Chapman's velocity not a concern for Boone

Closer's fastball averaged 95.3 mph, peaked at 98.1 in opener

March 30th, 2019

NEW YORK -- The radar gun readings at the top of the center-field scoreboard drew attention during 's scoreless ninth inning on Opening Day, but not for the normal reasons.

Sealing the season-opening win over the Orioles, Chapman threw 12 fastballs in the 18-pitch appearance, with an average velocity of 95.3 mph and a maximum reading of 98.1 mph.

Chapman warmed up, but did not enter Saturday's 5-3 loss to Baltimore. Considering the 31-year-old lefty has routinely reached triple digits throughout his career, including in his first outdoor appearance of the 2018 season, Chapman's future appearances could bear watching.

"I think he popped a few 97s, but I think it's a little early," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before Saturday's game. "We'll start to see that ramp up a little bit. What makes Aroldis so unique and so special is his kinetic chain. It's freakish. Once that gets really dialed in, I think the velocity will follow."

Chapman also threw six sliders in the Opening Day appearance, pitching around Hansel Alberto's infield single by striking out Joey Rickard (that at-bat featured the only swing-and-miss). Chapman then retired Renato Nunez and Jesus Sucre on a lineout and groundout, respectively.

Boone opined this spring that Chapman's nasty slider is a pitch that should permit him to remain effective long after his velocity dips, though the Yankees expect that Chapman will be back in the triple digits once the weather warms and he gets more innings under his belt.

"Now, is it 103, 102?" Boone said. "I don't know, but I would expect him to slowly start to tick back that way."

Going deep

Though the Yankees' ninth-inning rally fell short on Saturday, helped spark a possible comeback with his first home run in pinstripes, an opposite-field solo shot to the short right-field porch. It was Tulowitzki's first home run since July 8, 2017, when he took the Astros' Chris Devenski deep while playing for the Blue Jays.

"It got real interesting," Tulowitzki said. "Right there, I honestly wasn't trying to do too much. I was trying to get on base. Everybody knows my story; it's been a long time. It is cool. It would have been better if we finished it off and won the ballgame."

Sunshine state

(right shoulder impingement) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Saturday at the Yankees' player-development complex in Tampa, Fla. (right shoulder inflammation) is continuing to long-toss and is expected to get on a bullpen mound early next week, according to Boone.

(chronic back pain) has yet to resume baseball activities following a pair of cortisone injections, but recently texted Boone that he "feels great." (recovery from right knee surgery, angioplasty) is scheduled to pitch in another Minor League game on Monday.

Comeback trail

Right-hander , whose return from a brain hemorrhage caused by an aneurysm was an inspirational storyline this spring, has been assigned to Minor League camp as he continues to build strength and velocity.

"I felt like he was actually further along than I anticipated," Boone said. "I think that's a decision to get him regular reps and work. When he and us feel really good about it, he'll get out to a [Minor League] team."

Bombers bits

• The Yankees are considering using an "opener" on Monday against the Tigers. will pitch, but it may not be in the first inning. is slated to start on Tuesday.

played third base in his Yankees debut, marking his first appearance at the position since June 13, 2014, at San Francisco, while with the Rockies. LeMahieu went 2-for-4 with a run scored, a double and an RBI.

• Yankees bench coach Josh Bard turned 41 on Saturday.

Up next

Left-hander (17-6, 3.65 ERA in 2018) takes the ball on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET as the Yankees conclude their three-game series with the Orioles. Right-hander (8-16, 5.45) draws the start for Baltimore. The game will be broadcast on YES and MLB.TV.