Notes: Urshela's elbow OK; Boone update

March 4th, 2021

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Any lingering questions about 's right elbow seemed to be answered on the Yankees third baseman's first play of the spring, as he snared a grounder and whipped a strike across the infield to nab Phillies leadoff hitter Adam Haseley.

"It felt really good," said Urshela, who went 0-for-2 in New York's 15-0 Grapefruit League loss at BayCare Ballpark. "I felt 100 percent, trying to get my elbow ready. Now I'm just trying to get that timing back."

Urshela had surgery after the playoffs to remove a bone spur, an injury that necessitated a brief stint on the injured list in September. The Yankees expect the 29-year-old to be ready for Opening Day, coming off a year in which he slashed .298/.368/.490 (136 OPS+) with six homers and 30 RBIs in 43 regular-season games.

"He looks great," said Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza. "Coming back from that surgery, the biggest thing is throwing from multiple angles. We all know how Gio makes that charging play when he's got to come in and get rid of the ball at a lower angle slot. He's been fine making throws from the third-base line. He's in a good spot and ready to go."

Mendoza said that he played catch with Urshela about two weeks before the official report date for Yankees pitchers and catchers, noticing that Urshela's arm speed and arm action appeared to be in midseason form. Urshela is scheduled to rest on Friday, then return to the lineup on Saturday against the Pirates in Bradenton, Fla.

"In the first inning, I saw everything go fast, so I tried to slow my timing down a little bit," Urshela said. "After my first at-bat, I felt much better."

Boone update

Yankees manager Aaron Boone was said to be in good spirits as he awaited discharge from St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Fla., after a procedure to install a pacemaker on Wednesday. Boone was expected to be released on Thursday afternoon.

"I texted with him this morning and spoke with him last night on the way home," Mendoza said. "His first question was, 'How'd the boys look?' I was like, 'No, no, no. How are you feeling?' And he was like, 'I'm great. I feel great. I can already tell the difference. So tell me how the day went.' It just tells you what kind of leader he is. He's in bed after surgery and wants to know what's going on with our guys."

Boone recorded a video for his players from his hospital bed on Wednesday, which prompted the players to return the favor on Thursday, recording a message that they deputized Brett Gardner to send to the manager.

"We had a team meeting about it," Luke Voit said. "We had a couple of coaches explain to us what was going on. Most of us knew he had that heart condition from [12] years ago, but we didn't realize how serious things were going. We wanted to keep him positive and know that he's got plenty of time in Spring Training to get right before he comes back and leads us to a championship."

Clean living

Luis Cessa made his spring debut in Wednesday's 4-1 victory over the Blue Jays, allowing on run and two hits, and he told pitching coach Matt Blake that he was trying to be too fine with his pitches.

"I actually felt really good," Cessa said. "I missed close to the zone. The movement looks good; everything looks good. I need more consistency with my pitches; a couple of pitches I tried to overthrow. The first appearance, I was so excited. The adrenaline was flowing in my body."

Cessa said that his strength returned to 100 percent shortly after his bout with COVID-19 last summer, which delayed his arrival at the Yankees' Summer Camp. The right-hander said that he is trying to improve his diet this spring, which he believes will help him feel lighter on the mound.

"I'm eating more salad, more salmon, more fish," Cessa said. "I try to stay away from the carbs. Normally, Mexican food is tortillas and bread -- the food is so good, but it's bad for your body."

Up next

Domingo Germán will make his first start of the Grapefruit League schedule on Friday as the Yankees host the Tigers at 1:05 p.m. ET on Friday. The game will be televised on MLB.TV and the YES Network.