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Severino latest Yankees starter to lack command

MLB.com @BryanHoch

TAMPA, Fla. -- There have been bumps in the road for each of the Yankees' rotation contenders through this most recent turn, and with two slots still very much up for grabs, it appears that the team's talent evaluators will be plugged in to each pitch over the final three weeks of Spring Training.

Luis Severino was the latest to surrender hard contact, with Team Canada taking advantage of the righty's spotty fastball command early in New York's 10-4 victory on Wednesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Tyler O'Neill hit a two-run homer off Severino in a 27-pitch first inning.

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TAMPA, Fla. -- There have been bumps in the road for each of the Yankees' rotation contenders through this most recent turn, and with two slots still very much up for grabs, it appears that the team's talent evaluators will be plugged in to each pitch over the final three weeks of Spring Training.

Luis Severino was the latest to surrender hard contact, with Team Canada taking advantage of the righty's spotty fastball command early in New York's 10-4 victory on Wednesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Tyler O'Neill hit a two-run homer off Severino in a 27-pitch first inning.

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"I think I was trying to rush to the plate," Severino said. "I was trying to make good pitches, I was trying to make the slider action with my arm and not throwing it. When they hit the homer, that's going to happen a lot of times. I said in my mind, there was nothing going on. Come back again."

Severino surrendered four hits over two innings, walking one and striking out four. Catcher Gary Sanchez said that Severino's changeup looked "really good," but the 23-year-old was forced to battle because his fastball kept wandering up in the strike zone.

"We've said all along, the changeup is important, but also the fastball command is really, really important," manager Joe Girardi said. "Being down in the zone is important for him, and when he got up today, he got hurt."

Of the five candidates, Severino and Bryan Mitchell are the only two who have yet to work in relief so far this spring. Mitchell was hammered for four runs and six hits in 2 1/3 innings by the Pirates on Monday in Bradenton, Fla.

Adam Warren served up back-to-back homers in a three-inning relief outing on Tuesday against the Rays, while Luis Cessa permitted two hits and an unearned run on Sunday against the Pirates. One day earlier, Chad Green gave up a run on three hits in 1 2/3 innings against the Tigers.

"I think all the guys are fairly close," Girardi said. "It seems like this round they've all had a little bit of trouble. They've given up some home runs and had some problems with their command at times. It's all part of it. It's still early, we still have a long way to go, but you hope someone emerges."

Video: TOR@NYY: Severino holds Blue Jays hitless through two

Severino was 3-8 with a 5.83 ERA in 22 games last year, going 0-8 with an 8.50 ERA in 11 starts. He says that he isn't keeping close tabs on the other hurlers.

"Like I always say, the competition is against myself," Severino said. "The competition is me; I'm trying to be better than Severino 2016. That's what I want to do."

Worth noting
• The bottom of Canada's lineup was no match for Aroldis Chapman, as the left-hander struck out the side in the fourth inning on Wednesday. Chapman needed just 12 pitches (10 strikes) to send Jamie Romak, George Kottaras and Jonathan Malo back to the bench, working on his slider and changeup.

Video: CAN@NYY: Chapman strikes out side in order in 4th

"Striking out batters is not really the result that I'm looking for," Chapman said through an interpreter. "This is a time when you focus on pitches and location. It's not really something that I'm worried about right now. It's just executing the pitches."

• Non-roster first baseman Ji-Man Choi is expected to return to game action on Thursday. Choi was hit in the right shoulder and cheek by a pitch on Sunday against the Pirates.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

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