Yankees ace Gerrit Cole throws 3 1/3 shutout innings in first rehab start at Double-A

NEW YORK (AP) — Yankees ace Gerrit Cole pitched 3 1/3 shutout innings Tuesday night for Double-A Somerset in his first minor league rehab start since being sidelined in spring training by a right elbow injury.

The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner struck out five of the 11 batters he faced and walked none against the Hartford Yard Goats, a Colorado Rockies affiliate. He allowed two hits and threw 34 of 45 pitches for strikes.

“I’m not sure how many more we’ll need, but definitely closer rather than farther away,” Cole told reporters in Bridgewater, New Jersey. “It should be right around the corner here.”

Cole said he reached 97 mph with his fastball.

“Really great to get back out there, get back in the flow of things, get some adrenaline,” he said. “Threw all my pitches for strikes. Left a couple soft breaking balls over the plate, one was a base hit, the other one I got away with. And I was able to get the ball to both sides of the plate and get the top and the bottom of the strike zone.”

New York manager Aaron Boone, speaking before his team’s series opener against the Minnesota Twins, said Cole probably will need “at least a few” rehab outings before joining the Yankees’ rotation.

“I saw quite a bit of the first two innings before I went out and I thought he looked really sharp. Just as far as command of the fastball and getting to where he wanted to get the swing and miss,” Boone said following New York’s 5-1 victory. “So the 15 or 20 pitches that I saw looked like Gerrit. He looked sharp. Another encouraging step. We’ll see how we get through these next several days.”

There’s no specific timetable yet for his return, but Cole has said it’s possible he could be back in June.

“I’ll just let my body tell me kind of when we’re ready,” he said.

The six-time All-Star started facing hitters in simulated games last month. He threw 43 pitches last Thursday at the team’s complex in Tampa, Florida.

Cole made one spring training start, on March 1, and the Yankees announced 10 days later the 33-year-old right-hander’s elbow was ailing. He was diagnosed with nerve inflammation and edema and told to rest.

He didn’t throw off a mound again until early May, the first of five bullpen sessions leading up to his initial session against hitters.


AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

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