TORONTO — Luis Severino appears to have dodged a major bullet after not being as fortunate with a baseball.
The Yankees ace was drilled on the left side of his upper back by a line drive off the bat of Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile while standing in the outfield during batting practice before Saturday afternoon’s game against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Severino, 13-6 with a 3.03 ERA this season, crumpled to the ground and immediately was tended to by trainer Steve Donohue and manager Joe Girardi, who rushed to the outfield.
After being down for several moments, Severino got back to his feet with a smile and continued to play catch, taking plenty of verbal abuse from laughing teammates. Then he walked with Donohue to the dugout and into the clubhouse.
“It got me good, but I’m all right,” Severino said after the Yankees’ 5-1 victory, which clinched a playoff berth. “I wasn’t expecting that. That’s why I ended up on the ground.”
This was the second time in just over a month that a Yankees pitcher got hit during batting practice. Before a game against the Red Sox on Aug. 12, rookie lefthander Jordan Montgomery took a shot near his right ear while signing autographs for fans seated in rightfield.
No one in the clubhouse seemed as happy as Greg Bird, who missed all of last season while recovering from shoulder surgery and the vast majority of this year with a bone bruise in his right ankle.
“It’s been an interesting year,” said Bird, whose three-run homer in the fifth inning Saturday turned a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead. “Just for me to be able to be back and feel like I’m part of the team and contribute how I can is huge. We have a great group. For me, that’s what motivates me is these guys and the work they put in. When you’re not playing, you get a different view, and you see what everyone goes through and the ups and downs, so just being able to come back and be a part of it is huge for me.”
CC’ing it coming
CC Sabathia, who entered a 30-day rehab program for alcohol addiction on the eve of the 2015 wild-card game against Houston, mostly stayed on the periphery Saturday as teammates drenched each other in beer and champagne. But in his own way, Sabathia, revered in all corners of the clubhouse, enjoyed it as much as anyone, watching his younger teammates’ celebration with a smile that never left his face.
“I felt like the talent was always in here,” Sabathia said. “It was just a matter of when it was going to come through, and it came through really quick for us.”
Warren, Hicks on schedule
Adam Warren (lower back spasms) and Aaron Hicks (left oblique strain) are expected to return at some point this week. Warren reported no issues after throwing a 25-pitch bullpen session here on Saturday and said that if he comes through a scheduled simulated game Tuesday with no problems, he’ll be activated shortly thereafter. Hicks had five at-bats in an instructional league game Saturday morning in Tampa. Girardi said the outfielder is slated to play there Monday through Thursday and could be activated by Friday.
The Yankees remained four games behind the Red Sox with eight to play, and Boston has a magic number of five to clinch the AL East title. The Yankees’ win reduced their magic number to clinch the top wild-card spot to three. The Twins’ magic number to clinch the second wild-card spot is four.
Just as the Yankees began the season with a 38-23 stretch, they have gone 38-23 in their last 61 games. In between was a 10-22 slump that dropped them to 48-45 on July 19.