Yankees see Joely Rodriguez, reliever from Joey Gallo trade, as lefty specialist

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ST. PETERSBURG — The Yankees also reshaped their bullpen after Thursday’s big trade with the Rangers. Bringing in left-handed reliever Joely Rodriguez, who comes with a 5.93 ERA in 31 appearances this season. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he sees him more as a left-handed specialist.

“A lot of our left-handed pitchers are guys that in some cases are better at getting righties out, so this is a guy that’s been really good at left-on-left. He’s been a tough matchup for lefties,” Boone said. “With us bringing over a guy like (Clay) Holmes, who’s been a guy that’s really tough on righties, maybe these guys can complement each other a little bit and hopefully take advantage of some situations we can put them in. So it’s definitely different. Little bit of a new look for us down there and some places and hopefully he can step in and be a part of a really good bullpen moving forward.”

Lefties are hitting .176/.282/.206 with 12 strikeouts and five walks in 39 plate appearances against Rodriguez this season. That has not always been the case, however, as lefties and righties have an identical .279 batting average against him over the four years of his big league career.

BACK TO THE GAME

Luis Severino, who has been rehabbing a right groin strain for over a month, will return to minor league rehab games Tuesday. The right-hander threw 49 pitches in three simulated innings before Thursday’s 14-0 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field.

“Another really good step for him. ... The slider was really good. The cutter is becoming a really good pitch. When he won the life on the fastball. It was there. flashed a really good changeup. So I’m excited about where he is,” Boone said. “I know he is too and another really good step for him.”

Severino was pitching in a minor league rehab game, trying to get back from March 2020 Tommy John surgery when he suffered the injury. The Yankees had hoped to have him back this month, but he is likely a month away.

ALLEN OUT

Greg Allen was scratched from Thursday’s series-finale with a sore right knee. The speedy outfielder, who scored the insurance run in the 10th inning of the Yankees’ win on Tuesday night, reached base that inning after he was hit on the knee with a pitch.

VOIT VERY CLOSE

Luke Voit took live at-bats off Severino before Thursday’s game in preparation for coming off the injured list as soon as this weekend. According to an industry source, Voit has had some interest from other teams in the Yankees trade talks.

Boone was vague when talking about Voit’s return.

“We’re kind of still working through that. We wanted to get some more live at-bats. That’s still a little bit of a fluid situation,” Boone said. " But physically, I feel like he’s ready. It’s just a matter of how many live pads we want to see.”

That could be accomplished at the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa, with the team in Miami, or the Class A Tampa Tarpons will be playing in West Palm Beach, less than an hour from Miami, if they wanted to get him at-bats in a game.

Voit, who led the majors in home runs during last year’s COVID-19 abbreviated season, has had limited game reps this season.

Voit was held out of the first 34 games this season by the knee surgery and then he suffered a strained oblique and missed another 23 games. In the 29 games he has played, Voit has struggled to get going, hitting .241/.328/.370 with three homers and 11 RBI.

JUDGE COLLISION

In the Rays’ 10-run bottom of the sixth inning, right fielder Aaron Judge collided knee-first with the short wall in foul territory of right field. Boone removed him in the top of the seventh, but said it was just to get the slugger off his feet in a blow out.

Judge returned on Tuesday night from a 10-day, 9-game quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus.

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