Luis Severino likely shut down until August

Luis Severino
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Yankees starter Luis Severino appears no closer to making his season debut with the team, according to recent reports from manager Aaron Boone and GM Brian Cashman. The right-hander suffered a bout of right rotator cuff inflammation prior to the start of spring training, and had finally started to work his way back to a throwing routine when he was sidelined with additional discomfort. An MRI revealed that he was only “about 90 percent healed,” and the Yankees have since said that they plan to keep him on the shelf until he makes a full recovery.

Whether the club should have seen the writing on the wall is another question. “In hindsight, an MRI probably would have been warranted,” Cashman told reporters Sunday. “He doesn’t like going in the MRI tube.”

Though Cashman admitted the Yankees made a mistake in rushing the starter back into pitching activity without undergoing additional tests, the damage has already been done. Now, it looks like Severino won’t be cleared to return to the rotation until late August, assuming he doesn’t run into further complications during his recovery.

George A. King III of the New York Post points out that the righty will still have to complete six weeks’ worth of spring training before slotting back into the rotation, and it’s not certain that he’ll be able to produce the sub-3.00 ERA and 5.0+ fWAR the Yankees are used to seeing from him, either. In 2018, the 25-year-old earned his second All-Star and Cy Young Award nominations by pitching to some career-high marks with a 19-8 record in 32 starts and a 3.39 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 10.3 SO/9, and 5.5 fWAR across 191 1/3 innings.

MLB, union resume blood testing after pandemic, lockout

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – In the first acknowledgment that MLB and the players’ association resumed blood testing for human growth hormone, the organizations said none of the 1,027 samples taken during the 2022 season tested positive.

HGH testing stopped in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing also was halted during the 99-day lockout that ended in mid-March, and there were supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and additional caution in testing due to coronavirus protocols.

The annual public report is issued by Thomas M. Martin, independent program administrator of MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. In an announcement accompanying Thursday’s report, MLB and the union said test processing is moving form the INRS Laboratory in Quebec, Canada, to the UCLA Laboratory in California.

MLB tests for HGH using dried blood spot testing, which was a change that was agreed to during bargaining last winter. There were far fewer samples taken in 2022 compared to 2019, when there were 2,287 samples were collected – none positive.

Beyond HGH testing, 9,011 urine samples were collected in the year ending with the 2022 World Series, up from 8,436 in the previous year but down from 9,332 in 2019. And therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder dropped for the ninth straight year, with just 72 exemptions in 2022.

Overall, the league issued six suspensions in 2022 for performance-enhancing substances: three for Boldenone (outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon, all free agents, for 80 games apiece); one each for Clomiphene (Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino for 80 games), Clostebol (San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games) and Stanozolol (Milwaukee pitcher J.C. Mejia for 80 games).

There was an additional positive test for the banned stimulant Clobenzorex. A first positive test for a banned stimulant results in follow-up testing with no suspension.