By Lenn Robbins
When the Yankees opened the vault and gave Gerrit Cole a $324 million deal, they all but took out an LCD billboard in Times Square: Title No. 28, No Excuses.
Even after learning that Jim Paxton would miss at least the first two months of the season after undergoing a micro discectomy to remove a lower back cyst, and losing Luis Severino for the season to Tommy John surgery, manager Aaron Boone didn’t blink.
“I don’t want to sugarcoat the fact that being without Sevy, that’s a blow, but it doesn’t change our expectations and what we’re truly capable of,” Boone told reporters recently. “So, no, nothing changes.”
It may not if Jordan Montgomery pitches as he has this preseason.
Montgomery, who won the No.5 starter spot in 2017 only to lose most of 2018 and ’19 to the knife, struck out four and allowed just one hit in two innings against the Red Sox. He struck out three and walked one in his first preseason outing.
“I’ll treat it like 2017,” Montgomery told reporters about how he’s approaching this preseason. “I’ll do my best to compete. Things always happen, so the more arms you have the better. I’ve got to be ready.
“I just want to pitch and be healthy. Whatever the Yankees need, I’ll bring something to the table. I had a normal offseason, finally. Good to get home and just work out and throw. I feel pretty strong right now. It’s good to have a new arm.’’
The old one wasn’t too bad. He went 9-7 in 2017 with a 3.88.
Unlike 2017, Montgomery has the added confidence of having done it in 2017 and returning to the mound at the end of last season. At 6-foot-6, 228 pounds, Montgomery is mostly a curveball/slider pitcher but he hit 94 on the radar gun in his first Grapefruit League game.
“I think he has proven himself at this level. For him to get back last year was big, just for his frame of mind,’’ Boone said. “The fact he was able to make it back and get some work done, get into some games, I think was big for him and his mindset moving forward.’’
With Paxton and Severino out, Montgomery’s arm could big for the Yankees.