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Yankees Set To Use Severino As No. 4 Starter

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Luis Severino has a lot to prove this season, and he's going to get ample opportunity to show he belongs.

The talented-yet-enigmatic right-hander has made the Yankees' Opening Day roster and will be their No. 4 starter, manager Joe Girardi announced Thursday.

Severino, 23, showed real promise after being called up in 2015, going 5-2 with a 2.89 ERA in 11 starts, but struggled mightily last year, posting 3-8 record and an unsightly 5.83 ERA in 22 appearances, including just 11 starts.

The Dominican right-hander has at times actually looked better suited as a reliever, but the Yankees still envision him as a starter, and perhaps a rotation anchor going forward.

The Yankees face a potential conundrum going forward because ace Masahiro Tanaka can opt out of his contract after this season, and veterans Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia are in the final years of their deals. The Bombers are hopeful they can promote from within should they have glaring holes and Severino, once considered the top pitching prospect in the organization, has always been touted as a potential star.

Severino has pitched fairly well in spring training, going 2-0 with a 3.95 ERA, but has struggled with his command from time to time, prompting Girardi to express some concern. In his most recent outing, however, last Friday against Philadelphia, Severino threw three perfect innings with five strikeouts.

With Severino now entrenched in the fourth slot, the Yankees will turn their attention to the final spot in the rotation. Youngsters Bryan Mitchell, Chad Green and Jordan Montgomery appear to still be in the running, but the Bombers won't need a fifth starter for a while, so they'll get their work in elsewhere.

As for the rest of the roster, the Yankees announced Thursday that Aaron Judge has won the starting right-field job and utilityman Rob Refsnyder has been sent down to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre.

The power-hitting, 24-year-old Judge was battling veteran Aaron Hicks, known best for his defense, in right field. Judge is hitting .345 with three homers this spring while Hicks is batting .264 with three home runs. Despite losing the competition, Hicks will remain on the big-league roster.

"It's been a good race," general manager Brian Cashman told WFAN's Mike Francesa on Wednesday. "They've both played well. I think Hicks has played very well from start to finish, and I think Judge has played well, even more so to the end, even though statistically he got out of the gate kind of hot. But I think he's been swinging the bat much better of late, too. They both played really good defense. So it's been a good, healthy competition."

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