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Paxton out 3-4 months after spinal surgery

@BryanHoch
February 5, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees’ injury woes were historic last year, prompting the revamping of the organization’s strength and conditioning protocol. In James Paxton’s case, that poor fortune has carried over into 2020. Paxton’s season debut will be delayed after the Yankees announced on Wednesday that the left-hander underwent a

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees’ injury woes were historic last year, prompting the revamping of the organization’s strength and conditioning protocol. In James Paxton’s case, that poor fortune has carried over into 2020.

Paxton’s season debut will be delayed after the Yankees announced on Wednesday that the left-hander underwent a microscopic lumbar discectomy with removal of a peridiscal cyst.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Andrew Dossett in Dallas, and the club said that Paxton’s approximate timeline to return to Major League action is three to four months.

General manager Brian Cashman said that Paxton first reported the injury issue in September, receiving treatment after his final regular-season start on Sept. 27 against the Rangers in Arlington.

Paxton received an injection, and Cashman said the hurler’s recovery was part of the reason he was pushed back to start Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against the Astros, with the Game 1 nod going to Masahiro Tanaka.

Following the season, Cashman said multiple doctors recommended a conservative treatment program that did not require surgery. Paxton contacted the Yanks about four to six weeks ago to report a recurrence of the discomfort, at which time the conservative protocol was again recommended.

Paxton’s career has been marked by flashes of brilliance, pockmarked with injury concerns. The 31-year-old was 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA in 29 starts for the Yankees last season, his first in New York. He is eligible for free agency after the 2020 season.

With Paxton unavailable, the Yanks’ Opening Day rotation now projects to have ace Gerrit Cole followed by Luis Severino, Tanaka and J.A. Happ, in some order. Cashman said that the “storm clouds” of Paxton’s unresolved injury were a factor in the club’s decision not to trade Happ in December.

Contenders for the No. 5 rotation slot project to include Jordan Montgomery, who is already working out at the club’s Minor League complex, plus Luis Cessa, Deivi Garcia, Michael King and Jonathan Loaisiga.

The Yankees also anticipate that Domingo Germán will rejoin the club in June, when his suspension under baseball’s domestic violence policy expires. New York's pitchers and catchers report to camp on Feb. 12.

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