Yankees Anthony Rizzo isn’t really worried about back issue


Fort Meyers, Fla. — Anthony Rizzo and the Yankees are downplaying a back issue that they barely see as a back issue.

A day after Rizzo’s back felt “stiff,” and he missed a short road trip, the Yankees first baseman took batting practice in Tampa and said he felt “fine,” according to manager Aaron Boone.

Rizzo, who has dealt with back problems the last few seasons, also acknowledged that any sign of back trouble could set off alarms.

“I know it always causes anxiety whenever [people hear] A tight back,” Rizzo said Monday at the Yankees’ facility, “but not really worried about that at this point.”

Rizzo said he received some treatment on the back, which kept him from joining the Yankees on a two-game road trip in Fort Myers. The bus ride would have taken a couple of hours, which wouldn’t be ideal for a back with any sort of problem.

“There’s no point in ever doing anything in terms of pushing yourself in that aspect in spring training,” the 33-year-old Rizzo said. “Just be smart.”

Boone said if Rizzo comes through the workout OK, he will play against the Blue Jays at Steinbrenner Field on Tuesday.

Anthony Rizzo before a spring training game on March 1.

Rizzo’s back issues worsened as the season went on last year, when he needed an epidural in September, adding to complications and an injury list.

Rizzo, who re-signed this offseason to a two-year, $40 million contract, has said he will need to manage his back this season.

Devi Garcia looked “really good,” Boone said, in 3 ¹/₃ innings of relief in what has been a bounce-back spring for the young righty.

“It’s been encouraging to see how good his stuff has been really since the start of camp,” Boone said after the Yankees’ loss to the Twins, 1-0, at Hammond Stadium.

Garcia had two hits and walked two, giving up one run, on a Max Kepler home run. He has surrendered two runs in 7 ¹/₃ Grapefruit League innings.

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Devi Garcia pitches for the Yankees on March 13.

“Content-wise, he’s just been a lot crisper,” Boone said of Garcia. “He’s throwing fastballs by guys right now, and that’s good to see.”

Garcia’s velocity is up, and he also credits an improving cutter for his success.

Garcia arrived in the major leagues at just 21 with a big-time curveball, an offering he says is still in the arsenal but apparently hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Garcia has struggled significantly over the past two seasons, mostly spent in the minor leagues.

“To kick out the leftists, [the curveball] was giving me trouble,” Garcia said.

Aaron Hicks started in center field a day after non-roster invitee Rafael Ortega started in center. Boone said both are legitimate options at the spot with Harrison Bader injured.

– Additional reporting by John Heyman in Tampa

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