DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Riding buses in the International League last summer delivered a significant blow to Luis Severino's confidence, but a dominant stint out of the Yankees' bullpen and renewed faith in his changeup this spring appear to have erased any evidence of that.Severino is back to the mindset that
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Riding buses in the International League last summer delivered a significant blow to Luis Severino's confidence, but a dominant stint out of the Yankees' bullpen and renewed faith in his changeup this spring appear to have erased any evidence of that.
Severino is back to the mindset that he showed when he enjoyed big league success, according to backstop Austin Romine, who caught the right-hander in Friday's 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays and said that Severino's energy is visible from a distance of 60 feet and six inches.
"I think when he came back and was pitching out of the 'pen, he got that back," Romine said. "He has it now. You can see it in his eyes. He gives up a home run, doesn't care, goes back in there and throws a good changeup. That's something that he's learning. He's learning how to let it go and get back on the mound and make some pitches."
In his second start of the spring, Severino's outing was marked by one loud blemish -- a fastball that leaked over the middle of the plate to Jose Bautista, who unleashed what Romine called "a gangster hack" to send a first-inning, two-run homer sailing over the wall in right-center field.
Otherwise, Severino had no complaints. He threw 47 pitches in 2 1/3 innings, scattering four hits while walking one and striking out four. Severino said that he threw nine or 10 changeups, a pitch that he abandoned last year when it was hit hard at the big league level.
"I think it was the same," Severino said. "The first outing was good, and today was good. I threw a very good changeup to [Russell] Martin; he didn't swing, but it was good. This is a good team with good hitters. It's nice to get the adrenaline."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Severino looked "fairly comfortable" and was happy that he tested all three of his pitches against the Blue Jays, particularly the changeup.
"We've got to get him comfortable with it, that's the bottom line, and you take that into your thought process," Girardi said. "If he gives up a hit on it, it might not be at a time that he would normally throw it, but sometimes you work on it."
With five pitchers competing for two rotation spots, general manager Brian Cashman had said prior to Spring Training that if Severino did not win a rotation job, he would be sent to Triple-A to continue preparing as a starter.
Cashman said on Friday that he has eased off that statement, which offers Girardi the flexibility to consider Severino out of the bullpen if necessary. Should Severino continue to trust all three of his pitches, that may be an option the Yankees feel no need to entertain.
"Confidence is going to be a big thing with him," Romine said. "I think the more reps he gets, the more innings he gets, the more confident he's going to get. Today we built some confidence in the changeup, and moving forward to the next start, he's going to have a better feel."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.