Yankees’ Luis Severino expects to return in 2021 season

If everything had gone according to plan, Luis Severino may have been back pitching for the Yankees this week or next.

But given how he initially felt when he suffered a groin strain in his second rehab start on June 12, the right-hander is just encouraged he still has a chance to pitch again this season.

“It actually felt like somebody shot me in the leg,” Severino said Wednesday, before the Yankees played host to the Angels, in his first comments since the injury. “It felt really bad. I couldn’t walk. Two or three days later, I was walking good. At the beginning, it was a struggle walking stairs and stuff like that.

“In that moment, yes, I thought it was the end [of my season],” he later added.

The Yankees could certainly use Severino, who has not pitched for the big league club since Game 3 of the 2019 ALCS, four months before he underwent Tommy John surgery. It remains to be seen what kind of pitcher they will be getting back when he does return — manager Aaron Boone has said the reports from Severino’s live bullpens and first rehab start were encouraging — but he could provide a shot in the arm for a scuffling team that entered Wednesday 7 ½ games back of first place in the AL East.

Luis Severino
Luis Severino
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While general manager Brian Cashman said over the weekend that Severino’s timetable for a return had been pushed back four-to-six weeks by his groin injury — putting him in line to possibly be back early-to-mid August — the two-time All-Star said he is surprised at how quickly he has rebounded from the setback.

Severino has been running, throwing up to 120 feet and doing agility drills in the outfield before games over the past week and is in line to throw a bullpen session in the near future.

“The thing is I don’t go more than 120 [feet], so arm-wise, I’m bullpen-ready,” Severino said. “It’s a matter of time and [we’ll] see how long it takes.”

Severino, who threw 34 pitches in each of his two rehab starts, believes he would have only needed two more starts in the minors before rejoining the Yankees. He is now having to go through that process all over again, but said his fastball command was feeling “good” at the time of the groin injury.

“Of course it was disappointing,” he said. “It’s been a long road back and being so close and then pushing it a month, month and a half back, it’s really frustrating. But now I can’t think about that. I have to think about getting better and being back on the mound as soon as possible.”

In the meantime, Severino has been forced to watch the Yankees navigate a bumpy year without him. They entered the season with plenty of question marks behind Gerrit Cole and have offered a mixed bag of results, with a starters’ ERA of 4.02 (15th in MLB).

The rotation carried the team through a strong stretch of games in May, but has since lost Corey Kluber (right shoulder strain) until potentially September. Michael King has replaced him in the rotation, while Domingo German, Jordan Montgomery and Jameson Taillon have all battled inconsistency.

The Yankees are also nearing the midway point of the season, meaning an increased focus on pitchers’ workloads coming off of last year’s 60-game schedule — putting depth at a premium.

“I think we got a great team,” Severino said. “The games that we lose [are] in the past, we can’t do nothing about that. We have to think about the present and what we can do to help the team win.”

Severino hopes to do just that once he is finally able to get all the way back from his two injuries.

“I’ve been waiting long enough, so waiting a little more is not going to make a big difference,” he said. “It was bad when it happened, but right now, I’m focused on getting better.”

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