TAMPA, Fla. – Corey Kluber overcame the occasional wild, allowing two runs and four hits in four innings in his second spring start, and the New York Yankees beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-5 on Saturday.
Kluber has won two Cy Young Awards with his third team in three years. He has thrown just one official inning since a comebacker struck him on the right forearm in May 2019 and tore a muscle in his right shoulder on his Texas debut last July.
Kluber hit two batters, threw a wild pitch and allowed a solo home run in the third inning to Troy Stokes Jr. on Saturday. He struck out two in an outing in which the Pirates fell in order only once.
“Some pitches could probably have been placed a little better, a little sharper,” Kluber said. “The home run, the first pitch, it left him too much on the plate. Definitely some things to work on. Adjusting the placement, things like that.
“I was happy with the way I felt physically.”
The right-hander allowed an opening double and hit a batter in the first inning, but came out of the jam with a double play. After a perfect second, Kluber gave up the home run to Stokes and then avoided further damage by resolving a two-on-one and one-out situation.
Kluber, who turns 35 in April, struck out three in two perfect innings in his other start on March 3 against Toronto. He had a live hitting practice session five days later.
After losing to eventual AL champion Tampa Bay Rays in a five-game divisional series last year, the Yankees allowed Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and JA Happ to become free agents. They signed Kluber to a one-year, $ 11 million deal and acquired Jameson Taillon from Pittsburgh for four prospects.
“He looks like himself,” Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu said. “The ball moves everywhere.”
New York’s projected rotation also includes ace Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery. Deivi García and Domingo German are among the candidates for the fifth starting position.
Associated Press contributed to this report.