TAMPA, Fla. — Corey Kluber will follow ace Gerrit Cole in the New York Yankees’ rotation, and Jameson Taillon will be skipped the first time through as the team builds him up slowly in his return following Tommy John surgery.
Cole will start Thursday’s opener against Toronto at Yankee Stadium and Kluber, returning from two injury-filled seasons, will start Saturday against the Blue Jays.
“When he’s at his best, he’s kind of masterful and precise,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “We’ve seen all that flash this spring.”
A 34-year-old righty, Kluber signed an $11 million, one-year contract with the Yankees, his third team in three years. He knows cold and wet weather is possible when he faces the Blue Jays.
“Obviously playing in Cleveland for a while, I’m used to colder weather at the beginning of the year,” he said. “Once the game rolls around and you’re out there and you’re playing, it’s probably the last thing on your mind.”
The two-time Cy Young Award winner has thrown one inning since being hit on the right forearm by a comebacker on May 1, 2019, none since tearing a muscle in his right shoulder in his Texas debut last July 26.
“We’ll be a little conservative out of the gates with him from a pitch count standpoint,” Boone said.
Domingo German will start the series finale against the Blue Jays on April 4, his first appearance in two years. The 28-year-old right-hander was placed on administrative leave on Sept. 19, 2019, while MLB investigated an alleged domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend, with whom he has at least one child.
German missed the final nine games of the 2019 regular season and all nine of New York’s postseason games, then on Jan. 2, 2020, was suspended for 63 games. He missed the entire pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
German pitched nine scoreless innings over five appearances during spring training, allowing five hits, striking out 13 and walking one.
“The lack of rust has been probably the most I guess pleasantly surprising thing to me,” Boone said.
Left-hander Jordan Montgomery is to start against Baltimore on April 5, followed the next day by Cole.
Taillon is to make his Yankees debut against the Orioles on April 7. The 29-year-old right-hander was acquired by the New York Yankees from Pittsburgh on Jan. 24 for four prospects.
“I’m excited. Packing up my Airbnb down here in Florida. Packing up my locker. Shipping stuff up to New York. It’s real. The season’s upon us. There’s a buzz upon around here,” Taillion said. “There’s a lot of people that stood by my side and helped me with the rehab and stuff. So excited for myself, but I’m also excited just to put all that work onto the field and hopefully make people proud that invested a lot of time and energy in me,”
Taillon has not pitched since May 1, 2019, while rehabilitating from his second Tommy John surgery that Aug. 13. He also had the reconstructive elbow procedure on April 9, 2014. He said the Yankees had told him of this schedule weeks ago and he agreed this was a way to “save some bullets, ease into the year, ease into the cold weather, ease into the competition.”
“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, maybe a couple of times in the month of April.”
Deivi Garcia was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday after going 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA over 14 innings in five spring training outings.
Luis Severino is expected back this summer following Tommy John surgery on Feb. 27 last year. Severino threw off a mound for the first time following surgery on March 9 and Boone said Friday he will soon start throwing breaking balls.
Boone said it is possible but unclear if left-handed reliever Justin Wilson, slowed by shoulder soreness, could be active on opening day. Wilson resumed throwing Saturday.