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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 2/23/20

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Happ looks solid in first spring start; Paxton back sooner than expected?; An irregular career path for one ex-Yankees prospect; Mike Mussina basketball coaching update.

MLB: FEB 15 Spring Training - Yankees Workout Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images | Brendan Kuty: J.A. Happ was given the ball for the Yankees' first start of spring training, and, after a down 2019, he showed signs of life going into 2020. In particular, his fastball velocity was already right around his average from last season despite it just being February. Despite everybody getting ready to jettison him, Happ is becoming increasingly important with Luis Severino and James Paxton’s issues.

New York Daily News | Kristie Ackert: Some good news on that injury front is that Paxton is hopeful that he will be able to begin a throwing program soon. If he does manage to get going soon, he could be back in May, which is better than the outlook first was when he initially had surgery.

New York Post | Greg Joyce: Plenty of prospects that don’t end up making the major leagues end up in careers that have nothing to do with baseball. However, not many of them end up doing opera. Yet here is a story of one former Yankees’ prospect, Adam Unger, who is doing just that.

The Daily Item: Now it’s time for your semi-regular update on the high school basketball team that Mike Mussina coaches. His team is now a win away from qualifying for the Pennsylvania state playoffs after winning the first game in their district playoffs on Friday night.