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Yankees' Montgomery Ready To Rebound

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TAMPA
—Over the past year or so, the Yankees and talent evaluators outside the organization have talked up homegrown prospects Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez, Jorge Mateo and Greg Bird. The buzz picked up traction after all five did very well last season. Now, the Yankees refuse to include them in any deal. The hope is they can become the backbone of the big league club in the near future.
However, there are no guarantees. The latest example of that is righthander Mark Montgomery. After the 2012 season, when he worked for high Class A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, the 11th-round pick in the 2011 draft from Longwood was being compared to David Robertson thanks to a freakish slider that made hitters look silly. In 46 relief appearances, Montgomery went a combined 7-2, 1.54 to go with 99 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings. Then a back problem slowed Montgomery in his first big league camp in 2013. That season he appeared in 29 games for three teams, two of which were in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. While he pitched effectively for Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2014 and 2015, Montgomery wasn’t invited to big league spring training a year ago and was added to the roster at the last minute this year. "I understood the situation, I hadn’t been healthy and didn’t pitch as well as I should have,” Montgomery said. "That was on me.” Still, the 25-year-old Montgomery has time to reach the big leagues thanks to "unique slider that had the action of a split and was a big-time swing-and-miss pitch’’ according to a talent evaluator very familiar with Montgomery. "That’s the out pitch, but the biggest thing for me is fastball command,’’ said Montgomery, who pitched 23 games for Leones del Caracas in the Venezuela Winter League this year and showed a fastball in the 92-94 mph range. "My walks were down last winter and I had a good winter.” YANKEE DOODLES • The Yankees signed utilityman Chris Denorfia to a minor league deal and invited him to big league spring training. Denorfia put together a .691 OPS last season with the Cubs. • Righthander Domingo German
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, who had Tommy John surgery last year, felt irritation again in his right elbow and was shut down for two weeks as of March 4.

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