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Yanks' RHP prospect can hang with big boppers

@BryanHoch
July 6, 2020

NEW YORK -- With each impressive outing this spring, the odds swelled that Clarke Schmidt would get a chance to appear on the Yankee Stadium mound this season. This may not have been how the Yankees’ top pitching prospect envisioned his Bronx debut, but he certainly made the most of

NEW YORK -- With each impressive outing this spring, the odds swelled that Clarke Schmidt would get a chance to appear on the Yankee Stadium mound this season. This may not have been how the Yankees’ top pitching prospect envisioned his Bronx debut, but he certainly made the most of the opportunity.

Facing a stacked lineup in Monday’s intrasquad game, Schmidt picked up where he left off when Spring Training halted in March, limiting the Yanks’ regulars to a Gleyber Torres bloop single over two scoreless innings with three strikeouts.

“Being able to have the opportunity to face pretty much the starting lineup of the Yankees in Yankee Stadium, I was looking at the lineup card this afternoon and I was so excited,” Schmidt said. “I was just like, ‘This is awesome.’ There's no better opportunity for me to open guys’ eyes.”

Rated as the Yankees’ No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline, the 24-year-old Schmidt retired Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge on grounders before Torres flared a soft liner to right field for a hit. Schmidt then struck out Giancarlo Stanton looking.

He started the second inning strong, striking out Gary Sánchez on three pitches, then induced Brett Gardner to ground out before issuing a two-out walk to Luke Voit. Schmidt completed his Yankee Stadium debut by striking out Gio Urshela, then performed fielding drills before departing.

“He seems like a really nice kid; very confident and I think that shows on the mound,” said Yankees left-hander J.A. Happ, who struck out four over two scoreless frames. “He's got that swagger and you see his stuff, how it plays. We saw that this spring and we saw more of that tonight. He's definitely got a bright future.”

Schmidt, who was a combined 6-5 with a 3.47 ERA in 19 games (18 starts) at three Minor League levels in 2019, said that he believes he can get outs at this level and aims to make his Major League debut in 2020.

“I hold myself to a high regard. I always have,” Schmidt said. “I'm a very confident kid and I'll do whatever it takes to make this team.”

Sighs of relief

When Giancarlo Stanton stuck his bat out at a Masahiro Tanaka pitch on Saturday, barreling it back toward the middle of the diamond, the Yankees outfielder/designated hitter said that his view of the ball immediately shifted into slow motion.

It was a sensation that Stanton experienced in 2014 while with the Marlins, when the slugger sustained multiple facial fractures, dental damage and a facial laceration after being hit in the face by a Mike Fiers pitch. Fortunately, Tanaka’s injury was not as severe.

“That was a scary moment for me -- terrible,” Stanton said. “You never want to see your teammate on the ground. I have talked to him. He appears to be fine, given the circumstance. My stance really is, as long as he's OK, I'm OK. That's a scary thing and something that I think we really thought could have been a lot worse.”

Boone said that Tanaka performed 15 to 20 minutes of exercise on a stationary bicycle Monday and did not exhibit any concussion symptoms. Tanaka remains under Major League Baseball’s concussion protocol.

“All signs continue to be encouraging with Masa,” Boone said. “As he got his heart rate up today, there were no side effects, no symptoms, so we continue to be encouraged.”

Ready to slug

Stanton said that his right calf is feeling “100 percent,” having recovered from a Grade 1 strain sustained in late February. The Yankees’ plan is to prepare Stanton as a designated hitter during Summer Camp, though he expects to see some time in the outfield this season.

“We’ve got the schedule lined up. I'm ready to DH and go from there,” Stanton said. “With the season being so short, it's really a one-stop shop of getting it right. I think we have a good schedule down.”

In part because he was recovering from that injury, Stanton said that he did not participate in the so-called private ‘All-Star Game’ that was hosted in West Palm Beach, Fla., recently by Eric Cressey, the Yankees’ new director of health and performance.

Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Corey Kluber and Paul Goldschmidt were among the 30 big leaguers said to have taken part, as first reported by The Athletic.

“No, I wasn't part of that game,” Stanton said. “I was down there working out with them, but I wasn't a part of that game that's been reported. But it was cool being down there, getting work in and seeing a diverse group of guys all going to different camps and getting ready in their own aspects.”

Bicycle buddies

If you were in the Orlando, Fla., area after baseball paused this spring, it’s possible that you may have driven past Yankees third baseman Gio Urshela and Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor. The big league infielders met frequently for lengthy bicycle rides, as Urshela detailed on Monday.

“We tried to ride a bike like every other day, maybe five times a week, Monday to Friday,” Urshela said. “Sometimes on Sunday. We tried to keep the legs loose and give my legs more strength.”

Lindor and Urshela have been close since their time together in Cleveland -- Lindor even trimmed Urshela’s hair at one point in March, which they chronicled on social media -- but Urshela said the friends never discussed the possibility of reuniting in New York via trade or free agency.

“We honestly haven't talked about anything like that,” Urshela said. “He's just focusing on this year. He doesn't know what is going to happen. He's just focused on what's going on right now and that's it.”

Big empty

For Boone, the silent ambiance of Monday’s intrasquad game brought back memories of working out in an empty Riverfront Stadium with his Reds teammates following the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

“It was weird, but something that is important that we get used to,” Boone said. “These days are going to be important, not only to build our guys up, but slowly but surely get used to a different environment that we're going to be playing in. We've got to get used to it and today was the start of that.”

Bombers bits

• Zack Britton, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, Tyler Lyons, Chad Green and Jonathan Holder were among the other Yankees pitchers to see time on the mound Monday.

• Infielder Thairo Estrada hit the first homer of the Yankees’ Summer Camp, a shot to left field off Kahnle.

• CC Sabathia, a special advisor to general manager Brian Cashman, watched the action from the Legends seats behind home plate.

Up next

The Yankees will play another intrasquad game on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, with ace right-hander Gerrit Cole scheduled to work three or four innings under the lights at 7 p.m. ET. The YES Network will air coverage beginning at 6 p.m. ET.

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