TAMPA, Fla. -- Dellin Betances is pressing a pause button on the search for his missing velocity, and the right-hander will begin the regular season on the injured list due to a right shoulder impingement, the Yankees announced during Tuesday's 6-2 Grapefruit League win over the Rays.
An MRI taken on Tuesday revealed the issue, for which Betances has been prescribed anti-inflammatories. It will be three to five days before Betances resumes throwing, though he and general manager Brian Cashman both said that they do not anticipate the hurler will miss a significant amount of action.
"I'm just a little behind," Betances said. "I'm not concerned at all. At times, I've had a fatigued shoulder and the more I throw the better I feel. We're running out of time here, so I think trying to get ready and be strong when I am out there, I think that is the main focus."
Betances will have company on the shelf. The Yankees are beginning the season without right-hander Luis Severino (right shoulder inflammation) and outfielder Aaron Hicks (chronic back pain), plus shortstop Didi Gregorius (right elbow surgery), who is not expected to return until at least June.
"We've taken hits," Cashman said. "You'd rather not be going through any of it, but when you are, you think, 'Things could be worse.'"
The Yankees have been keeping a close watch on Betances' radar gun readings through four Grapefruit League appearances this spring, over which he has permitted two runs in 3 1/3 innings (5.40 ERA).
Though he has touched 93 mph, Betances averaged 89 mph with his fastball while facing the Phillies on Sunday in Clearwater, a drop that prompted the Yankees to suggest Betances submit to an MRI.
"That last outing was an example of, it's not getting better, it may be getting worse," Cashman said. "We needed to give it a time-out."
Betances believes that he is having trouble generating pop this spring because his offseason program was truncated. Betances and his wife, Janisa, welcomed a son named Dellin J. in February, and the proud father reported to Spring Training on Feb. 18.
"Coming a little late to camp, I was trying to rush to try and start the season," Betances said. "I felt like I was just behind the whole time. The last time I pitched, I still felt like I wasn't there. We only have a week left, so if I keep pushing myself, I don’t think it was going to be the right move."
Though manager Aaron Boone said that Betances' presence will be missed, the Yankees boast one of the sport's deepest bullpens, with established relievers like Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Chad Green and Adam Ottavino leading the charge.
Betances' injury could spell good news for the candidates vying to serve as the team's fourth and fifth starters, a group that includes Luis Cessa, Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga. Stephen Tarpley has also been impressive in 10 scoreless innings, spanning eight Grapefruit League appearances, compiling a strong case to head north.
"We feel like we’ve got the depth that we're still going to go north with a dynamic bullpen," Boone said. "We feel like we can absolutely cover it. We'll be fine and be better for it. We’ll be leaning on some other guys in different situations. We feel like we can withstand it."
A four-time All-Star, Betances owns a 2.36 career ERA and is the first reliever in Major League history to enjoy at least five consecutive seasons of 100 or more strikeouts (2014-18). He posted a 2.70 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings last year.
"It wasn't going to be fair to my teammates to go out there without the stuff I'm capable of throwing," Betances said. "I'm a little more at ease with that. I felt like I was in a rush to get back and compete, which is what I love to do."