Yankees pitcher Clarke Schmidt throws during the first inning of...

Yankees pitcher Clarke Schmidt throws during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against Atlanta on Feb. 26 in Tampa, Fla. Credit: AP/David J. Phillip

TAMPA, Fla. — Clarke Schmidt was all but certain to start the season in the Yankees’ bullpen in some role, probably as a swingman.

That changed a little more than a week ago when Carlos Rodon went down with a forearm strain and general manager Brian Cashman announced the lefthander would start the season on the injured list.

That meant Schmidt, who was being considered along with Domingo German for the fifth starter spot (though German, with a healthy spring training, was a near-lock for the job), likely would be in the rotation to break camp.

“His feel and ownership of the cutter, it’s been a big thing for him this spring and it’s looked the part,” Aaron Boone said Thursday before Schmidt made his third exhibition start.

Schmidt has been trying to incorporate a cutter into his repertoire and has been mostly successful. The righthander was effective again Thursday night in a 9-6 loss to the Pirates, striking out seven in five hitless innings in which he did not walk a batter.

“He’s got a great feel of it, an ownership of it and confidence in it, frankly,” Boone said of the cutter. “Which is something, I think, is a game-changer for him as a potential starter against lefthanded hitters. He’s got the good sinker, he’s got the really good slider. He’s got a change [up], but that cutter is just another element for him that should serve him well.”

Extra bases

Jose Trevino, who suffered a right wrist sprain a week ago during an at-bat against the Red Sox, picked up a bat for the first time since the injury on Thursday and hit off a tee. “It went well,” Boone said . . . Boone said Rodon, expected back by mid-April at the earliest, should begin his throwing program “in the next couple of days.” . . . Nestor Cortes, brought along a bit slower than his rotation brethren because of a hamstring strain that forced him to pull out of the World Baseball Classic in mid-February, is scheduled to make his first exhibition start Saturday against Toronto in Dunedin . . . Boone said Tommy Kahnle, who also will start the season on the IL (biceps tendinitis), will start his throwing program Friday . . . The Yankees assigned centerfielder Jasson Dominguez to minor-league camp Thursday night.

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