HOUSTON -- For the past two days, left-hander Jordan Montgomery had quietly been performing exercises and seeking treatment, attempting to alleviate the tightness that he was experiencing near his pitching elbow. In the past, some combination of the two had always addressed the issue.
As Montgomery left the mound after seven pitches on Tuesday evening, however, he considered the wisdom of continuing to throw at less than 100 percent. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild agreed, recommending that Montgomery be removed from the Yankees' eventual 4-0 victory over the Astros.
"It was giving me fits for a little while," Montgomery said. "I thought I could throw through it. I've been doing a little extra treatment and little exercises. In college and the Minor Leagues, I've been able to grind through something like this. But it gave me a little discomfort."
On Wednesday, Montgomery will return to New York, where he will be further evaluated by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad. Although manager Aaron Boone is hopeful the issue will prove to be minor, Montgomery is almost certainly headed for the 10-day disabled list.
"He'd had a quick inning, the velocity was a little down and he just felt like something was off," Boone said. "[Rothschild] checked with him. He just said, 'It's a little tight.' We didn't mess around at that point, got him out of the game, and the bullpen picked us up in a big way."
The 25-year-old Montgomery is 2-0 with a 3.62 ERA in six starts this season. He was 9-7 with a 3.88 ERA in 29 starts last season, and despite the drop in velocity on Tuesday, he characterized his level of concern as "not too high."
"It's not like I'm hurting that bad," he said. "It's just kind of enough to be there and kind of scare you a little bit."
As Montgomery and Rothschild chatted in the dugout runway, the Yankees instructed rookie Domingo German to get loose as quickly as possible. The right-hander was ready to answer that call, hurling four scoreless innings at the defending World Series champions with four hits, a walk and four strikeouts.
"German is a good pitcher," catcher Gary Sanchez said through an interpreter. "He's going to help us a lot. He's going to be an important piece here. Tonight he did an amazing job for us. He was able to hold the game for us."
Boone said that after throwing 61 pitches in relief on Tuesday, German is the probable candidate to assume Montgomery's turn in the rotation on Sunday, when the Yankees host the Indians.
"He'd be on schedule to take that turn on Sunday," Boone said. "He's fairly stretched out. Not like he was to start the season, but I feel fairly comfortable that he can give us a fair amount of length. He would be the likely guy to step in."
It would be the first Major League start for the 25-year-old German, who was acquired from the Marlins along with right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and infielder Garrett Jones on Dec. 19, 2014, in exchange for right-hander David Phelps, infielder Martin Prado and cash considerations.
"I've got to be ready for anything," German said. "If I have to start a game, I'll be ready, but they haven't told me anything yet. You can't get ahead of yourself. We'll see what happens."