The first time the Yankees started spring training this year, James Paxton was fresh off back surgery and unable to do much of anything.
Spring training 2.0 is off to a better start for the left-hander.
Paxton looked sharp while throwing two innings in a simulated game Sunday, the second day of Yankees workouts in The Bronx in hopes of playing a 60-game season.
“It felt good to get back on a dirt mound,” Paxton said after striking out each of the batters he faced — Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar and Tyler Wade — at least once. “I’ve been throwing off a turf mound in running shoes for the last little while, so getting back on the dirt with the guys and facing some of our hitters, it was great. Felt good, felt healthy. It was a good first step for me.”
Paxton underwent back surgery — a microscopic lumbar discectomy with removal of a peridiscal cyst — on Feb. 5, at which point he was given a three-to-four-month timeline to return. He played catch for the first time on March 11, two days before spring training was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.
While the delay of the season was unwanted, Paxton was one of the handful of…