NEW YORK — The Yankees were forced to suddenly change their pitching plans ahead of Thursday’s series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The team announced about four hours before the first pitch at Yankee Stadium that scheduled starter Luis Severino had been placed on the COVID-19 injured list and right-hander Clarke Schmidt would be on the mound in his place.

Boone said Severino, who is 4-1 with a 2.80 ERA in 11 starts this season, started feeling unwell on Wednesday night and had “fever and chills and stuff.”

At the time Boone spoke to reporters before the game, Severino had yet to test positive for COVID, but the manager expected to have more clarity on Thursday night.

Boone called Schmidt early Thursday afternoon to tell him he was going to start.

Schmidt had pitched 11 games before Thursday and boasted a 3.26 ERA going into the day.

“I think Clarke has made tremendous progress this year,” Boone said. “His shot throw has improved tremendously. Things are there. His slider has become a weapon for him. He’s got the right lead and the four seams and the big curve ball. But the slider has become the real factor for him this year. He continues to improve as a hitter.”

New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) pitches against the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning at Yankee Stadium.

Still, the changed pitch plans meant the Yankees, who don’t have a scheduled day off until July 4, were going to have to be “creative” to navigate Thursday’s game and into the foreseeable future.

Boone targeted Schmidt for about 40-50 throws.

“You have to be a little more creative and we’re in a period right now where we haven’t had a day off for a while,” Boone said. “You have to be aware of that and get a little creative. Obviously we’re playing tomorrow, the day after and the day after, so you have to keep those things in mind and piece them together a bit tonight, which will be a little more difficult.”

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That said, Boone was confident he would be able to get through the situation well.

“I also feel good about where we are as a team,” Boone said, “and as pitching staff we’re equipped to go out and not just handle it, but still handle it with a lot of expectations. .”

The Yankees signed Ryan Weber to a major league contract to fill Severino’s spot in the roster. Weber, 31, had appeared in eight games (four starts) for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and threw a 2.95 ERA.

Next step for Domingo German

New York Yankees starter Domingo German waits on the mound after the Miami Marlins' Jorge Alfaro scores on his wild field during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, July 31, 2021, in Miami.  (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Boone said right-hander Domingo German, who was on the disabled list in March with right shoulder impingement syndrome, was feeling “good” after pitching three innings of live batting practice at the the team in Tampa.

“It’s okay,” Boone said. “Now they will probably start his rehabilitation mission next time.”

Boone said Wednesday it’s possible the Yankees could build the German as a starter, but exact plans have yet to be determined.

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