“I think they’re up to something”

TAMPA — Add the Yankees to the list of teams who prefer PitchCom.

On their first day with the handheld device, which transmits pitch signals from catchers to pitchers, the Yankees were encouraged by the product and hope to potentially implement it during the regular season if MLB decides to allow it.

“I think they’re up to something,” manager Aaron Boone said Saturday.

Teams across the league have been experimenting with PitchCom this spring — including the Mets — with early results offering hope that it can improve the pace of play and also prevent opponents from stealing shields, as well as the paranoia that comes with that threat.

After using it during Deivi Garcia’s live batting practice on a Saturday morning in the backfield — Boone slipped one of the five audio transmitters into his hat while he watched — the Yankees decided to ask Severino if he wanted to try it out about an hour before his start the Braves at Steinbrenner Field.

Severino agreed, meaning that instead of looking inward to decipher catcher Kyle Higashioka’s signs, Higashioka could simply press buttons on his bracelet to tell Severino the pitch and location.

The Yankees exec gave a good early rundown of MLB's new PitchCom system.
The Yankees exec gave a good early rundown of MLB’s new PitchCom system.
USA TODAY sports

“I thought it was great,” Severino said. “I was a bit skeptical at first, but once we started using it it was really good – even with a man in second place. I would definitely like to use it on my first start [of the regular season]. … You know immediately which pitch you are going to throw.”

Severino said the technology could be programmed so the pitcher hears pitching instructions in English or Spanish, but he chose the former.

Boone said Higashioka also started liking it after the first few innings when he became more comfortable with it and continued to use it with Nestor Cortes Jr. exonerating Severino.

“I think it helped the guys pick up the pace of the game a little bit, which was encouraging,” pitching coach Matt Blake said. “I think there’s a lot of use for that. I think it was well received by the group, which I wasn’t sure about baseball boys and tradition when I threw it to them at the last minute.”

With three days left in spring training, Blake said the Yankees would try to use their pitchers and catchers as often as possible so they are prepared for when MLB deems it viable for the regular season.

“No hiccups,” Boone said. “It’s pretty cool.”

Pitching coach Matt Blake said the Yankees had some complicated decisions to make about pitching staff ahead of Opening Day due to understretched starters and an unforgiving schedule.

“Each starter is built to around 70-75 [pitches]’ Blake said. “So we’re going to play four or five innings [with the starters] a week and a half.”

Rosters are set to expand from 26 to 28 by the end of April, allowing teams to add pitchers, and Blake said several are competing to serve as long assists.

Manny Banuelos, once a young Yankees contender now trying to revive his career, has impressed and the left-hander was picked as an option by Blake, as was JP Sears.

Blake also mentioned Deivi Garcia amid a strong spring after a disastrous 2021 season.

Joey Gallo came on with 11 strikeouts in 27 plate appearances but hit two balls hard on Saturday – including a 111-mile laser down right field that turned into a doubles play when Anthony Rizzo was kicked out at home. He also lined short and left.

“I have a feeling he’s really close,” Boone said.

Jordan Montgomery is scheduled to throw a “light live [batting practice]’ on Tuesday in his final tuneup for the regular season. The left-hander is scheduled to face the Red Sox in game three of the season on April 10. “I think they’re up to something”


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