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Girardi: Kaprielian may pitch in game next week

MLB.com @BryanHoch

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- James Kaprielian has said that he feels like a "caged bull" while watching Grapefruit League action from the dugout. The Yankees' top pitching prospect may soon get a chance to experience game action.

The Yankees have been handling Kaprielian with care as a result of his injury-shortened 2016 season, saying earlier this month that there was a good chance he would pitch only under simulated conditions, but manager Joe Girardi said on Friday that the organization's thinking has changed.

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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- James Kaprielian has said that he feels like a "caged bull" while watching Grapefruit League action from the dugout. The Yankees' top pitching prospect may soon get a chance to experience game action.

The Yankees have been handling Kaprielian with care as a result of his injury-shortened 2016 season, saying earlier this month that there was a good chance he would pitch only under simulated conditions, but manager Joe Girardi said on Friday that the organization's thinking has changed.

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"I think we're probably going to see it," Girardi said. "Our plan is his next appearance, I think, is going to be in a game. We've taken it slow on purpose because he pitched in the [Arizona] Fall League."

Kaprielian pitched three innings in a simulated game on Friday at George M. Steinbrenner Field, so his next outing would come either on Wednesday or Thursday. New York hosts the Phillies on Wednesday evening and will visit the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., on Thursday afternoon.

Ranked as the No. 58 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, a strained right flexor tendon limited Kaprielian to just three April starts with Class A Advanced last season.

Kaprielian excited the Yankees by lighting up radar guns in the mid-90s during his time pitching for Scottsdale in the Fall League, where he was 2-3 with a 4.33 ERA in seven starts, ringing up 26 strikeouts in 27 innings.

Girardi said that Kaprielian could help the Yankees at the Major League level this year.

"He's another kid that we think can move pretty quickly," Girardi said. "Whether he gets here this year, I don't know, but there's a ton of talent here. I think that the biggest thing for him is staying healthy. If he stays healthy and pitches, there's definitely a chance."

Worth noting

Luis Cessa had been scheduled to start Friday's game against the Phillies, but the right-hander was scratched due to a fever. Chad Green started instead, with Cessa expected to pitch a simulated game on Saturday.

• Girardi said that outfielder Billy McKinney has also been slowed by the flu.

"I was hoping that [McKinney] would be a player today, but he's still not right and I don't want to run out someone if they're dehydrated or they're not feeling up to par," Girardi said.

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

New York Yankees