Deivi Garcia making first start since Yankees disaster

CLEVELAND — The last time Deivi Garcia pitched in a game that counted, he served as the opener in the Yankees’ Game 2 loss to the Rays in last October’s ALDS.

That game did not go as planned, as Garcia gave up a first-inning homer to Randy Arozarena, and J.A. Happ struggled after entering to start the second inning.

Now, after a rough spring training, Garcia is set to make his season debut with the Yankees on Monday in Baltimore, where he would go up against former Met Matt Harvey.

After starting six games in the 2020 regular season — and serving as the opener in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Rays — Garcia entered spring training with the hope of making the rotation on Opening Day.

But his command was off, he walked eight batters in 14 Grapefruit League innings, and Domingo German earned the final spot.

The 21-year-old Garcia has since been at the alternate site in Scranton, where he said he made a slight adjustment to the grip on his slider and worked on his control. Manager Aaron Boone added he’s looking for more consistency from his delivery.

Garcia said was confident he’d be back with the Yankees, even after not making the Opening Day roster.

Deivi Garcia
Deivi Garcia

“It was another opportunity for me to work on my pitches,’’ Garcia said, through an interpreter, of his mindset after he was optioned. “I did that last year and again now in expectation, at some point, I would get a shot to help the team here.”

Aaron Hicks was held out of the lineup in Sunday’s 7-3 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field with a tight back, according to Boone.

Hicks got extra treatment on his back prior to the game, and Boone said he would have been available off the bench “possibly late,” but he went to Clint Frazier to pinch hit for Mike Tauchman in what was a one-run game in the sixth inning.Still, Boone said it was “nothing I’m worried about.”

Miguel Andujar, out since March with carpal tunnel syndrome in his right wrist, was activated from the 10-day IL following Sunday’s game and optioned to the alternate site in Scranton.

Andujar is still looking to get his career back on track after 2019 shoulder surgery. He’s never rediscovered the success he had the previous season, when he hit 27 homers and finished second to Shohei Ohtani in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. There had been thought the Yankees might need him at third base if Gio Urshela didn’t recover in time from offseason elbow surgery, but Urshela has been perhaps the Yankees’ most consistent player.

Right-hander Nick Nelson was also optioned to the alternate site after giving up three runs in two innings in Sunday’s loss.

Rougned Odor has earned praise from both Boone and his teammates for what he’s brought to the Yankees — including his frequent mound visits to settle pitchers down.

And Boone wants him to continue the practice — although he warned that sometimes the team is charged for one of their five mound visits for the game when an infielder goes to the mound.

“Usually you do [get charged], so it’s important he’s mindful of that,’’ Boone said of Odor, who also hit cleanup Sunday and reached on a walk and an error. “[Saturday] night, he did that [with Justin Wilson]. It was very instinctual and kind of heads-up.”

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