TAMPA — Aaron Boone insists everything is normal, but Yankees setup man Dellin Betances will not throw in a Grapefruit League game again until at least this weekend. Betances, who has appeared in just three spring training games, was scheduled to throw a bullpen Tuesday and then a simulated game on Thursday when the Yankees are on the road in Dunedin.
“No, he’s actually thrown quite a bit in the past week as far as his sides and stuff, nothing is different at all,” Boone said before Wednesday night’s game against the Phillies. “There is no alteration at all….no.”
The 30-year-old’s velocity has been notably down with his fastball topping out at 93 miles per hour on Sunday. His breaking ball sat around 80.
Betances only recorded one out and allowed two runs on two hits — including a triple to former Yankee catcher Francisco Cervelli — and walked two. He recorded one strikeout before Aaron Boone had to go out and replace him because of his pitch count.
“It’s just like my body is fighting it. Just one of those days,” Betances said after that outing. “I feel like crap.” The right hander clarified that his arm felt healthy, he just overall felt like “crap.” He also emphasized again that he is traditionally a slow starter in terms of velocity.
“For me it’s gradual,” Betances said his velocity returning. “I remember in 2014, the year I made the team, my first couple times I was 87, 90, 88, 91.”
Clint Frazier hopes you can rest a little easier. Tuesday night, late in the game, he rushed toward the left field wall at George M. Steinbrenner Field. He didn’t even think about the collision with the wall that caused the concussion last spring that ruined most of his 2018 season.
Not until after the game.
“I’ve been waiting for that play,” Frazier said. “I worked really hard this offseason to get healthy and get back. I had no thoughts about it at the time, but I know other people have. I have been asked about it and asked about it.”
“I had been waiting for that play so I could show everyone I am fine,” Frazier said. “I was really happy I got that chance.”
Frazier’s chances of making the major league team right now are slim. After playing in just 69 games last season (15 in the big leagues, 54 in the minors) while battling post-concussion syndrome symptoms, Frazier needs at-bats every day, the Yankees reason.
So they will not give him a back-up role in the big leagues. But this spring has proven a lot. He has shown he is over the concussion and not afraid to go back after the wall.
T A BATTLE FOR BOONE
Boone said sometimes he forgets it’s a competition. While Luke Voit and Greg Bird are seemingly fighting it out for a roster spot, their manager said he would be comfortable with either as his starting first baseman.
“I don’t, in my mind, look at it as competition….Look the hard part about it for me, inevitably if we go one way or another, is I feel so good about both guys,” said Boone, who was actually wearing a Luke Voit T-shirt around the clubhouse, before Wednesday night’s game. “I feel like we’re looking at two impact players. That’s the difficult part about it. We’re not there yet. I am just excited both guys are in such a good place and really looking the part right now.”
Voit came into the camp with a leg up in the competition because of how he played after the Yankees acquired him last July. In 39 regular-season games, Voit slashed .333/.405/.689 with 14 homers and 33 RBI. He played so well, Bird, who slashed .199/.286/.386 38 RBI in 82 games last season, was left off the postseason roster.
Both were in the lineup Wednesday with Bird playing first and Voit as the designated hitter.
Voit went 1-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored in the Yankees’ 5-5 tie against the Phillies. Bird went 1-for-2 with an RBI.
Boone said Wednesday that Aaron Hicks is responding well to the cortisone shot he had Monday and that he believes that the center fielder is no longer experiencing pain.
“I think they are going to take it slow in building him back up and making sure from the core standpoint he is really rock solid before he dives back into baseball activities,” Boone said. “I think (the pain) is pretty much out of there. That’s good. The next thing will be is to see how these next couple of days unfolds and follow the doctors plan as far as getting him back in heavy baseball activities.”
Hicks has not played in a Grapefruit League game since March 1, suffering a stiff/sore lower right back. While Boone and Hicks both were adamant this will not affect his readiness for spring training, the Yankees would need the 29-year-old to get into a game next week so that they do not have to rush him. That, however, could include minor league games.
TANAKA TUNING UP
Masahiro Tanaka allowed two earned runs on six hits over 3.2 innings pitched. He struck out six.
“Obviously (he) had some tough innings there. We would have liked to have gotten him deeper, but he made a lot of good pitches when he needed to,” Boone said. “(He had) a lot of good sliders in there, the split was working for him. He pitched around some trouble, pitched around some traffic, the swinging bunt to get things started. He made some mistakes but was able to wiggle off, so an overall positive step.”
Tanaka is the Yankees’ Opening Day starter, scheduled to pitch Mar. 28 against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium.