Jordan Montgomery throws five scoreless innings against Blue Jays in another strong spring start for Yankees

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Kristie Ackert, New York Daily News
·3 min read
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DUNEDIN — Jordan Montgomery has had the answers this spring. The Yankees left-hander was one of the question marks hanging over the rotation heading into this season after pitching to a 5.90 ERA in 2020, his first “full” season back from Tommy John surgery. Montgomery did not exactly cement his place in the rotation.

But this spring, Montgomery has been one of the answers. Wednesday, he threw five scoreless innings, striking out four, in the Yankees’ 1-0 win over the Blue Jays at TD Bank Park.

“He was really sharp, I thought really good with all his pitches, especially incorporated the cutter a lot today and that was very effective with him but he was pounding the strike zone and on the attack kind of all day,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He was really in command of his stuff and kind of kept his pitch count down so he was able to go out back out there for the fifth.

“A really strong outing, especially, as we get close to go time.”

That not only gave Montgomery more confidence heading into the season, but it certainly adds some confidence to a rotation with very little certainty. Behind Gerrit Cole the Yankees signed two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, who is coming off a shoulder injury, and traded for Jameson Taillon, who is returning with a revamped delivery from his second Tommy John surgery. They have Domingo German coming back from missing the 2020 season while serving a suspension under the domestic violence policy. And they have Montgomery, too.

The Yankees have insisted that Montgomery had some bad luck last season, having his schedule the most affected by the COVID shutdowns, and that they expected a strong return this year.

So far, he hasn’t disappointed, and Wednesday just added to the confidence he has.

“I’m in a pretty good spot right now. I’m just trying to keep finding my tempo and keep duplicating my delivery,” said Montgomery, who has allowed one earned run in 10 innings pitched this spring. “The more I do that, the more I’m going to continually find a better rhythm and just make pitches and execute more pitches.”

INJURY UPDATES

Kyle Higashioka, who was scratched from the lineup on Tuesday with soreness in his side, was making enough improvement that Aaron Boone has the backup catcher penciled in for Saturday night’s game.

“Higgy had a good day yesterday, did not do baseball activities, but did some gym stuff did treatment and was asymptomatic,” Boone said before Wednesday’s game. “So, I am optimistic. I think he’s scheduled to go Saturday in Sarasota. That would be the hope, but we’ll see where we are these next few days if we’re able to ramp up and hopefully baseball activities a little bit today and Friday ahead of that.”

Higashioka is pretty much a lock for the backup catcher spot. He was the starting catcher and personal backstop to Gerrit Cole last season. Miguel Andujar, who is dealing with soreness in his right hand and wrist dating back to winter ball in the Dominican Republic, is making progress, but isn’t as close.

“He isn’t hitting or anything yet. I know there were some improvements from a symptoms standpoint yesterday,” Boone said. “He’s still in treatment mode there. He was out taking ground balls yesterday. So feel like the needle is moving a little bit , but nothing imminent as far as getting back out and playing.”

Andujar was in a battle for a roster spot, having lost his starting spot to Gio Urshela while he missed most of the 2019 season recovering from shoulder surgery. The Yankees were trying him in the outfield to try to get his bat into the lineup, but are currently overstocked out there.

NO REST

Thursday is a scheduled day off for the Yankees, but Kluber and Cole will be back at work. For the second time, Kluber will spend the off day throwing live batting practice. Cole will throw a bullpen.