TAMPA – Jameson Taillon said putting on a Yankees uniform for the first time on Thursday is “special.”
“When you say it, everyone in baseball, every sports fan, knows what Yankees pinstripes mean,” Taillon said Friday. “So [Thursday], putting it, even sitting on my locker, I took a picture in my pants right in my locker. I thought it was awesome. I didn’t know how it was going to feel until you get here and you are part of this and you start to feel part of the team and the organization. … I mean, it’s the Yankees. What else can you say? “
More importantly for the Yankees, Taillon felt just as good pitching as he returns from a second Tommy John surgery that left him out for most of 2019 and all of last season.
“My dominance has been good and things have been good,” Taillon said. “I feel like I’m ready to take another step here soon. We’ll see how it translates. “
He hopes to face hitters soon, and after what Taillon called an “intense 35-pitch bullpen” on Thursday, he was able to hit long pitches on Friday and said “it felt great.”
There is expected to be a lot of competition for the fifth starter spot this spring, and Aaron Boone said Friday that Deivi Garcia will continue to start rather than go to the bullpen.
“We want him to start,” Boone said.
Garcia, 21, said he spent the offseason trying to “simplify” and “sharpen” his four pitches.
Others in the pen could provide length, including Jonathan Loaisiga.
“We’ll build it,” Boone said of Loaisiga. “It has versatility.”
The Yankees could have arms that could open the season at the pen.
“I guess it’s possible,” Boone said.
Darren O’Day and Adam Ottavino are right-handed, but they have wildly different approaches and things. On a team, and in a bullpen, that has a lot of tough pitchers, O’Day, who throws the side arm, is certainly different, which pitching coach Matt Blake hopes will be a positive development for the staff.
“I don’t know if we explicitly said that we have to vary our appearance [in the pen]”Said Blake. “But I think it’s valuable to have different appearances throughout the bullpen, so you’re not running seven of the same guys and the other team adapts to that.”
Before reaching a deal with Brett Gardner on Friday, the Yankees had only one player, Aroldis Chapman, who had been on a World Series winning team. When asked about the relative lack of experience in the title, Boone said: “We feel like we have a lot of strong personalities who lead in different ways and we can still add something to that mix.”
With Gardner back in the fold, they have.
Boone also added, “I feel good about the guys emerging as leaders in our room,” and pointed to Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit as examples.