Aaron Boone’s stated wish earlier this week that James Paxton will make it back to the Yankees’ starting rotation before the end of the regular season has just become less likely.
The lefty hurler, who is on the injured list with a strained forearm flexor, felt “a little sore” after throwing Wednesday and won’t throw again for “a couple of days,” Boone said after Thursday’s game against Baltimore was rained out and rescheduled as part of a doubleheader Friday.
Earlier this week, Boone had floated the possibility that Paxton — who hasn’t pitched since Aug. 20 — would resume throwing off a mound for the first time this weekend.
With less than three weeks remaining in the regular season, Boone sidestepped questions during his weekly WFAN radio spot and later with reporters when asked whether he believes Paxton will make it back in time to pitch before Sept. 27 — the date of the final scheduled game before the playoffs begin.
“I think they were questioning that. I wasn’t speculating on that,” Boone said about WFAN hosts Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts. “[Paxton] won’t throw for a couple of days and we’ll see where we are.”
Asked if he believed this is a significant setback for Paxton, Boone added: “I don’t know. I don’t think he’s re-injured it or anything, I just think he’s a little sore from the volume of throwing.”
Gary Sanchez is back from his brief benching, but he no longer is presently aligned with ace Gerrit Cole.
Backup backstop Kyle Higashioka was slated to catch the $324 million import for the second straight start Thursday. In their first game together last Friday — also against Baltimore — Cole allowed up five runs (but only one earned) with 10 strikeouts over six innings.
Cole will pitch the opener of Friday’s doubleheader with Masahiro Tanaka working the nightcap.
“I like the pairing, but I’ve liked the Gary and Cole pairing, too,” Boone said. “With Higgy and Cole coming off where they just faced the Orioles, we’re kind of game-planned up for these guys. I just felt it was a good move to get those two back together for the second time in six days against the same opponent.”
First baseman Luke Voit also was slated to be out of the Yankees’ lineup.
“He’s doing all right, it’s just been a long stretch of games for him, doubleheaders, and he’s had some wear and tear and I’ve been putting off getting him out of there,” Boone said. “It was kind of long overdue to get him off his feet.”
Boone said Gio Urshela (elbow) coming off the IL when eligible Tuesday “would be the expectation.” He also said Aaron Judge (calf) and Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring) are “getting close” to “getting some at-bats” and returning “pretty soon.”
Asked if he’d be comfortable starting rookie Deivi Garcia (1-1, 3.06 ERA) in a postseason game, Boone replied: “I know he wouldn’t flinch at the opportunity. … I’m totally confident, forget the pitching part of it, that he can handle any situation you throw him in. Hard to predict where we’ll be three weeks from now and just what exactly we’ll look like. But he’s certainly putting his name in those conversations because of his performance.”