Paxton then explained what had been going wrong each time he pushed off the rubber.
“It feels like my foot is getting stuck as I’m turning, and that’s putting pressure on my M.C.L.,” he said in reference to his medial collateral ligament. “And the only place I feel it is on the mound here.”
With only one career start at Yankee Stadium before being traded here, Paxton’s logic is bolstered by the process of elimination. “This is really the only thing I can think of,” he said.
That theory made sense to another Yankee with knee problems.
Although C. C. Sabathia is battling arthritis in his right leg, which is his landing leg, he said: “I know exactly what he’s talking about, I’ve felt it before. The way the mound is here, you can feel like you’re stuck in the ground. It’s something you have to work around.”
Paxton isn’t the only Yankees pitcher battling through a bizarre injury. Severino still doesn’t know how or why he sustained a partially torn lat while he was already on the I.L. “No idea,” is what he said when asked how his condition had worsened while he was being treated for an inflamed shoulder in March. General Manager Brian Cashman investigated the matter, but he too remains flummoxed. There is no projected date for Severino’s return.
Paxton’s timetable is less daunting. He is expected to miss only one start after receiving a cortisone injection and is now simply icing the knee and resting — “going back to square one,” he said. “Hopefully this will calm it down.”
If the Yankees are lucky, Paxton will be back in time to face the division-leading Rays this weekend. It will be the Yankees’ most important series of 2019, and even more significantly for Paxton, he will be pitching on the road. But the Yankees will return home the following week, which means Paxton will be looking to unravel the mystery sooner rather than later.
He will get help from the substitute dirt and from Rothschild’s suggestions about smoothing out his hip rotation. Then there is the time-honored remedy of simply crossing his fingers and hoping for the best.
“I hear what he’s saying about the mound,” J. A. Happ said of Paxton. “If it means using different dirt, sure. He’s a really good pitcher. Obviously we need him.”