NEW YORK (AP) — The hazardous air quality at Yankee Stadium didn't prevent Carlos Rodón from putting in some work.
With several members of the New York Yankees' front office watching closely, Rodón threw 20 pitches in a simulated game on the field Wednesday afternoon — the latest step in his long rehabilitation from back trouble.
The left-hander faced teammates Jake Bauers and Oswaldo Cabrera under a hazy sky in the Bronx, which smelled of smoke because of Canadian wildfires that disrupted professional sports schedules along the East Coast of the United States.
“It’s a little cloudy out there. It’s not so clear. The visibility’s not so great. Yeah, that was interesting," Rodón told reporters in the clubhouse. “I was just focused on trying to throw the ball over the plate, really. I didn’t think about the breathing part. But yeah, I mean, it’s thick air, that’s for sure."
A little while after Rodón was on the mound, the unhealthy air prompted Major League Baseball to postpone New York's game against the Chicago White Sox — along with the Detroit Tigers' game in Philadelphia.
To make it up, the Yankees and White Sox were scheduled for a single-admission doubleheader Thursday beginning at 4:05 p.m.
Lance Lynn (4-6, 6.55 ERA) will pitch the opener for Chicago against Luis Severino (0-1, 5.28). Mike Clevinger (3-3, 4.13) goes in Game 2 against rookie Randy Vásquez (0-1, 3.86), set to make his second major league start. New York will add Vásquez to the roster as its 27th man for the twinbill.
“I’m assuming if Major League Baseball is comfortable setting up a doubleheader tomorrow, they have some type of information that it should be better than what it is today, or at least safe," Chicago manager Pedro Grifol said.
Before leaving the ballpark, several White Sox played catch in the outfield.
Rodón is yet to pitch for the Yankees after signing a $162 million, six-year contract as a free agent in December. The two-time All-Star began the season on the injured list with a left forearm strain that’s healed, but an ailing back has slowed his return significantly.
He’s been throwing pain-free and gradually ramping up since receiving a round of injections last month. Rodón said he used all his pitches Wednesday and his fastball was clocked at 92-94 mph. He called it “a good start” and “a big step” toward "the end goal of pitching here for the boys.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Rodón will probably need to face hitters at least two more times before going on a minor league rehab assignment. Rodón's next session is tentatively scheduled for Sunday.
“I was just like kind of feeling the slope again almost," Rodón said. “Hopefully the next one I can refine some stuff and put the ball in the zone a little more.”
He said he received some good feedback from his new teammates.
“Jake was saying that he thought it was coming out good, and I was telling him I wish I would have thrown a couple more sliders for strikes to him," Rodón said. "I threw one slider for a strike to Oswaldo that was pretty good and then fastballs were up in the zone where I wanted and got a couple swing and misses. Good enough for today.”
As planned Tuesday night, the Yankees placed slugger Aaron Judge on the 10-day injured list Wednesday with a sprained and bruised right big toe — retroactive to Sunday. The reigning AL MVP got hurt Saturday when he banged into the outfield fence making a sensational catch at Dodger Stadium.
Judge was given a platelet-rich plasma injection, but the team has no timetable yet for his return.
“And I don't think we will until probably through the weekend. Especially now he's had the injection, so he's pretty sore from that,” Boone said. “So it's really about getting the swelling out of there, which I'm sure will be the next several days, and then hopefully have a better idea of the timeline possibly by the weekend.”
New York called up outfielder Billy McKinney from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and transferred reliever Ryan Weber (right forearm strain) to the 60-day IL.
The 28-year-old McKinney was batting .274 with nine homers, 25 RBIs and an .899 OPS in 40 games at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He was traded by the Yankees to Toronto in July 2018 and re-signed to a minor league contract last December.
“A little defensive flexibility. Been rakin' for a month and a half now. Really, really playing well. Kind of earned the opportunity,” Boone said.
AP freelance writer Larry Fleisher contributed to this report.