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Luis Cessa continues strong bid to make Yankees

New York Yankees pitcher Luis Cessa throws on

New York Yankees pitcher Luis Cessa throws on the field during the first day of Spring Training at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida on Feb. 13, 2019. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

SARASOTA, Fla. -- With CC Sabathia and Luis Severino set to begin the season on the injured list for the Yankees, their rotation slots as of now will be filled by two of these three righthanders: Luis Cessa, Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga. 

Cessa started Saturday night and allowed one hit in four scoreless innings in a 6-1 win over the Orioles, giving him a 1.00 ERA in three appearances. He retired the first 11 batters he faced and struck out four. 

“I maybe have a little more confidence in myself,” Cessa said.

Cessa, 26, is out of options. His fastball, which can sit in the range of 96 to 98 mph, and at-times-nasty slider make him a virtual guarantee to make the club out of camp because if he doesn’t, another team almost certainly will claim him.

“He would get snapped up in about a second,” a National League scout said.

Cessa went 1-4 with a 5.24 ERA in 16 games (five starts) in eight stints with the Yankees last season and is 5-11 with a 4.71 ERA in 43 games (19 starts) in parts of three seasons with the Yankees.

“His fastball, for registering high on the gun, it’s a pitch that hitters see pretty well, so if he doesn’t locate it really well, that’s a pitch that sometimes has gotten him into trouble,” Aaron Boone said before the game. “But we’ve seen him have dominant stretches too . . . He’s going to play an important role for us.” 

Hicks still down

Aaron Hicks has been out since March 1 with a stiff lower back, and there is no  timetable for when the centerfielder might return.

“We are going to treat it really conservatively, especially with the off day coming up, and he’ll see the doctor Monday [the off day] as well,” Boone said. “I don’t think he’s in a lot of pain or anything. It’s probably something he could fight through, but we’re kind of having him slow-play it because there is that discomfort in there.” 

Hicks, recently signed to a seven-year, $70 million extension, took dry swings and did some light throwing Friday but didn’t do anything Saturday and likely won’t Sunday, either.

“Kind of waiting until he sees the doctor and go from there,” Boone said.

CC slowly progressing

Sabathia threw 31 pitches in his fourth bullpen session of spring training Saturday afternoon. He said he believes live batting practice will be his next step but could not say for sure when.

Tulo OK

Troy Tulowitzki, who has cooled off  since his hot start (two homers in his first two starts), started back-to-back for the first time Thursday and Friday and came through it fine.

“That’s one of the things I checked in on today,” Boone said. “He came out of that well. He’ll play [Sunday] and we’ll ramp him up even more, play him six, seven innings. But he’s responded well physically.”

Tarpley strong again

Lefthanded reliever Stephen Tarpley, a September call-up last year who never seemed overwhelmed, continues to give the Yankees something to think about for their final couple of bullpen spots. Tarpley, 26, who threw a perfect fifth inning Saturday, has not allowed a run in five appearances. He has  allowed two hits, walked  one and struck out three.

“His two-seam action tonight was really good,” Boone said. “Probably the best we’ve seen him so far in camp.”

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