NEW YORK — Under overcast skies on Friday afternoon in the Bronx, Luis Severino stood tall on the Yankee Stadium mound.
His fastballs hummed through the air before popping in his backstop's mitt, echoing across an empty ballpark as his coaches and teammates looked on from the first-base dugout.
Severino twirled two innings on Friday, facing hitters again as he looks to finally put an end to what's been an arduous journey back from Tommy John surgery.
With a handful of setbacks in the rearview mirror, Severino is looking to return to the big leagues before the regular season comes to a close. And after watching the right-hander toe the rubber on Friday, manager Aaron Boone was as encouraged as he's been all season long.
"I thought he was actually really sharp," Boone said. "To have two ups there and get his volume up a little bit too was good. So, we'll see how he comes out of this, but it looks like he's pretty encouraged about it, too."
Boone added that Severino was touching 96 mph with his fastball, showing life with the heater and mixing in his secondary pitches while flashing the intensity that allowed him to ascend in pinstripes, serving as New York's ace just a few years ago.
The live batting practice wasn't perfect. Severino gave up a line drive single to right field off the bat of Tyler Wade. In the final at-bat of the outing, infielder Rougned Odor made him pay for leaving a fastball over the heart of the plate, depositing a long home run into the second deck.
Boone went on to preface that Severino's highly-anticipated return would be in the bullpen, not in the starting rotation. There isn't enough time to build him up into a starter this late in the year.
That return could come after another rehab start, Boone said. Severino has been on multiple rehab assignments this season, both before his groin and shoulder setbacks occurred, dispersed through the summer.
"We'll see what the next step is if we get him in a game in a couple days," Boone said. "But yeah, I could envision him being with us pretty soon if everything goes well."
With injuries piling up across New York's pitching staff, Severino's return could be a huge boost out of the bullpen. Considering only 15 games remain entering play on Friday, and a postseason spot is in jeopardy, Severino will need to work quickly if he wants to make an appearance before the offseason begins.
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