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Yankees Camp: Frankie Montas Will Get Shoulder Surgery


TAMPA, Fla. — Every baseball season is a television series airing from mid-February through early October, with possible bonus episodes until early November. Nowhere is that this clearer than with the Yankees, the franchise that pioneered the team-branded cable network. And the pilot episode all the time starts at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

On Wednesday afternoon, as pitchers and catchers reported to spring training in Florida, the YES Network went live to the host of the show, Manager Aaron Boone, for his opening monologue. It got here in the shape of a news conference, and the primary query concerned starter Frankie Montas and the inflammation in his throwing shoulder.

“So, Frankie goes to have surgery …” Boone said.

And we’re off — with an quick plot twist!

The Yankees weren’t counting heavily on Montas, not with $63 million invested this season of their top two starters, Gerrit Cole and the newcomer Carlos Rodón. Nevertheless it sure would have been nice to have the version of Montas who was certainly one of the league’s best starters in 2021. Now, Boone conceded, the hope is that Montas might return late within the season.

Montas, an influence right-hander, was regarded as a high-impact addition when he arrived last summer in a trade from the Oakland Athletics. The Yankees gambled that his pre-existing shoulder injury wouldn’t be serious, and lost the bet: Montas never managed a high quality start (a minimum of six innings pitched with not more than three earned runs) in eight outings after the trade, and now he’s unavailable.

Luis Severino and Nestor Cortes (out in the intervening time with a hamstring strain) will likely be a part of the rotation, with Domingo Germán and Clarke Schmidt as solid options to interchange Montas. However the Yankees’ depth has been tested before the primary formal workouts.

“Anytime you will have some attrition, especially presently of 12 months when you will have pitcher injuries, that all the time scares you,” Boone said. “Nevertheless it’s also a component of the team that I actually have a ton of confidence in. I feel like our rotation, on paper — and I caution we’re in the course of February straight away, but I’m enthusiastic about their potential impact and what they may be. I’m also really excited in regards to the depth of our bullpen.”

The relievers, indeed, could possibly be very strong, boosted by the return of the right-hander Michael King, who has already thrown 10 bullpen sessions in his recovery from elbow surgery last July. King’s role is uncertain — can he still be a multi-inning weapon? — but his confidence in Boone’s options is unshaken.

“We will roll out an A squad every trip,” King said. “If someone needs a time without work, you possibly can replace them with someone just pretty much as good.”

The Yankees had enough talent and depth last season to pitch to a 3.30 E.R.A. (third best within the majors), and the left-hander Rodón is an upgrade over the right-hander Jameson Taillon, who signed with the Chicago Cubs. Within the last two seasons, for the Chicago White Sox and the San Francisco Giants, Rodón averaged 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings — essentially the most of any pitcher with a minimum of 40 starts — while going 27-13 with a 2.67 E.R.A.

Even so, Rodón — who signed a six-year, $162 million cope with the Yankees in December — has this in common together with his latest teammates: He, too, has been beaten by the Astros within the postseason. (Rodón lost a playoff begin to Houston in 2021.) The Astros have won 4 of the last six American League pennants, stifling the Yankees within the championship series 3 times.

Last fall’s effort was an especially emphatic flex: The Astros swept the Yankees, who batted .162 with 50 strikeouts within the 4 dreary games. The Yankees had hoped to mix contact hitters with sluggers within the series, but injuries to D.J. LeMahieu and Andrew Benintendi reduced them to a one-dimensional offense and kept the Yankees with out a pennant since their 2009 championship season.

“We led the league in runs scored last 12 months — that’s actually a thing, attempting to rating runs,” Boone said. “We ran up against a buzzsaw and we were a bit depleted. But that said, if we’re going to win all of it, we’ve got to seek out a option to get by these teams that in a given 12 months really got it rolling on the mound. We’ve got to seek out a option to have the ability to win those nip-and-tuck games, too.”

Houston went on to set a World Series record for strikeouts while beating Philadelphia (71 in six games), and Boone acknowledged that the Astros had “set the usual” within the league. But while the Yankees did lead the A.L. in runs last 12 months — the Los Angeles Dodgers scored more overall — they lost Benintendi to the White Sox in free agency and have questions at several positions.

Is Aaron Hicks — who has hit .211 in his last 162 games — a viable on a regular basis left fielder? Which of the three starting shortstops within the A.L.C.S. (Oswaldo Cabrera, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Oswald Peraza) will emerge as a starter in spring training — or will the highest prospect Anthony Volpe win the job? How much does third baseman Josh Donaldson have left?

The Yankees retained their latest captain, Aaron Judge, after his 62-homer explosion, and brought back the dependable first baseman Anthony Rizzo. LeMahieu’s broken toe has healed, and it would be fun to observe a Gold Glove winner, Harrison Bader, fly around center field all season. There remains to be quite a bit to love from a team that just won 99 games.

“Every 12 months that I’ve been here, we’ve gone in with the concept that we wish to be a championship team,” Boone said. “It’s an inexpensive goal.”

An inexpensive goal. As slogans go, it’s accurate but uninspiring. The show is compelling, however the Yankees must punch up the script — get more range from the solid, that’s — to stretch it to November.

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