Clarke Schmidt’s ‘swagger’ left quite an impression on J.A. Happ

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There could be a scenario where Clarke Schmidt takes over for J.A. Happ in the Yankees’ rotation next year should the veteran lefty starter leave via free agency.

Should that happen the Yankees will be in good hands according to Happ.

“I did see him tonight, I was watching for sure. In spring training it seems like a really nice kid, very confident and I think that shows on the mound. He has that confidence and a little bit of that swagger. You see his stuff and how it plays and we saw that in spring and we saw more of that tonight,’’ Happ said following the Yankees’ first intrasquad game of spring training 2.0 at Yankee Stadium on Monday evening. “I think he definitely has a bright future.’’

Schmidt, the Yankees’ first-round pick in 2017 out of the University of South Carolina who had Tommy John that year and didn’t pitch professionally that season, started against the Yankees’ lineup. Happ started for the Bombers against the Yankees.

With very little chance to crash the Yankees’ rotation in spring training Schmidt impressed and caught the attention of the Yankees and opposing scouting departments. Monday night Clarke opted to focus on a chance instead of his first big league camp ending the way it did on March 12.

“Tonight to being able to have the opportunity to face pretty much the starting lineup for the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, I remember looking at the lineup card this afternoon and I was so excited,’’ said Schmidt, who pitched against a lineup that housed Aaron Judge, Stanton, Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner and Luke Voit. “It was one of those feelings, like, ‘This is awesome.’ There is no better opportunity for me to open guys eyes. Whatever I did in spring training 1 or whatever you want to call it that’s all behind me. If I want to open a door and open somebody’s eyes, tonight was the night to do it. I kind of embraced that moment.’’

Clarke Schmidt
Clarke SchmidtAP

Barring an injury to one of the five starters — and Masahiro Tanaka suffered a concussion this past Saturday — Schmidt might not get a big league taste this year. However, nobody knows pitchers like other pitchers and Happ isn’t prone to making overstatements.


Special advisor CC Sabathia sat with GM Brian Cashman behind home plate for Monday night’s intrasquad game.


The Yankees didn’t deny or confirm a report that COVID-19 testers weren’t at Yankee Stadium on Sunday as scheduled, but Aaron Boone said the club is doing all it can to make the players’ environment safe.

“I don’t want to get into commenting on the testing each and every day about how many negatives, did we have any positives, what came in. I really don’t want to go down that road right now,’’ Boone said Monday via a Zoom call before the Yankees’ first intrasquad game at Yankee Stadium. “All I can say is we are working with Major League Baseball making sure that we are as safe as can be as expected in how we are conducting ourselves and I feel good about us being here.’’

Giancarlo Stanton believes the testing program has gone according to the way it was set up.

“I have gotten tested every other day. I can’t speak on that there wasn’t a tester here [Sunday]. I believe like everyone else that it has gone to protocol,’’ Stanton said.

Asked if DJ LeMahieu and Luis Cessa had to test negative twice at home before undergoing intake testing in New York prior to being cleared, Boone said, “I think there is a little more to it than that. There is a joint panel that has to sign off on things as well. There is obviously a couple of negative tests that have to happen and that has to be in conjunction with all the major league protocols.’’

Boone reiterated his confidence in the testing process.

“We are confident in the protocols we have in place. I know there were issues with the whole Fed Ex and the Fourth of July weekend. We also feel like nothing is perfect and nothing we do is perfect but we do feel like protocols we have in place are giving us the best chance to be safe,’’ Boone said. “Whether tests are rolling in on a daily basis every other day the fact of the matter is nothing is perfect and we are at risk every single day. If we have all negative tests that roll in today the reality is that was from two days ago. Each day we are here there is risk involved in that. That’s why, the best we can, we are trying to mitigate that. We have a good system set up in place to do that and hopefully over time it proves its mettle.’’


With a 60-game schedule in play for this season Boone is OK with putting a runner on second base to start an extra inning but will wait to decide if he would agree to make it a permanent change beyond this year.

“I think I am OK with the rule for this year. I certainly understand and am on board with it. I do think it tips the scales to favor the home team if you do get to an extra-inning scenario. I have a lot of our guys looking at it and trying to break it down and analyze it, see if there are any ways we can best exploit it from a tactical standpoint,’’ Boone said. “I am on board with as far as staying away from that enormously long game that every now and then happens.”

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