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TAMPA — Luis Severino is champing at the bit to get back on the mound as a starting pitcher in The Bronx — with a 97 mph fastball in the opening days of spring training to prove it.

The Yankees right-hander, who has started just three games since signing a four-year, $40 million extension in February 2019 (and none over the past two seasons), arrived at camp this spring ready to contribute again in a meaningful way.

“I haven’t freaking started a game since [2019], so even that gets me going,” Severino said. “I know that I need to be healthy. I know the team needs me because we can’t put all the weight on [Gerrit] Cole. We need more guys to step up and do a good job for the team — not only me, but Monty [Jordan Montgomery] and Jamo [Jameson Taillon] too.”

Severino’s return to 2018 form would be a huge boost for the Yankees’ rotation, which still has its share of question marks behind Cole.

In his first action facing live hitters on Tuesday, Severino got off to an encouraging start, pitching the equivalent of two innings in which he showed no mercy on his teammates.

New York Yankees pitcher Luis Severino pitching live practice
Luis Severino’s last Yankees start came in 2019.
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

“He joked around, he said, ‘Yeah, my bullpens I’ve been 91-92 [mph], I’m trying to get 93 today,’ ” Aaron Judge said. “The first pitch he threw to me was 97. So I think he’s going to be in a good position. … To pair him up with Cole and the rest of our staff is going to be something special we’ve been missing.”

Severino’s next time facing hitters could come in a game, which he already feels ready for.

“I don’t need to waste more time throwing sim games and all that stuff,” he said.

At this time three years ago, Severino was diagnosed with rotator cuff inflammation before a subsequent lat strain derailed his season, limiting him to just three starts in September and two more in the playoffs.

By February 2020, Severino was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery, and a subsequent groin strain during his rehab assignment delayed his arrival to the Yankees until September of last season, at which point he was only built up enough to pitch out of the bullpen.

Still, Severino, whose contract has a $15 million club option for 2023, is confident he can manage a solid workload this season.

“I don’t know how many innings, but I’ve done the work in the offseason to be at this point,” Severino said. “I’ll do whatever they need me to do. I know I can’t go 200-something innings, but I’ll do my best to be there for the team.”

Source: NYPOST

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