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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 2/21/2020

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Severino experiences forearm tightness; new year, same injury bug; Tanaka developing cutter with Pettitte; Mike and the Mad Dog criticize Yankees; Field of Dreams field will be closed week of game

New York Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka and pitcher Luis Severino during spring training 2020 Photo by J. Conrad Williams, Jr./Newsday RM via Getty Images

ESPN | Marly Rivera: We’re barely into 2020, and yet it seems like 2019 all over again, with Luis Severino being shut down with “right forearm discomfort” that he first experienced last October. Although two offseason MRIs and a CT scan revealed nothing abnormal except a “loose body” that appeared unrelated to the discomfort, the Yankees starter will see the team physician, Dr. Christopher Ahmad, today, and starting the season on the injured list is not ruled out. Just like that, the trio of elite arms projected to be at the top of the Yankees rotation is down to one, newcomer Gerrit Cole.

New York Post | Ken Davidoff: Pending further tests, Severino may join fellow starter James Paxton and center fielder Aaron Hicks on the injured list to start the season. While the Yankees still have considerable depth that should allow them to absorb these losses (particularly with the weakened state of the AL East, sans the Tampa Bay Rays) these early-season injuries certainly make things a bit more difficult.

NJ.com | Brendan Kuty: One of the biggest reasons the Yankees may be able to weather these injuries to the rotation is Masahiro Tanaka. Entering the final year of his seven-year, $155M contract signed before the 2014 season, the righty was pencilled in as the Yankees’ number four starter before injuries hit. Fortunately, Tanaka has been working a lot with Yankees legend Andy Pettitte to develop his cutter, a pitch that the retired lefty and spring training guest instructor attributes to not only his late-career success, but CC Sabathia’s as well. That can only be good news.

NJ.com | Randy Miller: Former WFAN partners Mike Francesca and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo have both gone on the record this week blasting members of the current Yankees for complaining about the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal, criticizing them for not scoring more runs in the 2017 ALCS and essentially calling them hypocrites because the Yankees won championships during the Steroid Era. Although you can make an argument that the Yankees’ bats did not really help at all in 2017, it seems to me that the two media personalities both have missed the point about the league-wide outrage and fail to recognize the passage of time: not only do no players remain from the Steroid Era, the Jeffrey Maier game — which Francesca brings up as a reductio ad absurdum — occurred 24 years ago.

USA Today | Tommy Birch: I’m pretty excited for the Field of Dreams game between the Yankees and White Sox this August in Iowa, but if you’re looking to go on a pilgrimage to see the ballfield from the movie, you’re going to need to fork over the cash to buy the much-sought-after tickets to the game. Go The Distance, the organization that manages the site, has announced that the field will be closed between August 8 and August 16 because of the game. If you’re looking to visit without buying a ticket, you’d best plan accordingly.