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Yankees still deciding on Opening Day starter

Team's 'interchangeable' aces giving Aaron Boone a lot to consider

TAMPA -- The Yankees rarely send key pitchers on the road to face division rivals in Spring Training, so Chance Adams will be starting Wednesday's game against the Orioles in Sarasota.

Luis Severino, however, was set to get his work in, likely during the intra-squad games of camp day at the Minor League complex, and that work was day three of a stretch set to see all five projected members of the Opening Day rotation go. Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia pitched Monday and Tuesday's home games, and Sonny Gray and Jordan Montgomery will go Thursday and Friday, respectively, at Steinbrenner Field.

And with the Opening Day starter still not set just 15 days out, this week marks five chances (well, four) for manager Aaron Boone and pitching coach Larry Rothschild to take a look at what the skipper called an "interchangeable" set of possibilities.

"We're a little bit unique because it's not so obvious for us," Boone said. "I think we're a little more interchangeable than most clubs, so what goes into our decision might be more mapping out off-days, and figuring out who they might face the second or third or fourth time through."

To his credit, Boone is right. Sabathia and Tanaka have both made Opening Day starts as Yankees, Sonny Gray has done so in Oakland and Luis Severino finished third in AL Cy Young Award voting last season, having the best year of the four.

"I mean, yeah, Sevy finished top three in Cy Young voting and looks like a budding ace in our league," Boone said. "Tanaka has been a big game guy for us, CC has been in that role and we've seen Sonny Gray be elite in the postseason. They've all got the credentials."

There's also Jordan Montgomery, who may be a dark horse, but he has already been named the fifth member of the rotation, and, remember, he was also a dark horse to even win a spot last year, but did so and made 29 starts.

Still a tight race, and one that, while not decided, is getting closer to the finish line.

"Nothing final yet, but Larry (Rothschild) and I have had conversations about it," Boone said. "We're starting to hone in on it. Could be a week or so, could be less, but those conversations are starting to happen with a little more urgency."

There is one thing that's almost a certainty, though: Boone hinted last week that CC Sabathia would likely start during the season-opening four-game set in Toronto -- even though a push back to the fifth spot (for now) would allow CC to both avoid the artificial surface at Rogers Centre and get to start the Yankees' home opener -- and that seems to still be the case.

"I would say that's a pretty safe bet, yeah," Boone said.