TAMPA, Fla. — The pitchers who figure to be No. 1 and No. 2, in some order, in the Yankees’ rotation this season pitched together Saturday afternoon.
Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka threw bullpen sessions at the same time and were watched by key Yankees decision-makers, including manager Aaron Boone and pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
The Opening Day starter, of course, won’t be determined based on a bullpen session during the first week of spring training, and Boone said he hasn’t made up his mind who will get the assignment March 29 in Toronto.
Based on overall past performance, it would be Tanaka, who has started the last three season openers. Based on last year, it’s not close. Severino, who finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting and started the AL wild-card game, would get the nod.
“The one good thing with our guys is, with other teams I think it’s more obvious sometimes — ‘OK, this guy pitches Opening Day,’ ” Boone said. “But we have guys like Tanaka, obviously, and CC [Sabathia] that have been aces of a staff. We have Sevy that became what he became a year ago.
“To me, the order in which they pitch isn’t necessarily as big a deal. So a lot that will go into that is where we view these guys physically, how we want to build in rest the first month or two of the season. And try to look ahead a little bit at how they match up against some teams that a certain slot might go against. Those will all be things that will factor in.”
Severino, coming off a season in which he threw a career-high 193 1⁄3 innings — 209 1⁄3 counting the playoffs — would seem to be the favorite to get the call in Toronto.
“He’s one of those guys that I see right now with a hunger to be great,” Boone said. “He’s a guy that wants to be known as not just a great pitcher but a horse in the rotation. We’ll be cautious with him to a degree, but we’re also leaning on him heavily to be the guy we started to see last year.”
Yankees check out Lincecum
The Yankees were among the 15 to 20 teams that sent a scout to watch Tim Lincecum’s workout Thursday as general manager Brian Cashman continues to look for rotation depth. It remains to be seen how aggressive the Yankees will be in bidding for the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner, who last pitched in the majors in 2016 and is 33. But they took the workout seriously, sending one of their top professional scouts, Jay Darnell.
Aaron Judge taking fly balls in the vicinity of centerfield during drills Saturday was enough to prompt two questions about the 6-7, 282-pounder playing there, which Boone laughed off.
“You never say never, you never know how things shake out,” he said, “but, no, there’s no plan for that right now.”