Yankees LHP James Paxton took a big step on Wednesday toward his eventual return, throwing for the first time since December.
Paxton, who had surgery in February to remove a peridiscal cyst, threw 25 tosses from a distance of 60 feet while playing catch, according to Lindsey Adler of The Athletic.
The 31-year-old Paxton said, per Adler, that it was the first time he was pain-free since September and that mid-May is the best case scenario for his return to big league games.
Shortly after Paxton had surgery, the expectation was that he would be out three-to-four months, and he seems to be on track to return within that timeline.
"It's all going to depend on how things go in this rehab process," Paxton said in February after having surgery. "They told me four-to-six weeks before I can start throwing, so if we're on the closer side of that, that's going to put me two weeks closer to being on the mound. I'm thinking that I'll be back in a big league game some time in May."
After Paxton underwent surgery in February, the Yankees lost Luis Severino for the season due to Tommy John surgery, meaning the starting rotation on Opening Day is expected to consist of Gerrit Cole at the top, followed by Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, Jordan Montgomery, and whoever wins the battle for the No. 5 spot.
Among the options for the final spot in the rotation are Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Cessa, Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, and Michael King.
While Schmidt has been impressive in spring training, there are two problems with naming him the No. 5 starter at this point, SNY's Andy Martino recently wrote.