TAMPA — It took the Yankees until last month to figure out exactly what was wrong with James Paxton’s back, which is why the left-hander didn’t have surgery until just over a week ago that figures to keep him out until May at the earliest.
Paxton said he first felt pain during his final regular-season outing against the Rangers on Sept. 27 and that he pitched through discomfort during his three outings during the playoffs.
But the issue got worse early in the offseason, which resulted in Paxton undergoing a microscopic lumbar discectomy with removal of a peridiscal cyst.
“It was pretty bad in November,” Paxton said at Steinbrenner Field on Thursday. “That was probably the worst point. We were trying to figure out what was going on. I flew back to New York and saw a back doctor.”
That led to several injections to try to remedy the issue.
“I did PT all offseason,’’ Paxton said. “It would get better and then get worse and then get better. We finally figured out what was going on and had to get it removed.”
That happened when Paxton finally underwent a dye contrast CT scan last month that identified the cyst.
“I wish I could have had it done in October, but we just didn’t know exactly what was happening then,” Paxton said. “I’d rather have it happen now than midseason and then miss a full three months of the season. This way, hopefully I’ll only miss a month or so.”
The left-hander is working on his mobility for now and has been told he can start throwing four-to-six weeks after the surgery, and if the rehab goes well, Paxton believes he could be back by May.
“I think so,” Paxton said of a potential return just over a month into the season. “Right now, I don’t really know anything. I’ll take it day-by-day.”
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