OAKLAND, Calif. — The Yankees’ massive turnaround has many people around the team gearing up for the playoffs.
Not Corey Kluber.
The right-hander is scheduled on Monday to make his first start since being sidelined with a strained shoulder on May 25. And that’s as far ahead as Kluber is choosing to look.
“I’m trying to approach this as I think the injury is behind me, I’m healthy at this point, so I’m gonna try to go out and pitch the way I feel capable of and try to contribute to the team,’’ Kluber said Friday at Oakland Coliseum before the Yankees beat the Athletics, 8-2. “Looking at the big picture is probably getting a little ahead of ourselves at this point.”
But Kluber was encouraged by how he felt in his last rehab start, when he threw 60 pitches in a game for Double-A Somerset on Tuesday. He allowed two runs in 3 ²/₃ innings, but Kluber said he paid more attention to how his pitches looked.
“The most important thing during the rehab starts was how I was feeling physically and recovering [between outings],’’ Kluber said. “I got to the point where I was executing pitches pretty well. It improved each time out and I thought the last one was right where I like to be.”
How Kluber will fit into the rotation for the rest of the season and into the postseason will be determined by how he performs down the stretch, which figures to allow for about five starts.
“If he gets rolling, we’ve seen it already, how good he can be,’’ manager Aaron Boone said, referring to the no-hitter Kluber threw at Texas an outing before he suffered the shoulder strain. “He’s coming back from a few months [out] and he’ll continue to get built up,’’ Boone said. “He’s coming off a shoulder injury. We’ll see how he responds, what his stuff looks like. His pitching will tell us where he’s at. I think he’s confident.”
Luis Severino threw for the first time since being shut down with shoulder tightness while warming up for a rehab start with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Aug. 13.
Boone said Severino was back at Yankee Stadium on Friday and threw from 60-70 feet in his first catch play before he goes back on a rehab assignment.
Michael King, who missed time with a middle finger contusion, threw a 20-pitch bullpen session at the Somerset complex and is “close to” a rehab assignment, according to Boone.
Giancarlo Stanton was back in the outfield Friday, playing the spacious right field at Oakland Coliseum. Boone said he expects Stanton to continue to get time on defense.
“He’s had good routes and has had some really good reads [on fly balls],” Boone said of Stanton’s defense. “The way his body has responded has been really good.” Boone said he believes Stanton playing the outfield will be “more in play on a more regular basis” as long as he remains healthy.
“We’ll certainly be cautious and he’ll ultimately get his share of DH days, but as long as he can handle the workload, we’ll use him,’’ Boone said.
With Stanton in right, hot-hitting Luke Voit got back in the lineup as a DH on Friday, after being relegated to pinch-hitting duties because of Rizzo’s presence at first base. Voit went 1-for-4 on Friday with a solo home run in the fourth inning.
The Yankees sacrificed some of their future to address their present when they sent prospects to the Cubs and Rangers to acquire Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo.
The returns on Rizzo and Gallo will be determined by how far the Yankees advance this October.
The Rangers got their first look at one of the key arms they received from the Yankees for Joey Gallo and lefty Joely Rodriguez when Glenn Otto started and tossed five scoreless innings in a 5-4 loss to the high-powered Astros in his MLB debut Friday for Texas.
The 25-year-old right-hander was called upon in part because the Rangers are dealing with COVID-19 cases. Prior to the trade, Otto pitched well at Double-A Somerset and made two starts at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, in which he gave up five runs in 10 ¹/₃ innings, but also struck out 12.
Otto was better, after the deal, with Triple-A Round Rock. He had a 2.70 ERA in 20 innings over four starts.
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