The New York Yankees ace and self-proclaimed fiend of the tasty twice-fried plantains has cut them out of his diet, along with other delectable treats, in an effort to more adequately fuel his body for the regular-season grind.
"It's not easy," the Dominican-born Severino said of recent changes he's made to his eating habits. "It's tough."
Less than a month after the Yankees' 2018 season ended in an American League Division Series loss to the eventual World Series champion Boston Red Sox, Severino decided it was time to start eating differently. He believed that would help him avoid the late-season fatigue he's battled through the past two seasons.
"When you are at the finish line and you feel like you need a little bit more than five days to be ready, you know that something's going on," Severino said as Yankees pitchers and catchers reported to spring training Wednesday.
Last season, Severino pitched 191 innings, exactly two innings less than his career high set in 2017. At times down the stretch in 2018, the Yankees pushed back his starts, giving him an extra day or two to rest as they prepared for the postseason.
"Even though I feel like he was certainly healthy, he probably dealt with some fatigue issues with being a young pitcher in this league, and for the second consecutive year kind of getting around that 200-inning standpoint," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Wednesday. "But in a lot of ways, we saw the normal progression of a young star pitcher. And even though he had some struggles in the second half, he had some flashes where he pitched really well for us, righted the ship a little bit."
In two playoffs outings, Severino looked like two different pitchers. He gave four solid innings, allowing just two hits and striking out seven, as the Yankees rolled to a wild-card game win over the Oakland Athletics. A week later in the ALDS, he couldn't make it out of the fourth, allowing six runs in a 16-1 rout by the Boston Red Sox.
After that loss, the focus was on Severino's pregame routine. There were concerns that he began his warmups in the bullpen late and that it led to his being out of sync during the start. He and the Yankees denied that was the case.
Even after that, and after concerns throughout the season about Severino tipping pitches, Boone said Wednesday he could still consider the 24-year-old Severino as his Opening Day starter.
"I would say there's a very good chance of that," Boone said. "We hadn't had those kind of conversations exactly yet. But my expectation is that he would be that guy."
As for Severino's new diet, tostones aren't the only food he has started avoiding. Sweets, fast food and his other favorite, fried chicken, are out of the mix, too. Vegetables and water are the new stars at his dinner table.
"I hate eating vegetables," Severino said, smiling.
The changes have apparently had their benefits. The right-hander said he reported to camp about 12 to 15 pounds lighter, and he can already feel how the lessened load has helped.
"Where I came from, we just eat anything we see in the fridge, fried and fast food," Severino said. "But we're eating more vegetables and stuff like that, and get your body going faster and then recover fast. So that's my main stuff, focusing on my workouts and avoiding doing a lot of weights that maybe make me a lot more tired."
Severino also has made running a major part of his training routine, much like he did last offseason.
The decision to alter his eating habits wasn't one he came to lightly, nor on his own. Prior to making it, he had conversations with the Yankees' nutritionist, as well as other nutritionists in the Dominican Republic, where he trains and lives.
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