center. Wade has been used primarily as an infielder in his career, though he’s seen some limited time in all three outfield positions.

“I think a lot of it kind of depends on how long Hicks is out,” Boone said. “But [if] we feel a need to give a guy a day off here and there, yeah, Tyler Wade comes into that mix, potentially, sure.”

Wade exits

Wade, who started Wednesday’s game in centerfield, was removed in the fifth inning because of hip tightness but did not sound too concerned afterward.

“A lot of guys are hurt right now, so I didn’t want to keep pushing it,” said Wade, who went 0-for-2 with a strikeout. “Just be precautionary.”

Wade added that he usually deals with tight hips anyway, and the long bus ride from Tampa to West Palm Beach may have aggravated the issue. The plan is for him to return rather than stay with the Yankees for Thursday’s game against the Cardinals in nearby Jupiter.

“I don’t think it’s a big thing,” Boone said.

Mazzilli hospitalized after ball hits head

Yankees guest instructor Lee Mazzilli was struck in the head by a ball in batting practice and taken to a local hospital. Team spokesman Jason Zillo said in an email that Mazzilli “will spend the night at the hospital for observation.”

Extra bases

Jonathan Holder was used as an “opener” for Wednesday’s game and pitched two scoreless innings in the Yankees’ 2-1 loss to the Astros at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. “I don’t have a problem with it,” Holder said. “I like it. It’s cool. It’s innovative.” ... Greg Bird said he was fine despite taking a fastball from Wade Miley off his right elbow in the first inning . . .  Gary Sanchez’s RBI double accounted for the Yankees only run.

                                                                         With AP

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