TAMPA, Fla. — Aaron Boone has said throughout spring training that Luis Severino looked “sharp” in his bullpen sessions and simulated games. That continued in his exhibition debut Thursday in the Yankees’ 7-6 loss to the Phillies at Steinbrenner Field. Severino allowed an unearned run, three hits and a walk in 3 1⁄3 innings and struck out three.
“Everything was working,” he said. “I wanted to work on my changeup, I threw it a lot and they worked.”
Severino blossomed last season, going 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA, and finished third in the American League Cy Young voting behind Corey Kluber and Chris Sale. He ranked third in the AL in ERA and WHIP (1.040) and fourth in strikeouts (230).
He said he wants to be mentioned in the same breath as Kluber, Sale and Clayton Kershaw. “I want to be on that level, of course,” said Severino, whose fastball sat from 95 to 97 mph Thursday and peaked at 98. “But I have to work on it. Those guys have been among the best for a long time. I have to improve more, try to be more perfect with my pitches and keep working on stuff.”
Severino threw a career-high 193 1⁄3 innings last season, 209 1⁄3 counting the playoffs. To give his arm a break, he didn’t start his throwing program until December, compared with November the year before. The Yankees also went slower with him at the start of camp. He made his first exhibition appearance last year on Feb. 26.
“I thought the command was pretty good, threw some good sliders and changeups as well,” Boone said. “You saw the velocity. I thought [the delivery] was free and easy. For first game out, I was really pleased.”
Boone also has been impressed with Severino’s work ethic. “One of the best pitchers in the league, but you sense the hunger that’s there,” he said. “There’s no satisfaction with what he’s done personally. You get that sense he expects to go out there and be great. Hunger is a good thing for a ballplayer, and he appears to have it.”
Frazier, Ellsbury updates
Clint Frazier (concussion) again reported progress. He rode the exercise bike for 20 minutes and upped his baseball activities by taking dry swings. Frazier said that since suffering the concussion Feb. 24, he’s had two MRIs and a CT scan that all came back clean.
“More good news in the right way,” Boone said.
Jacoby Ellsbury (right oblique) could resume running Saturday. “Hopefully, baseball activities start shortly thereafter,” Boone said, adding that he thinks there is time to build up Ellsbury in time for Opening Day.
First round of cuts
The Yankees announced that lefthander Justus Sheffield, who had an 11.83 ERA in three outings, has been reassigned to minor-league camp. Also reassigned there were pitchers Cale Coshow, Raynel Espinal, Dillon Tate and Trevor Lane and catcher Chace Numata.