Giancarlo Stanton's comebacker gives Luis Severino a scare
TAMPA, Fla. — Luis Severino saw his season flash before his eyes in the form of a scorched Giancarlo Stanton comebacker.
OK, so it wasn’t quite that dramatic.
Early Thursday morning, Severino and Aroldis Chapman faced hitters in a simulated game on one of the back fields here. Stanton and Gary Sanchez were among those hitters.
“It’s not fun,” a smiling Severino said of facing the sluggers.
He smiled again when he recalled Stanton’s final at-bat of the session. That’s when the 6-6, 245-pounder sent a screaming one-hopper up the middle.
Severino gloved it. Potential crisis averted.
“Almost hit me,” he said before laughing. “I have great hands.”
Stanton was asked if he was worried when his comebacker looked as if it might plant itself in Severino’s chest.
“No. It was in his glove before anyone saw it anyway,” he said.
Stanton had the hardest-hit ball all of last season — a 121.7-mph homer off the Rangers’ Ariel Jurado on Aug. 9 — and he was tied for fourth, with the Mariners’ Nelson Cruz, in average exit velocity at 94.9 mph. (Aaron Judge was third at 95.0 mph.)
Manager Aaron Boone, who was watching from behind a protective screen near the mound, said he wasn’t concerned about his ace.
“No, because I knew he didn’t quite clip it that much,” Boone said.
“I was right behind Sevy, and it felt like you could react a little bit to it, and he reacted properly to it. That one didn’t make my heart skip a beat.”
Stanton initially was not listed as one of the hitters to participate in the simulated game but made himself a late addition.
“Getting work in, same as in the cage, nothing different,” he said before playing leftfield and going 0-for-2 with a walk and a run in the Yankees’ 8-6 victory over the Pirates at Steinbrenner Field.
“[Severino and Chapman] ain’t going to make it easy out there for me . . . See the best guys in the league to prepare you for a season, that’s what you want.”
That Stanton volunteered to face two of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the major leagues didn’t surprise Boone.
“That’s ‘G,’ ” Boone said. “G’s a worker. He’s a guy that’s in the cage [facing] the high-velocity breaking balls, as nasty as can be. He likes those opportunities to steal reps if he can get them.
“That’s just really consistent with what we’ve seen from Giancarlo since he got here. I’ve talked about his professionalism, but this is a guy that’s focused and works. He works hard at his craft.”