For what was initially reported as right forearm soreness dating back to Game 3 of the 2019 ALCS, Luis Severino returned from spring training to New York for a battery of tests. Earlier on Tuesday, Brian Cashman revealed the heart-dropping news that Severino would be undergoing Tommy John surgery, immediately ending his 2020 season. Given the variable timetable for recovery from Tommy John surgery for starting pitchers, it is unknown in what capacity Severino will be able to pitch next season.
This leaves the Yankees starting rotation perilously thin until the hoped-for return of James Paxton in May or June. As of right now, Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, and Jordan Montgomery will round out the first four spots. Presumably, a competition between Luis Cessa, Jonathan Loaisiga, and Michael King, among others, will decide the fifth starter.
The loss of Severino hurts on so many different levels. They are losing the co-ace of their staff. But deeper than that, they are losing the beating heart of the pitching staff and clubhouse. Aaron Judge may be the outward leader, but Severino as much as anyone sets the tone emotionally for the team. You can clearly see the team feed off the energy he effuses every time he steps on the mound.
It is hard to find the words to describe how broken I feel about the Luis Severino news. I can only imagine how shattered he must feel. To have put in the long hours of unrewarding work to recover from his previous injury only to suffer this blow is unthinkable. While I would never wish injury upon any player, I cannot think of a more undeserving player for such a string of hardship than Luis Severino.
Severino has long been one of my favorite Yankees for reasons that extend beyond the numbers and statistics. His clear love for the Yankees is unmatched. When making his return last season, he sincerely explained how it was:
“Exciting. It was fun going out there and hearing the fans, being with the guys and around all my teammates, and just trying to win games. ... I’ve been looking forward to this since spring training. It’s been a long time. It’s been a long road back. I’m here now and I’m healthy. I can help my team.”
To hear his excitement to rejoin his teammates, and the acknowledgement of the grinding process he went through to make his return is heartbreaking. This is made all the more upsetting when he echoed these sentiments in this season’s spring training. “I just want to play baseball. I just want to pitch,” Severino said. “I’ve been doing all the things that they wanted me to do in the offseason to come here healthy.”
I have always admired his ability to balance the fire with freeness. His lighthearted demeanor and infectious happiness permeate the dugout. But he can turn on the focus in an instant, playing with an intensity and passion unrivaled among his teammates. We can all learn a lesson from his ability to remain upbeat and optimistic despite the tribulations he has gone through.
Already, people have started discussing the loss of value on his contract, or debating whether or not he is turning into a bust. However, I ask that we take a step back and appreciate the human element of this misfortune. This is a young man who has worked harder than many of us can imagine, for most of his life, to get to his position. And over that entire course he has remained one of the most humble and respectful players in the league.
You hate to see such a rotten stretch of bad luck for any player, doubly so for a guy as likable as Severino. The Yankees organization and fans aren’t the only groups who will be feeling the pain of this loss. The game of baseball is losing the privilege to watch one of the truly exciting, electric rising superstar pitchers in the two years that he should have been lighting up the league.
Here is Severino’s statement regarding the decision:
Luis Severino has released the following statement about his Tommy John surgery news today: pic.twitter.com/j4xDNgLF7o— James Wagner (@ByJamesWagner) February 26, 2020
The grace he exhibits in the face of adversity is commendable.
Now the Yankees must hope for a successful procedure, and a steady, measured rehabilitation. The best thing we as Yankees fans can do is continue to shower him with our support. Sustained encouragement can be of some comfort during what will be a physically and emotionally painful recovery.
Here’s wishing you a speedy recovery Sevy, we’re going to miss you.