Luis Severino
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Luis Severino likely shut down until August

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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.

Rob Manfred walks back comment about 60-game season

Rob Manfred
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Yesterday, on The Dan Patrick Show, commissioner Rob Manfred stuck his foot in his mouth concerning negotiations with the MLB Players Association, saying, “We weren’t going to play more than 60 games.” The comment was taken poorly because MLB owners, represented by Manfred, and the MLBPA were engaged in protracted negotiations in May and June over the 2020 season. Ultimately they couldn’t come to terms, so Manfred had to set the season as prescribed by the March agreement. In saying, “We weren’t going to play more than 60 games,” Manfred appeared to be in violation of the March agreement, which said the league must use the “best efforts to play as many games as possible.” It also seemed to indicate the owners were negotiating in bad faith with the players.

Per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY, Manfred walked back his comment on Thursday. Manfred said, “My point was that no matter what happened with the union, the way things unfolded with the second [coronavirus] spike, we would have ended up with only time for 60 games, anyway. As time went on, it became clearer and clearer that the course of the virus was going to dictate how many games we could play.” Manfred added, “As it turned out, the reality was there was only time to play 60 games. If we had started an 82-game season [beginning July 1], we would have had people in Arizona and Florida the time the second spike hit.”

As mentioned yesterday, it is important to view Manfred’s comments through the lens that he represents the owners. The owners wanted a shorter season with the playoffs beginning on time (they also wanted expanded playoffs) because, without fans, they will be making most of their money this year through playoff television revenue. Some thought the owners’ offers to the union represented stall tactics, designed to drag out negotiations as long as possible. Thus, the season begins later, reducing the possible number of regular season games that could be played. In other words, the owners used the virus to their advantage.

Manfred wants the benefit of the doubt with the way fans and the media interpreted his comment, but I’m not so sure he has earned it. This isn’t the first time Manfred has miscommunicated with regard to negotiations. He told the media last month that he had a deal with the union when, in fact, no such deal existed. The MLBPA had to put out a public statement refuting the claim. Before that, Manfred did a complete 180 on the 2020 season, saying on June 10 that there would “100%” be a season. Five days later, he said he was “not confident” there would be a 2020 season. Some have interpreted Manfred’s past comments as a way to galvanize or entice certain owners, who might not have been on the same page about resuming play. There’s a layer beneath the surface to which fans and, to a large extent, the media are not privy.

The likely scenario is that Manfred veered a bit off-script yesterday, realized he gave the union fodder for a grievance, and rushed out to play damage control.