Starlin homers, Severino sharp in win vs. Jays

Starlin homers, Severino sharp in win vs. Jays

TAMPA, Fla. -- Luis Severino looked sharp in his opening bid to secure a rotation spot and Starlin Castro homered as the Yankees defeated the Blue Jays, 7-2, in Grapefruit League action Sunday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Severino worked two scoreless innings in his spring debut, permitting just a walk with a strikeout. Severino is looking to reclaim one of the Yankees' two rotation vacancies after he lost the job in the middle of last season by going 0-8 with an 8.50 ERA in 11 starts.

Severino's two hitless frames

Following up on a career-high 21 homers last year, Castro launched his first long ball of the spring in the second, a three-run home run off Brett Oberholtzer that came with Matt Holliday and Chris Carter on the bases.

"I'm just trying to come in here and try to feel better every day," Castro said. "That's why we're here in Spring Training, to get your timing and start feeling good."

Castro batted .270 in his first season with the Yankees, leading the team in hits (156), multihit games (41) and games with at least three hits (12) while tying Didi Gregorius for the team lead in RBIs (70).

"I thought he had a pretty good year last year," manager Joe Girardi said. "If we could increase his on-base percentage (.300), that would be good, but Starlin had as many clutch hits as anyone we had last year."

Oberholtzer was charged with three runs on two hits in two innings. The left-hander walked two and struck out none. Holliday added a run-scoring groundout facing Bo Schultz in the third inning, and Brett Gardner knocked an RBI single off Leonel Campos in the fifth.

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez showed off his plus throwing arm, catching two runners attempting to steal second base in the third inning. Sanchez, the runner-up for the 2016 American League Rookie of the Year Award, gunned down Jon Berti and Ezequiel Carrera with strong throws.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who will likely back up Toronto starting catcher Russell Martin, launched his first spring homer, a two-run blast off reliever Brady Lail in the sixth to cut the deficit to 5-2.

Saltalamacchia's two-run homer

Yanks right fielder Billy McKinney roped a two-run shot, his first homer of the spring, off reliever Jordan Romano in the seventh to make it 7-2.

McKinney's two-run homer

Blue Jays: Right-hander Marcus Stroman, who will be trying to build on his strong second half last season, makes his first Grapefruit League start Monday against the visiting Pirates at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 1:07 p.m. ET on MLB.TV and via an exclusive Blue Jays audio webcast. In his final 11 starts of 2016, fully recovered from ACL surgery, Stroman had a 3.28 ERA. Jose Bautista is expected to start at designated hitter and get at least two at-bats.

Yankees: The Yankees are on the road Monday, traveling to visit the Orioles in Sarasota, Fla., at 1:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV. Right-hander Chad Green will make his first spring start, with Baltimore handing the ball to right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.