Yankees finally get some good news from Donaldson, Severino

Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson and starter Luis Severino.

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The New York Yankees finally had some good news from Josh Donaldson, who produced some great moments at the plate on Tuesday. The third baseman hit two home runs in a 6-3 win over the Tigers at Steinbrenner Field. This came up after he tried to simplify his swing by making a small change to his stance.

Since joining the Yankees last spring, Donaldson has had a lot of problems, and he has been having a hard time for most of this spring. Even he remains among the players most hated by the Yankees fans.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said on Tuesday that he saw Donaldson change his swing during his first round of batting practice and told him, “That’s it, right there.”

Boone and Donaldson wouldn’t say exactly what the 37-year-old was doing differently, but a scout from the National League who was at the game said there was less of a leg kick, which made Donaldson’s swing shorter and helped him get to the ball faster.

In the fourth inning, he smashed a home run to left center off a 94 mph sinker from Spencer Turnbull. In the sixth, he had another home run to left center.

Josh Donaldson with Hank Aaron

Donaldson said that the results were due to the progress he’s made this spring and the work he’s done since the end of his terrible first season with the Yankees last year.

When asked if he was putting more weight on his performance this spring than in previous years because of his struggles in 2022, Donaldson told:

“I think from Day 1 in the offseason, I looked to put more weight on it to make sure that any problems I thought I had I was going to address.”

This spring, at least on the field, he hadn’t done much to win over the Yankees fans until Tuesday.

With the adjustments he made at the plate, Boone said Donaldson “cleaned some things up … and that allows him to give himself some space and be a little quicker.”

Luis Severino assures Yankees with his best spring start

In his first four starts of the spring, Luis Severino allowed 13 earned runs and five home runs in 11 innings. His ERA was in the double digits, and it looked like he was going to have another rough start for the Yankees.

But on Tuesday, the Yankees right-hander produced his best start of the spring. First, he gave up a home run and two hits. But Severino then pitched what may have been his best stretch of the spring, putting any worries to rest. In the end, he got 13 swings and misses and struck out nine batters over the course of four innings.

The Yankees third starter used sliders for 31 of his 74 pitches, working on his breaking ball, which he hadn’t been happy with in his previous starts. Severino got five whiffs and seven called strikes with sliders.

“Best breaking ball and slider he’s had all spring,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I thought it was really sharp. It was really good. He threw a number of them where from my side angle, [it had] that late disappearing bite that Sevy’s known for. Life was there with the heater, a lot of swing and miss. Good day.”

Severino had mostly ignored the results because he was more interested in finding out which pitches worked best on a given day and, most importantly, in staying healthy.

Luis Severino with CC Sabathia during the Yankees 2023 spring training camp.

But Severino was happy with how well he controlled his slider on Tuesday when the Tigers didn’t get a hit on it.

“It was really good today,” Severino said. “I got [Jose Trevino catching] and he knew what was working, so he was calling it a lot.”

After the first inning, Trevino, who had been out with a sprained wrist, took over calling the game.

Severino said earlier that he wanted to have the PitchCom device to call most of his pitches, but Trevino decided to take that job away from him and call the pitches from behind the plate.

According to Boone, Severino could focus more on his pitches if he didn’t have to do PitchCom.

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