Yankees name their starter for Spring Training’s first game

Andres Chavez
New York Yankees, Michael King
Sep 4, 2020; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Michael King (73) throws a pitch in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are already stretching, running, batting, and throwing in their spring training complex, getting ready for another shot at their 28th title. The club is eager to end a drought that has lasted more than a decade, and everybody is taking the 2021 season with a huge sense of responsibility.

Live games are about to start over the weekend, and the Yankees have already named their ‘spring training opening day’ starter, so to speak. And Aaron Boone’s selection is an interesting name that it fighting for a roster spot and for a chance to show some changes he has been working on for months.

Yankees right-hander Michael King, according to MLB.com’s beat writer Bryan Hoch, will start for the club’s Grapefruit League opener against the Blue Jays on Sunday at George M. Steinbrenner Field. The announcement, obviously, was made by Boone.

The Yankees are hoping for an improved King

Hoch had recently written that King “benefited from his time at the Yankees’ alternate training site this past summer, where he huddled with pitching coordinator Sam Briend to refine the axis of his changeup, giving it a different profile than his fastball. The right-hander saw results in the AL Division Series, retiring all six Rays he faced in a Game 3 relief appearance.”

Per Hoch, “King has also changed his slider into a curveball, tinkering with improvements that he believes will help him secure a rotation spot in 2021.”

The right-hander took part in nine games, four of them starts, for the Yankees in 2020. He didn’t fare well, with a 7.76 ERA.

“I’ve been feeling great,” King said. “I took a little different approach this offseason and threw a lot more live BP. I got down to Tampa earlier than I normally would. I was lucky to have [Aaron] Judge, [Mike] Ford and [Gary] Sánchez to throw to. Luckily I’m not facing guys like that this season, but it was awesome for me.”