Time’s running out for Luis Severino to return to Yankees this season

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There is not much clarity on Luis Severino’s latest setback or even if the right-hander will be back on a big league mound this year. Severino was shut down with shoulder tightness a week ago and an initial read of the MRI and second opinion confirmed that there is “no structural damage,”in the shoulder, the Yankees said. They aren’t saying, however, what actually caused the tightness that had Severino to shut himself down from a rehab start Aug. 12.

“We heard back on the second opinion, which agreed with the first opinion which said there was no structural damage there, it looked pretty good overall,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Thursday before the series-opener against the Twins at Yankee Stadium. “When we go out West, he may or may not actually physically see the second opinion (doctor) and (let the doctor) get hands on him. But in the meantime, he probably won’t throw through this week. That’s something that we’re kind of monitoring day by day.”

Severino has not pitched in the big leagues since October 2019. He has pitched 20.1innings since October 2018 and when he signed a $40 million contract extension with the Bombers. The 27-year old spent most of 2019 on the IL with a shoulder issue in spring training which turned into a lat issue. He tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow while pitching in the 2019 playoffs and had Tommy John surgery in March 2020.

He was making his comeback from the surgery, in his second rehab game, when he suffered a strained groin in June. He was ramping back up from that last week when he scratched himself from a scheduled start at Triple-A Scranton with tightness.

“It’s been a long road for Sevy and he’s worked so hard physically to get his body in position to be ready to do this,” Boone said, “and I feel like in a lot of ways, he’s physically in the best condition he’s ever been in. So I know he’s been frustrated, understandably by the setback he had first with the, with the leg and then now this.”

The window for Severino to pitch in the Yankees rotation this season is closing as well. Severino would need time to ramp up again to get back. That would likely include throwing on flat ground to work up to pitching off a mound. Then he would face live hitters and then possibly pitch in a rehab game. For injured pitchers the rehab has built in off days to see how they bounce back.

“I don’t know when he’s throwing the ball. And I don’t know when he’s back on the mound and things like that, and where we’re starting from,” Boone said. It would probably be silly for me to speculate on that. I mean, if he’s throwing the ball by Monday and ramping up by then we’ll just see.”

Severino was 42-26 with a 3.46 ERA over parts of five seasons in the big leagues before the injuries hit.

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Gio Urshela was on the field before Thursday’s game and is close to making a rehab game appearance, Boone said. The third baseman has been on the IL since Aug. 3 with a left hamstring strain.

“We’re hopeful he can start rehab by the end of the week, possibly Sunday,” Boone said.

Gleyber Torres, on the IL since Aug. 9 with a left thumb sprain, is getting close to starting some baseball activities again, which will give the Yankees a better idea of a timeline for his return.

“I think the plan is to get a bat in his hand potentially, tomorrow or the next day to start swinging and stuff,” Boone said. “So that’ll be a big step and kind of see where we’re at from that point, if we can start ramping them up from there. So he is getting to the point where he should have a bat in his hand the next couple days.”

Also, reliever Clay Holmes, who has been on the COVID-19 IL since Aug. 11, was expected to return to the ballpark Thursday.

“I have not seen him but he is expected to be here today. Hopefully throw a bullpen tomorrow and then be potentially activated by the end of the week,” Boone said.

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