Yankees' LHP James Paxton during spring training in Tampa, FL...

Yankees' LHP James Paxton during spring training in Tampa, FL on Thursday Feb. 20, 2020. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

TAMPA, Fla. — It’s far too soon to say James Paxton is ahead of schedule.

But what can be accurately said about the lefthander, who had back surgery Feb. 5, is that he has experienced no setbacks in his rehab. If that continues to be the case, he is on target to return as early as May.

“Everything’s been going really well,” Paxton said Saturday. “[The back] has responded really well to all of the therapy so far [and] the workouts and stuff. I think as long as you keep on going in that direction, I could be throwing in 10 days.”

After the surgery, Paxton was told he could begin playing catch in four to six weeks. If he begins doing that in 10 days, that would be closer to the four-week timeline.

“Everything’s been going really well,” said Paxton, who went 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA in his first season in pinstripes. “I’m optimistic.”

More Judge progress

Aaron Judge, limited since Tuesday’s first full-squad workout because of soreness in his right shoulder, took batting practice indoors Friday and repeated that Saturday. Additionally, for the third straight day, Judge soft-tossed up to 90 feet.

“He’s good, he’s fine,” Aaron Boone said. “We’ll be conservative with how we build him up hitting. I think he was 40 or 50 swings off a tee today. He’ll probably graduate to soft-toss [in the cage]. We won’t rush anything, but he’s fine.”

Boone did not have a date for when Judge will appear in an exhibition game.

“I’m sure we’ll take it conservative as far as getting him outside hitting and having real at-bats,” Boone said. “Physically he’s fine. Even when we shut him down from hitting [a little over two weeks ago], he was doing all his defensive work and running and all his workouts. We’ll take it slow more because of the calendar. I’m not sure exactly when he’ll debut yet.”

Frazier’s fielding

Prospect Clint Frazier, whose hitting seems more than big league-ready but whose struggles in the field were well-documented last season, started in leftfield Saturday and made three routine plays without difficulty.

“For the most part, I felt good out there,” he said. “I caught all three balls, so that’s all you can really build off of, but I feel confident out there and I’m ready to go Monday.”

Local ties

West Islip’s Nick Tropeano, who grew up a Yankees fan and pitched collegiately at Stony Brook, allowed one run and two hits and struck out one in the sixth inning of the Yankees’ 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays on Saturday. Tropeano, 29, a fifth-round pick of the Astros in 2011, signed a minor-league deal in January with the Yankees. The righthander, who has gone 12-14 with a 4.51 ERA in five seasons with the Astros and Angels, is among a sizable group of contenders vying for a bullpen spot.

Extra bases

Gio Urshela, who entered camp all but locked in as the everyday third baseman, made a terrific play to end the fourth. He ranged to his right on Randal Grichuk’s grounder, with his momentum carrying him into foul ground, and threw out Grichuk by a step with a strong one-hop throw . . . Boone said Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton and Brett Gardner will make their exhibition debuts Monday night at home against Pittsburgh. Gerrit Cole will make his first start in that game . . . Mike King, among the club’s top pitching prospects and a contender for a rotation spot, struck out one and allowed two hits and a walk in 1 2/3 scoreless innings. The 24-year-old righthander made his big-league debut last Sept. 27. . . Luis Cessa, also in contention for a rotation spot, pitched a perfect 1 1/3 innings.

With David Lennon

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