TAMPA — Luis Severino could be even better than before following Tommy John surgery, according to longtime Yankees bullpen coach Mike Harkey.
“I think when he does come back, he’s gonna be much stronger,’’ Harkey said Saturday of Severino, who is expected to return to the rotation around midseason after undergoing elbow surgery a little over a year ago.
Harkey’s reasoning lies in the fact that being sidelined gave Severino an opportunity to work on his body in ways he couldn’t when he was preparing for starts every five days.
“If you dig into it, you can do things to your body you weren’t able to when you’re healthy because you have the time,’’ Harkey said.
Harkey was among the Yankees pleased with Severino’s most recent step, when the right-hander threw his first bullpen session since the procedure, a 20-pitch session that featured all fastballs in which he looked sharp.
“I’ve seen a lot of first-time bullpens after Tommy John and watching [Severino’s], it was probably the most comfortable I’ve ever seen a player throwing his bullpen and probably the most aggressive I’ve seen from a player,’’ Harkey said.
That echoed what Aaron Boone said Thursday of the Tuesday session, when the manager added they considered having Severino dial it back, since the ball was coming out so well.
“It looked like there was zero apprehension or worry about whether his surgically-repaired elbow was sound,’’ Harkey said. “That, for me, was probably the biggest thing. He still has probably 20 or 30 more bullpens and a lot more live [batting practices] and games. He’s still a long ways away, but it was a very encouraging first sign.”