TORONTO — Luis Severino is scheduled to start for the Yankees on Sunday after returning from the COVID-19 injured list — after spending mere hours on it.
The right-hander never tested positive and is feeling fine, so Severino will pitch the finale of the three-game series against the Blue Jays. Gerrit Cole will be pushed back to Monday for the opener of a series at Tampa Bay.
“[Thursday] was a good day for him,” manager Aaron Boone said of Severino, who had been slated to start on Thursday against the Rays in The Bronx, but was scratched after he experienced symptoms late Wednesday night.
The Yankees have said they will monitor the innings of both Severino and Nestor Cortes, since Severino is coming off nearly three seasons of barely pitching and Cortes is set to far exceed his career-high in innings.
So being able to push Severino back a few days could prove to be advantageous.
“What was a tough situation [we] hope turns into a benefit,’’ Boone said of Severino being pushed back.
As of now, the Yankees say they have no plans of skipping any of Severino’s or Cortes’ starts.
We’ll see what happens if the Yankees — who increased their AL East lead over second-place Toronto to 11 games with a 12-3 victory Friday — hold on or build on their commanding division advantage.
“Whether we have a big lead or not, we’ve got to be mindful,’’ Boone said. “We’ve got to pay attention to it.”
That means both watching how they look on the mound, as well as how they test out.
“We’ll make evaluations with our eyes with how they’re doing, but also how they measure physically compared to their baseline. Whether we have a big lead or not isn’t a factor. Right now, Nestor and [Severino] are in a really good spot.”
Gleyber Torres was drilled with a pitch in the right forearm in the ninth inning of the Yankees’ 12-3 win over the Blue Jays Friday, but stayed in the game and Boone said the second baseman was fine.
Boone won’t rule out using Torres, who has settled back into second base and at the plate, at shortstop “in a pinch.”
“His skill-set lines up more at second base,’’ Boone said. “But he’s got good hands and the arm strength to play shortstop in a pinch. I hope we can use him over there so we keep the option.”
You wouldn’t think the Yankees would want to mess much with Torres on either side of the ball.
Torres is 16-for-49 with five doubles, four homers, five walks and seven RBIs over his past 14 games after going 2-for-4 with an RBI and three runs Friday.
Boone acknowledged that Torres’ comfort level at second base may play a role in his production at the plate, but downplayed it a bit.
“He’s been outstanding at second and swung the bat well for us,’’ Boone said. “I think [playing second] is a factor and probably taken some pressure off of him, but probably not to the degree the narrative has been. He’s a good offensive player that’s made quality adjustments.”
DJ LeMahieu had three hits, including a home run, Friday for his first multi-hit game since June 9. It continued LeMahieu’s dominance of the Blue Jays, as he improved to 78-for-225 (.347) with 10 home runs in his career against Toronto.
Giancarlo Stanton got the start in right field, with Boone saying it may be the only game of the series in which Stanton will play defense. Boone also said Aaron Judge perhaps will get a DH day or an off-day.
But he added of the Rogers Centre turf: “I don’t want to be overly concerned. We’re not playing in a parking lot.”
The Yankees will follow these three games with three more at Tropicana Field against the Rays. That turf is harder than the field in Toronto.