TORONTO -- Luis Severino's absence from the Yankees' rotation could be lengthier than expected.
On Monday, after finishing his rehab assignment, the touted right-hander was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he will attempt to shrug off an underwhelming opening to his 2016 campaign.
"He's healthy, and we want to get him starting every fifth day and try to get him back on track," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's been a struggle for him this year."
Severino, 22, was essentially guaranteed a rotation spot going into Spring Training. But after pitching well in exhibition play, Severino went 0-6 with a 7.46 ERA in seven starts prior to going on the 15-day DL with a strained right triceps.
"Early on, I thought he pitched better than he did later," Girardi said. "We weren't really scoring him any runs, which can be frustrating, but we need to get him going. He's too talented to be pitching the way he has pitched."
After making his first Minor League rehab start for Class A Tampa on Sunday -- throwing 43 pitches (27 strikes) over three scoreless innings, with two hits and two strikeouts -- Severino is set to report to the Yanks' top farm affiliate.
"Feels great to be back," Severino told reporters after the outing. "My arm feels good, so that is all that matters."
Severino impressed the Yankees in 11 starts at the end of last year, going 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA. Girardi said that Severino needs to improve the command of his fastball and offspeed pitches, but he believes that Severino can return to his 2015 level of performance -- and perhaps exceed it.
"I still think the kid has a ton of talent," Girardi said. "This is not abnormal. I'll bring up a name we saw right here [in Toronto], Roy Halladay. He got sent back down, struggled, figured it out and was pretty darned good once he came back up again. So this is not unusual. This is just part of the process for young players."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.