PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — If not for injuries and a slight build some believe wouldn’t hold up under the strain of being a starting pitcher, Jonathan Loaisiga might be a fixture in some team’s rotation.
As it is, there is a chance the 5-foot-11, 165-pound right-hander lands in the Yankees’ rotation that is already without James Paxton and might be missing Luis Severino, who will undergo three days of tests in New York this week designed to find out why his right forearm is sore.
Loaisiga made his first spring training appearance Sunday, starting in a 9-7 loss to the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. He retired all three batters he faced and struck out one.
“There is a chance for a spot in the rotation. If that happens, I have to do my job on the field,’’ said Loaisiga, who missed all of 2014 and 2015 with arm trouble when he was in the Giants’ system. Claimed by the Yankees in February 2016, Loaisiga was limited to one game that year. Last season the 25-year-old hit the injured list with a strained right shoulder.
There also could be an opening in the bullpen. Or, since he has an option left, Loaisiga could start the season at Triple-A.
Already equipped with several different above-average fastballs that produce a lot of swings and misses, Loaisiga is trying to add a slider into an arsenal that also includes a changeup and curveball.
“Something we talked about, adding another weapon,’’ said Loaisiga, who threw 14 pitches Sunday.
“He threw some really good changeups,’’ manager Aaron Boone said. “The strikeout on the changeup was a really good pitch. From the side, for a second, I thought it might have been a breaking ball [because] it had so much depth on it.’’