Luis Severino felt every single one of those 707 days that separated his appearances on the mound for the New York Yankees, but finally, the wait ended on Tuesday night in the Bronx.
After a long road to recovery following Tommy John surgery, Severino pitched the eighth and ninth innings of the Yankees’ 7-1 victory over the Texas Rangers, allowing just two hits while striking out a pair and posting zeroes on the scoreboard — all during a bit of rain to create a dramatic backdrop, or difficult one.
“I was just thinking about ‘I’m pitching in a game.’ I didn’t care if it was freakin’ thundering. I was going to pitch,” Severino said. “It was a little slippery.”
Slipperiness aside, it was a triumphant return for the 27-year-old, who last pitched in late September of the 2019 season. That was also a limited campaign as he made just three outings that month — his only of the season — while battling shoulder issues.
“It was a lot. First thing, the fans yelling my name, that was special for me. Getting on the mound in a real game, it was really special,” Severino said. “I visualized this like 100 times… You can think about it but it’s not like getting in there and seeing how it’ll actually be.”
For manager Aaron Boone, it was equivalent to a proud-father moment.
“Proud moment for him and for his teammates and for all of us that have seen him go through a lot,” Boone said. “We’re talking about a great pitcher in this league who has obviously had the injury bug and battled different things and kind of worked his tail off to get to this moment.
“When you say that, 707 days between being on a big-league mound, there has to be rust, nerves, all of that going out there. I thought he handled himself really well. I thought it was a really good game to get him into and a great first step.”
Severino threw 30 pitches over those two innings, 19 for strikes. He sandwiched an eighth-inning double by Leody Taveras between strikeouts of Jose Trevino and Isiah Kiner-Falefa before yielding a ninth-inning single to Adolis Garcia — the last bit of damage on the night for the righty.
“I felt pretty good. I was not worried about my command because I know I can throw strikes,” Severino said. “It was good. Slider, changeup, fastball command was great.”
Now with Severino back in the Yankees’ ranks for the playoff push, it’s unclear just how he’ll be utilized. However, considering the late stage the 2021 season is in, Boone likely doesn’t have enough time to stretch Severino out enough to give him a starting pitcher’s workload.
But he didn’t rule out anything, yet.
“He’s Luis Severino, so I’m not going to cap what that can be,” Boone said. “We’ll see. It’s pretty late here in the season but that’s a talented person and a great pitcher. I don’t want to put too many expectations on him but I’m not going to limit what he’s capable of down the stretch and what kind of role he can serve him.
“Hopefully, a step forward for him to help us down the stretch.”