Yankees manager Aaron Boone is hopeful RHP Dellin Betances can build his arm strength back up with a week and a half remaining until Opening Day.
"I do think he's healthy and fine, it just taking him a while to find the arm strength," Boone said, according to the New York Daily News' Kristie Ackert, after Betances pitched in a Grapefruit League game Sunday for the first time in a week. "Talking to him again today, he kind of said it feels akin to what he feels basically every spring training early, but just hasn't broken through yet. He was efficient with his pitches, threw strikes today. Had a nice, easy inning. Hopefully this next week,10 days he can start to find that arm strength and build on it a little bit."
Betances struck out Bryce Harper, however his fastball topped out at 92 mph on Sunday, far from the high 90s he is capable of reaching. At first, even catcher Gary Sanchez was concerned.
"When I saw that his speed was around 90, I went out to have a little chat with him just to make sure that he was OK and everything was fine," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "He told me that he was."
After Betances allowed four of five batters to reach base in a spring training game last Sunday, Boone said he wasn't concerned about his 30-year-old reliever. He felt the same way this Sunday when he retired the side in order.
"I think he can get by. I also think we'll see somewhat of a bump up and then hopefully, gradually get back to that point where he is. Yeah, he can still pitch with less," Boone said. "We'll continue to build the arm strength up, Make sure we're checking in each day and making sure he's fine. That's the main thing. I do believe he's healthy, but (we're) making sure each and every day."
Betances, who struck out 115 batters in 66 2/3 innings last season and had a 2.70 ERA in 66 relief appearances, said he felt confident in his pitches on Sunday despite the lack of velocity on his fastball.
"Today was great ... the breaking balls were good and the fastball location was good," he said. "It's just the arm strength is not there."