TAMPA — With the Yankees’ fingers firmly crossed that Luis Severino’s upcoming battery of tests on the right forearm, which begin Monday, don’t uncover a serious problem, they received positive news on James Paxton’s progress from back surgery earlier this month.
According to Paxton, he has increased his rehab workload following the Feb. 5 procedure and could be playing catch in 10 days.
“Ten days puts it at four weeks. It depends how I respond to the treatments the next 10 days,’’ Paxton said during the Yankees’ 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays in the exhibition season opener Saturday at Steinbrenner Field. “Everything has been going really well. I am optimistic.’’
When the Yankees announced Paxton could miss 3-4 months, many began doing the math from the start of the season, which is March 26. However, more in line with that prognosis was the rehab starting immediately after the surgery. That means if Paxton continues to progress, he could be back as soon as early May.
When it comes to Severino, the Yankees can’t be optimistic or pessimistic because after two MRI exams and a CT scan in the offseason that were clean, the soreness in the right forearm resurfaced this past week — when the right-hander threw change-ups but not when the fastball and curveball were delivered. Severino flies to New York on Sunday and will begin three days of tests at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.
According to manager Aaron Boone, the Yankees are in a holding pattern with Severino, who received soft tissue treatment Saturday.
“We are kind of waiting to see how the early week unfolds,’’ Boone said.
Paxton has progressed to the point where his program has increased.
“We are upping the exercises each day,’’ Paxton said before Saturday’s game. “Monday we are going to add resistance to leg exercises. I am moving along really well. No setbacks so far.’’
Depending on what three days of testing find out about Severino’s cranky right forearm, Paxton making it back in early May as opposed to later in the month would be a plus either way. If Severino’s problem isn’t serious and Paxton makes it back in early May, the Yankees are in good shape. If Severino is forced to miss extended time, it would benefit the Yankees to get Paxton back before he was expected.
Severino missed the first five months of last season due to an inflamed rotator cuff problem and a lat injury while rehabbing the rotator cuff. He appeared in three September games and made two starts in the ALCS against the Astros.
As for Paxton, he obviously is looking forward to participating in a simple game of catch, which millions of people do every day.
“At least the ball will be in my hand,’’ said Paxton, who went 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA in 29 starts and will be a free agent at the end of the season.
Paxton described his post-surgery pain as “pretty normal and it has gone away quickly.’’
Boone knew Paxton might be able to play catch in 10 days because that was in the original timeline laid out when the process started.
“Hearing how he was responding to the surgery the days after and to this point, I feel that is kind of the timeline,’’ Boone said. “He should get built up. I feel like he is doing really well. Each day has been good. He is moving around more. I think the good thing with this, which kind of nagged him a little bit toward the end of the season and into the postseason and obviously into the offseason, I feel like that is probably behind him now.’’