TAMPA — Right-hander Mike King is in the mix for a rotation spot with James Paxton expected to miss at least the first two months of the season because of back surgery earlier this month and Luis Severino headed to New York for three days of tests on his right forearm.
“I don’t know if I will ever feel that way,’’ King said when asked about competing for a big league rotation spot. “My whole mentality when I first came in — and that was before any type of injury — was just make it as hard of a decision as possible to send me down and I am going to keep that type of mentality. Wherever the cards fall.’’
The right-handed King replaced J.A. Happ who started the 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays on Saturday and retired all six batters. King gave up two hits and a walk but no runs in 1²/₃ innings.
King pitched two innings of one big league game a year ago and missed spring training and four months because of an arm injury.
Kyle Holder has few minor league peers when it comes to fielding ground balls at short. His hands are as soft as former Met and Yankee Kevin Elster, who fielded balls better than most.
Holder’s sure hands were on display in Saturday’s loss in the fifth inning, when he fielded Teoscar Hernandez’s grounder toward third base and threw the runner out at first in the fifth inning. Holder was a compensation pick in the 2015 draft.
Working without their full lineup, the Yankees were limited to three hits. One of the hits was a home run by first baseman Chris Gittens in the home ninth.
Luis Cessa is a strong bet to be a member of the Yankees’ pitching staff. He can start or relieve, and Saturday the right-hander faced four batters and none reached base.
With Paxton opening the season on the injured list and the possibility that Severino will join him, the Yankees could have two rotation openings.
The Yankees travel to Port Charlotte to play the Rays. Luke Voit and Miguel Andujar will make the trip with Jonathan Loaisiga, who will start.