CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber and Domingo Germán are set to take the mound against the Blue Jays in the Yankees’ first series of the regular season, with manager Aaron Boone announcing on Sunday that the club plans to “slow play” Jameson Taillon coming off Tommy John surgery.
With that trio set to work in the April 1-4 set against Toronto, Boone plans to send Jordan Montgomery, Cole and Taillon to the hill in the April 5-7 series against the Orioles.
“With Jamo, we feel like he’s in such a good spot physically. With the off-days we have in April, we just want to be mindful of building these guys up properly,” Boone said. “We feel like a sixth starter is going to factor in at least once in the month of April. By doing it this way, we’ll keep our guys as much as possible on that fifth day and sixth day.”
Taillon was briefed on the plan about two weeks ago, and he agrees with the Yankees’ reasoning. Taillon underwent his second career Tommy John surgery in August 2019 and missed the entire 2020 season. The Yankees acquired Taillon from the Pirates in January.
“I’m totally on board with it,” Taillon said. “We’ve discussed not putting a hard innings limit on me, but at the same time, it comes with the understanding that early in the year, let’s get creative and see if there’s a way to save some bullets -- ease into the year, ease into cold weather, ease into competition. I’m excited for whenever my name is called.”
Three members of the rotation -- Kluber, Taillon and Germán -- combined for one Major League inning last season. Boone was impressed by the lack of rust Germán showed after missing all of last year while serving a suspension under baseball’s policy against domestic violence, and said that Kluber and Taillon have been “as advertised.”
“I’m really excited about them,” Boone said. “I feel like their stuff has been good. I feel like their recovery and bounce-back has been strong. We’ve obviously got a long way to go, but as we enter the season, I feel like we’re in a good spot.”
Kluber exited Sunday's 6-2 loss to the Phillies during a lengthy third inning that featured two hits, two walks, a hit-by-pitch and a sacrifice fly, leaving a bases-loaded mess for the bullpen. Then, under the new Spring Training rules in effect this season, he was able to return and finish on a strong note. He retired the first two hitters in the fourth before again yielding to the bullpen.
"That's one of the benefits of the rules here in spring; you can get taken out of an inning and still go out and get your work in,” Kluber said. “I'd rather do that than have to go down to the bullpen and finish. As far as the buildup, I think I'm kind of right where we need to be.”
Kluber wrapped his spring with a 2.77 ERA across 13 innings, permitting 10 hits with seven walks and 14 strikeouts. Boone saw good movement on Kluber’s pitches, and Kluber said that he has pitched to his expectations thus far.
“I’m excited to get to the regular season,” Kluber said. “The progression in spring has been good. My next one is going to be one that counts.”
Mike Tauchman was in obvious discomfort after fouling a ball off his right shin in a second-inning at-bat during Sunday’s exhibition against the Phillies, receiving attention on the field from Boone and an athletic trainer. Tauchman continued his at-bat, striking out, and played another half-inning in left field before being replaced by Ryan LaMarre.
“He’s just icing that. I wanted to get him out of there and didn't want it to swell up too much,” Boone said. “He’ll go get some treatment on it; no X-rays as of now. We'll see how he is in the morning.”
One of the few remaining roster decisions concerns infielder/outfielder Tyler Wade, who is attempting to break camp as part of the four-man bench. Catcher Kyle Higashioka, outfielder Brett Gardner and Tauchman are all expected to head north.
“What Tyler brings to the table, especially in a bench role, is he gives you a lot of defensive versatility,” Boone said. “When you’re talking about second base, it’s elite. It’s really special range. He has the ability to play short, and I like him in the outfield. I feel like in any situation, I can throw him in the outfield and it’s going to be special out there.”
Boone has said that Wade’s place on the Opening Day roster depends on the fact that “some things are in play still,” perhaps indicating that general manager Brian Cashman may be looking to acquire a bench player from outside the organization. Boone added that he believes Wade is “going to play an important role for us this season.”
Infielder/outfielder Miguel Andújar (nerve issue in right hand) has resumed hitting off a tee. Boone said that Andújar has experienced intermittent soreness but seems to be improving. Andújar last appeared in a game on March 10.
Germán will make his fourth and final start of the spring on Monday as the Yankees conclude their Grapefruit League schedule with a 1:05 p.m. ET exhibition against the Tigers at Steinbrenner Field. Germán is preparing to start the Bombers’ third game of the regular season, on April 4.