DUNEDIN, Fla. — As the battle for the final spot in the Yankees’ rotation continues, Aaron Boone said his focus isn’t simply on whether Deivi Garcia or Domingo German — or someone else — will fill the No. 5 slot.
“As much as Opening Day and the start of the season is a big thing, it’s a long season,’’ Boone said Sunday. “Both those guys and the rest of the starters are gonna be counted on in big ways. Let’s just continue to see it play out and hopefully on April 1, when we’re setting our roster, we have a good, difficult decision in front of us — but also not a final decision.”
It’s certainly possible Garcia could begin the season at the alternate site in order to preserve his innings and give him more time to sharpen his control, which he acknowledged wasn’t where he wanted it to be in a solid outing against the Blue Jays.
Garcia tossed three innings and gave up one unearned run in the Yankees’ 5-1 win over Toronto at TD Ballpark. He threw 44 pitches and some more in the bullpen instead of starting the fourth and touched 95 mph.
German is scheduled to start against the Phillies on Monday in Tampa.
“German has looked more major league ready,’’ said one scout in attendance Sunday. “But with the way this season is going to work out with needing so many pitchers in different spots, they’re probably better off with Garcia in a controlled environment to start, anyway.”
“I feel really good,’’ Garcia said through an interpreter. “My command wasn’t exactly where I expect it to be.”
Boone agreed with Garcia’s assessment, but “liked the adjustments he was able to make within the outing to make the big pitches he needed to and self-correct when he got out of whack with his delivery.”
In a potential sign of growth on the mound, the 21-year-old was able to fight his way through the issue in the second.
After a leadoff walk to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and a flyout by Cavan Biggio, Garcia allowed a hard double to right to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Guerrero scored on right fielder Greg Allen’s throwing error, but Garcia got Randal Grichuk to fly out and then struck out Reese McGuire.
In the third, after a one-out walk to George Springer, Garcia fell behind Marcus Semien, 2-0, before getting an inning-ending double play grounder.
It’s the kind of progression Boone talked about before the game, when he noted of Garcia’s previous start in Lakeland against the Tigers, he was able to get some double-play ground balls after falling behind on batters.
Boone added he wouldn’t “get too caught up in performance.”
“It’s more about him continuing to build up,’’ Boone said. “We want him to continue to develop and work on pitches and command the ball how he wants to.”
He ended up walking two and striking out a pair, but wasn’t ready to stake his claim to a place on the roster.
“I try to give the best I have every time I go out and demand a lot of myself,’’ Garcia said. “I try to improve every outing. I think if you keep doing that, little by little, you can state your case.”
Garcia added, “You come into camp and you understand the possibilities. You get excited about that. It’s not a decision I can make. I just want to give the best I have and throughout the process, don’t forget to enjoy it.’’
And if the Yankees have the season they believe they are in store for, Garcia — and German — will almost certainly be called upon extensively throughout the year — if not starting on April 1.