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Stephen Ridings to Begin Rehab Assignment; Can He Return to Yankees Before End of Season?

Ridings will pitch for the Double-A Somerset Patriots, making his first appearance of the season within the Yankees organization.
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More than five months after landing on the 60-day injured list, Yankees reliever Stephen Ridings is ready to begin a rehab assignment. 

The right-hander will suit up and pitch for the Double-A Somerset Patriots on Saturday, his first in-game appearance in the Yankees organization since August 15 of last year.

Ridings, 27, flashed some of his potential coming out of the bullpen in five games with the big-league club a year ago. The 6-foot-8 reliever struck out seven of the 20 batters he faced, allowing just one earned run in five frames. 

That was the extent of Ridings' brief breakout with the Yankees, though. The reliever returned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre a few days later, landed on the injured list and didn't pitch again in 2021. 

Ridings didn't pitch in spring training either. On April 5, the Yankees placed him on the 60-day injured list with right shoulder impingement. Pitching coach Matt Blake mentioned last month that Ridings dealt with a "host of shoulder stuff" over the next several months, managing back discomfort as well. He almost required thoracic outlet surgery as well, per NJ Advance Media.

It's unclear how many rehab appearances Ridings will need before he's ready to pitch at the big-league level again. After missing this much of the season, Ridings has some ramping up to do. 

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He may be healthy, but time is the reliever's biggest enemy at this point. Only 18 games remain on the Yankees' schedule and New York is poised to deal with a roster crunch over the next several weeks as well—bullpen arms like Zack Britton, Miguel Castro, Scott Effross and more are all working back from the injured list.

Still, it'll be positive for Ridings to finish this year on a high note, pitching in meaningful games and building confidence after a long stint on the sidelines. That would put him in a position to compete for a roster spot next spring to contribute out of the 'pen.

"Obviously it was all stuck in neutral for a while," Blake said in August. "Now that we're gaining some traction and he's getting to face hitters again, we just want him to finish this season on a high note. Whether that's with us, whether that's in the minor leagues, just finish healthy and set himself up for a good offseason."

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