Carlos Rodon had been throwing bullpens for a while, continuing to do so during the Yankees most recent trip West.
But the lefthander, signed to a six-year, $162-million free-agent deal in the offseason and sidelined since the spring with a forearm strain, took the first truly significant step of his rehab Wednesday afternoon.
Rodon faced hitters for the first time in the process, doing so in a 20-pitch simulated game, which took place before Wednesday night’s game against the White Sox was postponed because of smokey conditions caused by the wild-fires in Canada.
“It was good,” said Rodon, whose fastball sat in the 92-94 mph range. “Hope for the next one I can refine some stuff and put the ball in the zone a little more.”
Rodon faced the switch-hitting Oswaldo Cabrera and the lefty-swinging Jake Bauers.
“Jake said he thought it was coming out good,” Rodon said of his stuff. “I was telling him I wish I would have thrown a couple more sliders for strikes to him, but other than it was some good feedback.”
Aaron Boone said he believes Rodon will need another two to three simulated games, at least, before the determination is made to send the pitcher out on a rehab assignment, the official start of a player’s rehab clock (30 days).
The reason Rodon felt the day was a true step of significance.
“Stepping on the mound and facing hitters, that’s a step forward to the end goal of pitching here for the boys,” Rodon said. “So, yes, it was a big step.”
Aaron Judge was officially placed on the IL Wednesday with a sprain in his right big toe, suffered Saturday night in Los Angeles when the rightfielder crashed through a bullpen door making a catch on a deep drive by J.D. Martinez. Boone said it was too soon to give a timetable . . . Veteran OF Billy McKinney, a Yankee back in 2018 and a Met in 2021, was signed to a big-league contract and brought up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he’s had a standout season so far . . . Righty reliever Ryan Weber was placed on the 60-day IL with a tear in his UCL.