New York Yankee News: Boone to return Sunday? Yankees play the Pirates today and more

New York Yankees, Jameson Taillon
Feb 24, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Jameson Taillon (50) throws a pitch during live batting practice during spring training workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On the evening of March 3, New York Yankee manager Aaron Boone had heart pacemaker surgery, just hours after alerting the team that he was taking medical emergency leave. Boone had been feeling a lack of energy, some lightheadedness, and bouts of labored breathing. He consulted with doctors, and they told him his heart rate was too slow and that he would need a pacemaker to fix the problem.

The surgery was completed at Tampa’s St. Joseph Hospital without complications. Boone was sent home 24 hours later. When he woke up the day after the procedure, he said he felt better than in months. He said Friday he felt even better. Boone went to the ballpark but only as far as the parking lot to have the required Covid protocol testing after being in the hospital. He said that he could be back with the club on Saturday, but being an away game, it would more likely be Sunday back at Steinbrenner Field.

Yankees to play the Pirates today

The New York Yankees will travel 50 miles south today to Bradenton, Florida, to play the Pittsburgh Pirates. It will be the first time in spring training that the Yankees will face the Pirates. With coronavirus still a factor during this spring training, the Yankees will only face the Florida West Coast teams: the Pirates, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Detroit Tigers, and the Toronto Blue Jays. Today’s game at 1 pm will not be televised.

During the offseason, the Yankees traded for Pirate’s starter James Taillon. Ironically today’s Yankee starter will be James Taillon in his second start of the season, this time against his old team.  On March 1, he pitched masterfully in his inning, putting down the Tiger side in one two three fashion using only seven pitches. It’s a small sample; the Yankees will be observing the starter as he comes back from his second Tommy John surgery. So far in spring training, the Yankees are impressed.

Today he will face Pirate’s pitcher Cody Ponce. Yankee ace Gerrit Cole and James Taillon were teammates together in 2016, 2017, and in the minor leagues. Taillon knows almost all of the Pirate’s hitter he will face today. Check back with for the game recap.

Yankees look good, but questions linger

After a long offseason of discontent, the Yankees have solved most of their major problems, and in spring training, so far they look pretty good, mostly good pitching, and many of the hitters have gotten off to a good start, including last years batting champ DJ LeMahieu who was signed to a six-year contract that will most likely see him retire as a New York Yankee. However, some questions have so far gone unanswered.

The major one is who will anchor the pitching rotation? Ace Gerrit Cole will lead the rotation, followed by Corey Kluber, James Taillon, and Jordon Montgomery. Those contending for that fifth spot are Domingo German, Deivi Garcia, Jhoulys Chacin, and even Nick Nelson. Clarke Schmidt would also be in the conversation, but he is injured. Right now, German has the edge as he pitched two perfect innings. Garcia gave up two runs in as many innings.

Another pitching question is how manager Aaron Boone and pitching coach Matt Blake limit innings for the starting rotation to remain fresh. It will be a challenge as the team builds up the pitchers to pitch a 162 game season compared to only 60 games last season. Also, Kluber, Taillon, and German didn’t pitch at all last season.

Another question is can Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres return to All-Star form? Although it’s really early in spring training, the signs are encouraging. Sanchez had two homes in just this week. Torres had a homer of his own, and there have been no complaints at shortstop.

One of the biggest questions will not be answered until the end of the season or during the postseason. That question is can Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton stay on the field for 140 games together. If they can, the New York Yankee lineup will be one to contend with and could be the key to a Yankee 28th World Championship.