KANSAS CITY, Mo. >> Left-hander James Paxton and shortstop Didi Gregorius are closing in on their returns to the New York Yankees while right-hander Jake Barrett is heading to the injured list.
The 30-year-old Paxton has had discomfort in his left knee but is on track to rejoin the rotation this week, manager Aaron Boone said before Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Royals.
Paxton pitched four innings of one-hit ball Friday in extended spring training. He threw long toss and took pitcher’s fielding practice today. Paxton has said there’s still discomfort when he throws, but he thinks it will be manageable.
“Everything went pretty well, hoping he’s now in line to join the rotation,” Boone said.
Paxton will have one more meeting with Boone, Yankees team doctor Christopher Ahmad and athletic trainer Steve Donohue on Monday in New York.
“Through all of this, every step of the way, his bullpens, everything’s gone well,” Boone said. “But we want him also to feel like he’s in a good place to go out there and not be thinking about that, but being able to go out and be in a position to execute.”
If everything checks out, Paxton, who has been on the injured list since May 4, could be activated as soon as Wednesday. Boone indicated some minor discomfort could linger.
“As he gets back into pitching, hopefully it’s something that improves with time as well,” Boone said. “That’s sometimes part of the game, but we have to make sure it’s not something more than that.”
Paxton, 3-2 with a 3.11 ERA in seven starts, is among five Yankees starting pitchers on the injured list, joined by ace Luis Severino (right shoulder inflammation), CC Sabathia (right knee inflammation), Jordan Montgomery (Tommy John surgery) and Jonathan Loaisiga (right shoulder strain).
Barrett felt some discomfort in his right elbow while warming up during Saturday night’s 6-5 win over Kansas City. He’s been shut down and will likely go for an MRI on Monday.
“Hopefully it’s not something that’s a long-term thing,” Boone said.
RHP Joe Harvey was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to fill Barrett’s spot on the roster.
Gregorius homered Sunday as the DH for Class A Tampa in his second minor league rehab game. He played seven innings at shortstop Saturday. He’s expected to take Monday off and then move to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to continue his rehab.
Gregorius, coming back from Tommy John surgery last Oct. 17, could spend a week or two with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before returning to New York.
Dellin Betances, recovering from a right shoulder impingement, will resume throwing bullpens either Monday or Tuesday. Betances hasn’t pitched this season after being shut down late in spring training.