Struggling New York Yankees activate pitcher Luis Severino, send former All-Star to bullpen

NEW YORK -- Pitcher Luis Severino was activated by the New York Yankees before Monday's 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers.

The two-time All-Star did not pitch in the victory, but is finally in position to make his first major league appearance in nearly two years.

"It's been long enough," Severino said before the game. "Definitely be ready for any situation."

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he plans to use Severino out of the bullpen as New York embarks on the season-defining home stretch. Monday's win, combined with the Toronto Blue Jays' loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, means the Yankees are a half-game off pace in the wild-card race in the American League. As play begins Tuesday, the Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox are in the wild-card spots.

"He could find himself in the highest-leverage situation or whatever and could evolve into a multi-inning role," Boone said. "We feel like we got a really good pitcher we got to add to the mix today."

The 27-year-old right-hander had Tommy John surgery on Feb. 27, 2020. He made four minor league appearances totaling 10⅔ innings for Tampa, Hudson Valley and Somerset, allowing four runs, five hits and one home run with three walks and 15 strikeouts.

"It will be like my first tenure here in 2015. It'll be the same emotion," Severino said. "But after I throw the first pitch, I think everything is going to come back like I used to be."

His rehabilitation was slowed when he injured his right groin on June 12 in his second minor league appearance for Hudson Valley at Brooklyn. Severino returned to pitch for Somerset on Aug. 3 and Aug. 8, then was scratched from an Aug. 13 outing for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre because of shoulder tightness.

A 19-game winner in 2018, Severino signed a four-year, $40 million contract before the 2019 season. He was limited by shoulder soreness to three appearances in 2019, the first on Sept. 17 and the last on Sept. 28, plus a pair of postseason starts that Oct. 7 against Minnesota in the AL Division Series and Oct. 15 against Houston in the AL Championship Series.

"He's worked on his changeup and I think adding kind of a cutter-and-a-slider hybrid to his repertoire," Boone said.

Right-hander Sal Romano was released by the Yankees to open a roster spot. Also, pitcher Domingo German (right shoulder inflammation) could be activated as soon as Tuesday and Jameson Taillon (right ankle tendon) could throw in a minor league game on Wednesday.

The Yankees' victory snapped a two-game skid, but they are just 6-11 since Sept. 4, falling out of prime wild-card position. But there is room to improve the rest of the way, as Boston and Toronto are on deck for the Yankees, respectively, after this series with the Rangers concludes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.