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Yankees prospect Clarke Schmidt finally begins throwing program

Yankees starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt delivers against the

Yankees starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt delivers against the Marlins during the first inning of an MLB game at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 27, 2020. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

CLEVELAND — At long last, some progress for Clarke Schmidt.

The righthander, among the Yankees' top pitching prospects, entered spring training a long-shot candidate to win the job of fifth starter ultimately captured by Domingo German. But the 25-year-old righthander never got into the competition.

On Feb. 22, Aaron Boone announced that Schmidt would be shut down "probably three to four weeks" with what the club called a "right common extensor tendon" issue.

Weeks later, that was changed to a right elbow strain, and Schmidt — still unable to pick up a baseball and start throwing — began the season on the 60-day injured list.

Boone disclosed before Saturday night’s game against Cleveland, however, that Schmidt has begun a throwing program.

"He’s thrown now two or three times in his catch play, and each time has gone well," Boone said. "So hopefully he’s on his way now and starting to build up."

Schmidt's build-up will take at least six weeks and perhaps longer because he had almost no spring training.

"Obviously, it will be a while because he’s starting from scratch, essentially," Boone said, "but he’s done well."

Garcia on Monday?

Boone said the club’s top pitching prospect, Deivi Garcia, "is in line" to start Monday’s series opener in Baltimore against the Orioles.

"Not quite fully committed to that," Boone said, adding that the situation could change if something unforeseen were to happen in either Saturday night’s or Sunday afternoon's game.

Rock 'em sock 'em

Rougned Odor’s bat has sparked the Yankees several times since he joined the team April 11 — including Friday night, when he hit a key two-run homer in a 5-3 victory — and his overall energy has had a positive effect in the dugout and in the clubhouse.

"Roogie’s hard-nosed. I mean, it’s obvious," reliever Darren O’Day said with a smile, referencing Odor’s famous right hand delivered to the face of Jose Bautista during an on-field incident between the Blue Jays and Rangers on May 15, 2016, something that Odor generally declines to publicly discuss. "He’s tough, he’s got a quick right as well, so if we get into any scraps, we’re set there. But he plays hard. That’s what you ask of your teammates. He’s given everything he’s got and he’s run into some big home runs. He’s a guy not afraid of situations. Not afraid of much, apparently."

Lineup maneuvering

For the second straight game, Boone had Giancarlo Stanton batting second and Aaron Judge third.

Stanton entered Friday's game in a 3-for-34 skid but hit two impressive home runs that left his bat at 118.0 and 115.7 mph.

Judge has hit in the two-hole the vast majority of his career, 274 out of 441 games.

"Really, those two spots for me, if I’m going with both of those guys, are a little bit interchangeable," Boone said. "It’s a little bit of, ‘Hey, let’s just stick with it.’ I think Aaron’s liked moving down into that slot. I may continue to tinker with some things, but right now I like how it sets up."

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