No. 2 prospect Schmidt shut down 3-4 wks

Notes on Cole's first BP, Montgomery's status as sole lefty, Chirinos' mentality

February 22nd, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. -- Clarke Schmidt, the Yankees’ No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, will be shut down from throwing for at least three weeks after being diagnosed with a common extensor strain near his right elbow.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that Schmidt experienced discomfort after tossing in the bullpen last week. He added that an MRI taken on Friday showed no damage to Schmidt’s ulnar collateral ligament, which required Tommy John surgery during the right-hander's junior season at the University of South Carolina.

“It's kind of an uncommon injury; usually you don't hear pitchers getting that,” Boone said. “I think it's a little akin to a tennis elbow. We’ll get the range of motion going, get the swelling out of there and have him symptom-free. Then he can start throwing again, and they think that's probably a three- to four-week shutdown.”

The 25-year-old Schmidt was examined on Tuesday by Yankees team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad, who confirmed the diagnosis.

Schmidt was an outside contender to crack the Bombers’ rotation this spring. He appeared in three Major League games last season (one start), pitching to an 0-1 record with a 7.11 ERA. He was the Yankees’ first-round selection in the 2017 MLB Draft, taken 16th overall.

Main event
A year ago, ’s first live batting practice session in a Yankees uniform generated goosebumps for the ace right-hander, who heard cheers from more than a thousand fans when he emerged from the right-field bullpen at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

His first mound assignment of 2021 was more subdued, taking place on an isolated practice field at the club’s player development complex. Even without many present to witness the workout, Cole generated his usual intensity and appeared sharp in Boone’s eyes.

“I thought his stuff was pretty good,” Boone said. “His command is not where it’s going to be for Cole, but it was another good step for him. I thought he shaped some good sliders, mixed in his changeup, so he used all his pitches. He did exactly what he needed to do today.”

Ticket to ride
augmented his offseason training regimen with frequent spins on a Peloton bike, the left-hander said on Monday.

“I really love it,” Montgomery said. “On top of [Eric] Cressey’s program, I’ll just do some yoga in the mornings and a late-night ride -- anything to pass the time and keep moving.”

Montgomery tossed a live batting practice session on Monday, and Boone believes the 28-year-old's 2020 season was stronger than his 5.11 ERA would indicate. He projects to be the only lefty in the Yanks' Opening Day rotation, pitching alongside Cole, Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon and a yet-to-be-named fifth starter.

“I can still talk to CC [Sabathia] about pitching; he’ll holler at me,” Montgomery said. “I’ll hold it down for the lefties and be a lone wolf, I guess.”

Behind the dish
said that he sees an opportunity to contribute at the Major League level with the Yankees, and the veteran catcher is not ceding a roster spot to Gary Sánchez or Kyle Higashioka as camp begins.

“That’s not what I have on my mind right now,” Chirinos said. “Those two guys are really good; they’ve been here a long time. I’m just coming to spring to show everybody I’m here to help this team, and let them choose and make a decision.”

Chirinos, 36, spent last season with the Rangers and Mets. He was a teammate of Cole’s with the Astros in 2019 and says that he has a good relationship with the right-hander.

“I was lucky enough to catch him for 2 1/2 months,” Chirinos said. “I think we did good. Gerrit is a tough guy to catch. He likes to talk, he likes for his catchers to be picking his brain. It was a challenge, but he was open to me, he’d share information. That’s the only thing you ask as a catcher.”

He said it
“It’s been a dream for me always to be a Yankee, especially with the team that they’ve put together this year. Even to be associated with these guys is exciting for me.” -- right-hander , who is on his third tour with the club

Up next
Tuesday will mark the Yankees’ first full-squad workout of the spring, using both George M. Steinbrenner Field and the player development complex facilities. Workouts are not open to the public.