TAMPA — Dellin Betances is slowly making up the stagger.
A late arrival to spring training due to the birth of his first child, Betances admitted he was behind the other Yankees pitchers, but Tuesday he took a step toward catching up when he threw his first simulated game/live batting practice on Field 2 of the Yankees’ spring training complex.
“I think we have had a good program. I have thrown a good amount of bullpens [sessions] before this first BP. I mean, I am still a long ways away,” Betances said after throwing to hitters with members of the Yankees’ brass Tim Naehring, Matt Daley and Dan Giese watching from behind the backstop.
The next part of Betances’ program he guessed will be a bullpen session Thursday, a day off and a second sim game/live batting practice.
“Five to six [outings] and I should be fine as long as I build arm strength, that’s the key,” Betances said. “I feel better each and every day. I am starting to feel my arm is getting stronger. It’s still not quite where it needs to be, but that will take time.”
Betances said he yanked a couple of fastballs and blamed it on being jumpy but said the breaking ball was “really sharp.”
As for the revamped Yankees bullpen, which many believe is the best in baseball due to talent and depth, Betances is impressed with the addition of Adam Ottavino and bringing Zack Britton back.
“We are very deep and have guys who can strike out guys at a high level and give a lot of options to [Aaron] Boone to play with and at the same time get our days off when we need them,” said Betances, who has fanned 607 batters in 373 1/3 innings across the past five seasons. “We still have great guys pitching no matter who that is. We feed off each other and have a great year.”
The Yankees and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, have talked about a contract extension that would keep the soon-to-be 31-year-old and four-time All Star away from free agency, which he is eligible for after this coming season.
Without getting into specifics about those talks, Betances again professed his love for being a Yankee.
“It’s a great team, a great group of guys. We have kind of grown up together,” said Betances, a product of Grand Street Campus High School in Brooklyn. “This is special and the years going forward. It’s a great group of guys and I love playing here.”
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