While the Yankees’ outfield added another big name to the injured list on Friday when Aaron Judge went down with a right calf strain and joined Giancarlo Stanton, the bullpen might be getting a big reinforcement.
Closer Aroldis Chapman faced live hitters at the alternate training site on Friday. Though manager Aaron Boone hadn’t received a report on how the gas-throwing lefty did, there is a possibility Chapman could join the Yankees this weekend. Chapman has been on the COVID-19 IL since the season began. He tested negative for the coronavirus during the intake program but positive afterward.
Talking about the bullpen after he beat the Red Sox 10-3 Friday night, Gerrit Cole said he was optimistic the unit would be getting stronger.
“It looks like we are getting Chappy back relatively soon,’’ Cole said.
Adding Chapman would strengthen an area that has been very strong despite not having Chapman and losing Tommy Kahnle to Tommy John surgery. Chad Green has dominated and Zack Britton led the majors in saves with seven entering Friday night’s action.
In his previous throwing session, Chapman said he felt better than he expected, which was an encouraging sign. So, too, was pushing the speed gun to 99-mph.
Hal Steinbrenner watched the game from the owners’ box with sister, Jennifer, club president Randy Levine and COO Lonn Trost.
James Paxton’s dip in velocity has people searching for a reason. There has been talk that during the shutdown he might not have been throwing with enough intensity and that resulted in an arm strength issue.
Nevertheless, Paxton said he doesn’t think that is the reason.
“I don’t think it is an arm strength thing. When I was coming back from back surgery I was protecting my back and I created some bad habits that weren’t putting me in a position to create power,’’ said Paxton, who will make his fourth start of the season Saturday night against the Red Sox, hoping to build off a solid outing last Sunday against the Rays when he started with six shutout innings before faltering in the seventh. Paxton struck out 11 in 6 ¹/₃ innings.
In order to increase the velocity from 93 mph, Paxton has been working on getting better drive from his legs.
“Trying to get into my hips a little better,’’ Paxton said. “We are hoping that will show a little bit more velocity.’’
Paxton’s first two starts consisted of four innings, 12 hits and six earned runs and a 0-1 ledger.
Before baseball was flooded with information for every aspect of the game the best avenue to find out about a player was to go to a member of that fraternity.
A lot has changed in the game because of analytics, training methods and the mental approach but players remain the best judge of other players.
When asked about fellow outfielder Clint Frazier on Friday afternoon, Mike Tauchman painted a positive picture that included an evaluation long before Frazier went 3-for-4 with a home run in Wednesday night’s 6-3 win over the Braves at Yankee Stadium. He also had a two-run double in Friday night’s victory.
“[Wednesday] was a really good game [for him], but I thought in spring training 1 and spring training 2 he looked really good. I thought he was extremely consistent with his move. Last year was the first time I played with him and early in the year he was dialed in with his knowledge of the strike zone, recognize strikes versus non strikes,’’ Tauchman said of Frazier. “That got him into a lot of really advantageous counts and he was able to do some damage. That is the guy we are seeing right now, a guy who can control the strike zone and is obviously a presence in the batter’s box.’’
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