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James Paxton feeling better, says tight left glute won't impact his ALDS start

Yankees starting pitcher James Paxton pumps his fist

Yankees starting pitcher James Paxton pumps his fist after the top of the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

ARLINGTON, Texas — That tight left glute muscle that prompted James Paxton to leave Friday night’s start after one inning?

On Friday, Paxton characterized it as "not anything serious” and Aaron Boone called it “kind of a minor deal.”

A day later, both parties remained on the same page, saying there are no indications that Paxton’s next start, assumed to be in either Game 1 or 2 of the ALDS against the Twins, will be compromised in any way.

“Feels better today,” said Paxton, who underwent an MRI Saturday morning. “We found out it’s just some nerve irritation. I’m on some pills to help calm it down but confident I’ll be ready to go.”

Paxton finished the regular season 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA and entered Friday night at 10-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his previous 10 starts. He said he won’t be limited in any way in his ALDS preparation. “Today I’m going to take it easy, let it calm down, then I’ll get back to my routine tomorrow and get ready to roll,” he said.

Said Boone: “We feel like it’s not going to alter anything for him moving forward as far as the work he’ll do from now until he goes back out there. So [we] feel like overall it was pretty good news and encouraged by how he’s feeling.”

CC on hold

After further discussion, the Yankees decided not to pitch CC Sabathia out of the bullpen in the Texas series, something they spent the week saying they would do.

Boone said Sabathia, who made the first regular-season bullpen appearance of his career Tuesday against the Rays, had not experienced any physical setbacks with his troublesome right knee.

“I just feel like it’s better coming off the relief outing to give him the break and hopefully that serves him better moving forward,” said Boone, adding that Sabathia likely will pitch in a simulated game Tuesday or Wednesday. “We feel good enough about it that we want to make sure he’s physically in the best spot he can be in. We feel like we know he’s game for any role we put him in. Feel like he’ll be ready for that if we put him in that spot.” 

Asked directly if Sabathia, set to retire after the season, definitely will be on the 25-man ALDS roster, Boone said: “He will probably be on the roster, yes.”

Extra bases

Boone said the Yankees are still debating whether to take 12 or 13 pitchers for their ALDS roster. The safe bet is the latter … In an expected move, centerfielder Aaron Hicks (flexor strain, right elbow) was transferred to the 60-day injured list. Righty reliever David Hale (lumbar spine strain) was reinstated from the 60-day IL. 

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