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Yankees' Montgomery ready to get abbreviated season started

By DENNIS BRUNSON
dennis@theitem.com
Posted 6/26/20

Gauging the excitement level of Jordan Montgomery is not an easy task. Whether viewing his facial expressions on the mound while pitching for the New York Yankees or listening to the inflection of his words when he speaks, either would lead one to …

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Yankees' Montgomery ready to get abbreviated season started

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Gauging the excitement level of Jordan Montgomery is not an easy task. Whether viewing his facial expressions on the mound while pitching for the New York Yankees or listening to the inflection of his words when he speaks, either would lead one to think Montgomery doesn't get too keyed up.

The 6-foot-6-inch left-hander insists that he is one happy man that a month from now Major League Baseball will be starting a 60-game schedule after having spring training shut down in the middle of March and what will be almost four months of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I was excited that we're going to finally have a season," Montgomery said. "I was trying to stay out of it other than that. I was only trying to worry about what I could control. I was glad we got to a season, and we'll see what happens from now on."

What Montgomery "was trying to stay out of" was the back-and-forth negotiations between the owners and the MLB Players' Association over finances, the number of games to be played, safety precautions due to the virus and the such.

"Fans don't understand all of the stuff that's going on in the background," Montgomery said when asked if he felt any frustration over the contentiousness of the negotiations. "I could go on all day about that, but I don't want to, so I'd rather not answer that question."

Commissioner Rod Manfred mandated that there will be a 60-game schedule as opposed to the normal 162 games. Montgomery is just happy to have games for which to prepare.

"It's better than nothing," Montgomery said. "I'm excited to get back out there and compete and have a job again. I'm just excited to play baseball, give the fans something to watch and give people something to watch on TV and go for the World Series again."

Regardless of the squabbles and the lack of fans in the stands, Montgomery thinks he and his fellow players will be more than ready when the season begins.

"I think everyone's going to be so excited they're going to come out (and) everybody is going to be ready," he said. "I'm not just throwing bullpens, wasting time anymore. I'm excited to kind of have something to focus on and prepare for."

The players are scheduled to report for "spring training" on July 1 in order to prepare for the season, which is scheduled to begin either July 23 or July 24.

The Yankees will be training in New York as opposed to their normal site in Tampa, Florida. Montgomery said he will be flying there in the next few days, and he feels good about the condition of his arm because of the work he did in private bullpen sessions while here in Sumter.

"I've been doing my best to stay strong and stay ready," he said. "I'm going to show up ready (and) built up. I've been throwing four innings (simulated games in bullpen sessions) every five days. I feel like I'm in a good spot to increase that to five and six innings during spring training. I'll be ready to break (spring training) and ready to throw 80-something pitches, it's up to them. I'm just going to put myself in the best position to go deep in the game for my team."

Montgomery made the Yankees Opening Day roster out of spring training in 2017, but missed the vast majority of both the '18 and '19 seasons due to Tommy John surgery.

He said he was ready to return to the mound full-time when spring training began, and nothing has changed in the shutdown.

"It didn't matter," Montgomery responded when asked if the delay helped him in his left arm's recovery. "I've been ready. I was just as healthy then as I am now, knock on wood. If anything, I just got stronger. I used my time as well as a I could have."

It has often been said that a baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. However, with only basically one-third of the season being played this year, it will be a sprint. Come what may, Montgomery doesn't think the season should be seen in a lesser light.

"I don't really care," he said. "It's not like all the teams aren't doing the same thing. It's not like it's really an unfair advantage for anybody. The best team is going to win it. The best team is going to win it every year, whether it's 60 games or 160 games. Whoever's going to win it is going to win it.

"I think it actually gives the worst teams a better chance, honestly, because the better teams are going to come out on top in a long season like that. When you're only playing 60 games, you don't have that grind period where the good teams win and the bad teams fall off."