Frankie Montas wasn’t fully healthy when traded to Yankees from Athletics Reds can see the future in trio of young pitchers
TAMPA, Florida. — Frankie Montaz said his shoulder wasn’t completely healthy when he was acquired by the New York Yankees at last season’s trade deadline, but the starter’s right-hander said he was trying to “push through” after joining his new team.
Montaz, who went 1-3 with a 6.35 ERA in eight starts last season after being picked up from Oakland, is recovering from shoulder surgery that will keep him from shooting until at least the end of May.
“I was trying to survive,” Montas told reporters in his first post-op comment two weeks earlier. “I was traded to a new team and I wanted to show what I can do. Things didn’t go the way I expected.”
The Yankees placed Montas on the injured list in late September after his second cortisone injection of the year, eliminating him from the AL Division Series. He was in the AL Championship Series but only pitched one inning in the first game against Houston.
Montaz said he continued to feel uncomfortable trying to start a shooting program in the offseason. Although he tried to avoid surgery, he said it was the best option and that he was confident he would play for the Yankees this season.
“Trust me, I’m one of those people who wants to get on the field right now and show what I can do,” he said. “But it all went wrong, so I’m just trying to recover and come back so I can help with what they want me to do.”
After Montas underwent surgery on Feb. 21, Yankees manager Aaron Boone described the procedure as a pitcher getting his upper lip cleaned without any repair to his rotator cuff. Boone said everything was going according to plan.
New York acquires Montas and pitcher Lou Trivino from Athletics on August 1 in exchange for four runs.
Montaz, who turns 30 on March 21 and could become a free agent after this season, made 19 appearances for the A’s last year before being traded. He was 4-9 with a 3.18 ERA over 104 1/3 innings.
Weeks before the deal, he left the starting lineup on July 3 in Seattle after 13 pitches with a strained shoulder, then received a shot of cortisone before returning with three scoreless innings on July 21 against Detroit. He had five innings against Houston in his last start for Oakland.
Last season, the Cincinnati Reds brought in their top three pitchers to revive a starting rotation hurt by cost cuts.
right-handers Hunter Green And Graham Ashcraftand lefty Nick Lodolo survived rookie struggles — with stunning flashes of brilliance, mixed — as the recovering Reds lost 100 games for the first time in 40 years.
“We’ve already seen the progress you want to see,” manager David Bell said at a practice session in Goodyear, Arizona, in early spring. “I hope they have many, many more years ahead of them. This is just the very beginning. They must keep working to get better. You still haven’t figured it out. That’s what I see this spring.”
Pitching coach Derek Johnson told them about their chance to be a foundation like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavin and John Smoltz for the 1990s Atlanta Braves.
“The three of us talk about being the core – every day,” Green, 23, said. “Looking at us in this light is something special. Having friendship but also rivalry is exciting. The chemistry couldn’t be better.”
Green was selected with the second overall pick in the 2017 amateur draft. He joined the Day One roster in 2022, threw 100 mph fastballs and led the Reds in starts, innings and strikeouts. He was late on the injured list with a strained shoulder, finishing 5-13 with a 4.44 ERA and 164 strikeouts in 125 2/3 innings.
In the opening game against Tampa Bay in July, Green threw 38 shots at 100 mph or more. When Green returned from the injured list in September, he threw 33 innings of 101 mph or better in six innings against the Cardinals, striking out 11.
Relying on a four-seam fastball and a slider, Green worked to develop a shift — last year he threw it just 5% of the time, at an average speed of 90 mph.
“An extra tool for me to become an even better pitcher,” he said.
25-year-old 6ft 6in (4-7, 3.66 ERA in 19 starts) Lodolo doesn’t have that speed, but looks intimidating with a high strikeout percentage and low walking speed. The stocky 25-year-old Ashcraft (5-6, 4.89) averaged 97 mph with his fastball and cutter.
“I mean, we have good friendships across the team, but the three of us are pretty close,” Lodolo said. “It’s a good internal competition between all of us and I know all three are pulling on the same side of the rope.”