Star back home, Severino sparks excitement

Yanks have high hopes for young righty, who experienced increased fame in Dominican Republic

February 20th, 2016

TAMPA, Fla. -- Returning home to the Dominican Republic this past winter, Luis Severino experienced some increased levels of fame. The young Yankees hurler was regularly stopped on the street to pose for cellphone selfies and sign autographs.

One can only assume that Severino handled those requests with the same cool temperament that he exhibited against big league lineups late last season, which is one of the reasons the Yankees are jazzed about the idea of having him go north with them for the full season.

Spring Training info

"I think that if I do a good job here in Spring Training and I'm still healthy, I will have a chance," Severino said.

Severino, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Saturday, was 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 11 starts after being promoted in August. He has floated a personal goal of 200 innings for the year, and in a telling sign of the Yankees' confidence in his future, they don't seem to be backing away from that.

"He's an exciting young talent that has performed at the lower levels and then obviously showed that he can do it at the biggest level, on the biggest stage, in a postseason effort," general manager Brian Cashman said. "That bodes well as we move forward."

It was around this time last year that the Yankees huddled to discuss Severino's workload, believing that if they eased off him early in the year in the Minors, he could be available to help in the Majors down the stretch. That's exactly what happened.

Severino completed a career-high 161 2/3 innings -- 99 1/3 in 19 Minor League starts, plus 62 1/3 in the Majors. He would have continued starting if the Yankees had advanced in the postseason, and Severino said that he would have had no problem throwing another 20 or 30 innings.

"I felt good, felt great," Severino said.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said this week that he believes Severino is "a guy that can handle 200 innings." Cashman declined to put a number out there, recalling his headaches in handling the extra attention placed upon Joba Chamberlain following his debut late in the 2007 season.

"We have a lot of things in place," Cashman said. "I've learned from the 'Joba Rules' that when you're very honest and direct about what you do and how you do it, which wasn't even dissimilar from most organizations in the game, it can take on a life of its own."

Severino said that he wants to work on pitching down in the zone more while fine-tuning his breaking stuff this spring, but it's difficult to imagine a better trial-by-fire than he saw last year, facing the Blue Jays' wrecking-crew lineup three times in the season's final two months.

"I learned that if you make mistakes over there, you're going to pay for that," Severino said. "I think Toronto got me a few times, but I feel comfortable throwing to that lineup. They have a lot of right-handed batters. Sometimes my slider wasn't working that good, but this year, I think it'll be better."