TAMPA — Jameson Taillon called putting on a Yankees uniform for the first time Thursday “special.”
“When you say it, everyone in baseball — every sports fan — knows what the Yankees pinstripes mean,” Taillon said Friday. “So [Thursday], putting it on, even just sitting at my locker, I took a picture in my pants just at my locker. I thought it was so cool. I didn’t know how it was going to feel until you actually get here and you’re a part of this and you start feeling like a part of the team and organization. … I mean, it’s the Yankees. What else can you say?”
More important for the Yankees, Taillon felt just as good throwing, as he comes back from a second Tommy John surgery that sidelined him for most of 2019 and all of last season.
“My command’s been good and the stuff has been good,’’ Taillon said. “I feel like I’m ready for another step here soon. We’ll see how it translates.”
He expects to face hitters soon and, following what Taillon called an “intense 35-pitch bullpen” Thursday, he was able to long-toss Friday and said he “felt great.”
There figures to be plenty of competition for the fifth starter’s spot this spring and Aaron Boone said Friday that Deivi Garcia will remain a starter instead of going to the bullpen.
“We want him starting,’’ Boone said.
Garcia, 21, said he spent the offseason trying to “simplify” and “sharpen” all four of his pitches.
Others in the pen could provide length, including Jonathan Loaisiga.
“We’ll build him up,’’ Boone said of Loaisiga. “He’s got versatility.”
The Yankees could have some arms that could start open the season in the pen.
“I guess that’s possible,’’ Boone said.
Darren O’Day and Adam Ottavino are both right-handed, but have wildly different approaches and stuff. On a team — and in a bullpen — that features plenty of hard-throwers, O’Day, who throws sidearm, is certainly different, which pitching coach Matt Blake hopes is a positive development for the staff.
“I don’t know if we explicitly said we need to vary our looks [in the pen],” Blake said. “But I do think there’s value in having different looks throughout the bullpen, so you’re not running seven of the same guys out there and the other team gets adjusted to that.’’
Before agreeing to a deal with Brett Gardner on Friday, the Yankees had just one player — Aroldis Chapman — who had been on a World Series-winning team. When asked about the relative lack of title experience, Boone said, “We feel like we have a lot of strong personalities that lead in a number of different ways and we still may add 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.