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Yankees starter Luis Severino out until at least May

Luis Severino will not only miss Opening Day but won't be ready to return to the Major Leagues until at least May 1, general manager Brian Cashman said Friday.

Cashman provided a more concrete timeline on Severino as well as Aaron Hicks and CC Sabathia, both of whom could begin the season on the injured list. Severino will begin playing catch again next week as he recovers from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. 

The 25-year-old righty was diagnosed with the injury after he was scratched from his Spring Training debut on March 5. Severino was slated to start the Yankees' opener against the Orioles on March 28, though now he will miss more than a month. Masahiro Tanaka has been named the Opening Day starter in his place.

Severino became the franchise's top starter over the last few seasons, pitching to a 3.18 ERA over 384 2/3 innings in 2017-18 while earning All-Star nods and Cy Young votes in each season. 

Cashman was hesitant to give a specific date for Severino's return. As the right-hander had yet to progress through his spring starts, Cashman said he'll have to begin his work over again, thus lengthening the process until at least May. 

Severino isn't the Yankees' only injury concern. Sabathia will have a delayed start to his season after offseason heart and knee surgeries. The Yankees' GM, however, sees Sabathia returning within the first month of the season and may have the lefty begin the campaign on the active roster in order to serve a five-game suspension that carries over from 2018. 

Sabathia has spent time on the disabled list in each of the last few seasons, primarily for knee ailments. The 38-year-old lefty is entering the final season of his career and has hovered around 150 innings of work in his last two years.

With Sabathia and Severino on the shelf, the Yankees have openings in the rotation. Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ anchor the starting staff for now while Domingo German, Luis Cessa and Jonathan Loaisiga fight for the final two spots. The latter trio combined for 23 starts and 46 total appearances during 2018 .

On the position player side, Hicks could also miss Opening Day. While the center fielder is expected to be healthy by March 28, the switch-hitter needs at-bats to be ready from both sides of the plate and could need some Minor League action beyond Spring Training. If he's unable to go at the beginning of the season, that opens the door for both Greg Bird and Luke Voit to make the initial roster or for Clint Frazier to break camp with the Yankees.