The Yankees know they will be without James Paxton to start the regular season, as he had surgery to remove a cyst from his back before the start of spring training. The initial recovery time was three-to-four months, and Paxton provided an update on Thursday.
Paxton said he can start throwing again in four-to-six weeks, while that three-to-four month timeframe before he can get into a game remains the same. May or June is the target, but Paxton said he is shooting for May.
"Big Maple" went into detail about why it took so long for him to undergo surgery for the cyst.
Doctors didn't know there was a cyst, but he pitched through it anyway during the 2019 postseason. It was in November when Paxton began feeling pain down his left leg, which was treated with injections, and it wasn't until January that doctors figured out what was ailing him.
Paxton figures to be the No. 3 starter in this Yankees rotation behind Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino -- when he returns healthy of course.
In the meantime, Masahiro Tanaka and J.A. Happ will move up a spot while the fifth starter role will be up for grabs in spring training. Jordan Montgomery is the favorite to win the job, as Domingo German is serving the rest of his 81-year domestic violence suspension to start the season.
Paxton, who agreed to a one-year, $12.5 million contract with the Yankees earlier this offseason to avoid salary arbitration, owned a 15-6 record with a 3.82 ERA and 186 strikeouts in his first season in pinstripes. His better second half and solid postseason is what the team will hope he can emulate when he returns.