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Severino enjoys being part of Yanks' playoff push

NEW YORK -- There was one question Luis Severino knew he could confidently answer in English on Sunday, without the aid of his interpreter and without any hesitation whatsoever.

"How much fun is it pitching for the Yankees in a pennant race?" the Yanks' No. 1 prospect and newest addition to the rotation was asked.

With no pause, a huge smile, a gentle laugh and a wave of confidence, he responded, "Very fun."

Severino enters the Yankees' rotation at a time when the American League East is wide open and New York's lead over second-place Toronto seems to get slimmer with each passing day. The 21-year-old is expected to get the ball every five days during a stretch of the season when series matter more and playoff pushes become real.

His first outing was a success, as he became the first pitcher in AL history to record two hits or fewer, no walks and at least seven strikeouts in his Major League debut. Now, the buzz swirling around him could amp up again on Tuesday in Cleveland, when he takes the mound for start No. 2. But manager Joe Girardi thinks this time around the hype will calm down as he continues to settle in.

Video: [email protected]: Girardi on Severino's debut, loss to Sox

"The requests probably slow down a little bit. Obviously, whenever you're making your first start in the big leagues, I think you probably get a ton of phone calls, No. 1. People wanting to join and be a part of it," Girardi said. "You start reminiscing about all the things that you've been through to get there and how important it is to you, and I think things just kind of slow down a little bit. It's a normal work day or a normal week, much more than the first week before the first start."

Severino, who took the loss despite a dominant showing on Wednesday against the Red Sox, said he's reviewed his video and knows what adjustments he needs to make when he faces the Indians. The plan is to keep his changeup low and not get too wrapped up in throwing the perfect pitch.

The outside stuff isn't something he's letting affect him, which is what Girardi figured would be the case with him all along.

"Going into the game, I thought that he was a young man that really wasn't fazed by his surroundings in Spring Training, was able to relax and go about his business," Girardi said. "I think that that's what I saw last week. It's kinda what I expected to see. I'm sure I'll learn a lot more about him as time goes on -- and you see him make starts and how he responds to certain situations and adversity. But, for the most part, that was kind of what I expected."

Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for
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