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TAMPA — If it were another pitcher, perhaps it wouldn’t be a big deal, pushing one of your final spring training starts back because of what Aaron Boone called “soreness.’’

But Luis Severino isn’t just another pitcher.

The Yankees have him lined up as their No. 2 starter behind Gerrit Cole and instead of starting Wednesday night against the Blue Jays in another tuneup for the regular season, Severino is now expected to throw a bullpen session.

Boone said the right-hander experienced some soreness following his most recent outing, when he struggled with his command against the Phillies last Friday in Clearwater, Fla. and the manager acknowledged there was some “concern” regarding the situation.

“He was a little sore coming out of his last one, so we decided to push it back a little bit,’’ Boone said Tuesday after the Yankees beat the Phillies, 14-2, at Steinbrenner Field.

At least part of the thought process included the fact that the regular season is approaching fast and they want Severino to pitch the second game of the regular season on April 9.

Luis Severino
Luis Severino
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

They want him to be on regular rest for that outing.

Still, the Yankees have to hope scheduling is the only issue with Severino, whom they are counting on to approach the form he showed in 2017 and 2018, before Tommy John surgery and shoulder woes limited him to just 19 ¹/₃ innings over the past three seasons.

Asked if the soreness was related to the elbow or shoulder issues Severino has had in the past, Boone said, “We feel like it is general and us being cautious, but anytime I say that about a pitcher — especially of his stature and what he’s been through — it gives you a little bit of concern.”

That’s just the latest red flag for Severino, who has allowed seven earned runs, walked five and struck out only one in 3 ²/₃ innings over two Grapefruit League starts.

Luis Severino
Luis Severino
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

While he flashed some of his dominant stuff late last season when he finally returned to action, Severino’s command has not come back.

“Any time a guy comes out in spring training and doesn’t necessarily have the success that we want, it gives you pause,’’ pitching coach Matt Blake said in Lakeland, Fla. on Monday. “I think the fact that the velo’s been there and the quality of the pitches have been there [is good], but the execution hasn’t.’’

Blake pointed to Severino “getting used to game speed, just getting the delivery under control and getting him to repeat that a little more. If we had three or four more outings, you’d see it iron out. But right now, it’s kind of like, ‘OK, we’ve got another seven to 10 days to get this right and then continue to build on it in the season.’ It’s not going to be a finished product. It definitely gives you pause, but trusting in [Severino] to put the work in for us.”

Getting work in has been an issue for quite some time for Severino, whose health woes began in April 2019, when he suffered rotator cuff inflammation. A lat strain followed and the combination of injuries cost him most of the season.

Then he underwent elbow surgery in February 2020 that wiped out that year and his comeback last season was delayed by a strained groin in June and difficulty getting loose while warming up before a rehab start in August.

Severino made it back for four regular-season appearances and pitched in the wild-card game in Boston.

The Yankees are counting on Severino to be an integral part of their rotation, even if they have to monitor his innings — although they have declined to put an innings limit on him.

— Additional reporting by Greg Joyce

Source: NYPOST

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