Yankees ace feels “close” to returning after first strong rehab outing

Gerrit Cole, Somerset Patriots, Yankees

The Somerset Patriots had an exciting day as the Yankees had reigning American League Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole begin his rehab assignment there. The right-hander fired 3.1 brilliant innings, working up to 45 pitches and allowing just two hits with five strikeouts. Cole dialed it up to 97 MPH multiple times and the stuff looked crisp, and while the competition is lesser than what you would see at the Major League level, it’s the sharpness and excellent feel that encourage you more than any statline.

After the game, Gerrit Cole spoke with the media where he described what was an excellent first rehab start as he took a massive step towards returning to the Bronx.

Gerrit Cole Dazzles in First Rehab Start, Return to Yankees Could Be Soon

Yankees Gerrit Cole

When the Yankees sent Gerrit Cole for an MRI on his right elbow, everyone in the baseball world feared for the absolute worst. In a season where the Yankees acquired one of the best left-handed hitters in the game, their ace could have had his entire year compromised if the results revealed a tear of the UCL, but there was a massive sigh of relief across the organization when it came out that the elbow discomfort was nerve inflammation and not any damage to the delicate ligament.

Following this brilliant start, Cole was quick to thank the Somerset Patriots and compliment the environment at TD Bank Ballpark.

“I thought it was really fun overall, it was a nice environment, it was great to get back out there and back in the flow of things. Ben [Rice] did a great job behind the plate and everyone did a great job making me feel comfortable and settling right in”

The Yankees’ ace mentioned that he mixed everything in during the outing, but in regards to how many starts exactly he’d have left before returning, Cole left it open-ended. He mentioned that there’s no urgency for him to return, even with the injury to Clarke Schmidt, emphasizing that this is a new process for him that he’s still trying to figure out.

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Gerrit Cole is taking this process “one step at a time”, and given that he hasn’t been on a rehab assignment since his days with the New York Yankees, it’s an unusual situation for him. When asked if he felt close, he wasn’t definitive but did make it clear that he felt close to returning:

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

He mentioned having to hold it back a little since the adrenaline and emotion were riding high for him during his first start back and provided a very blunt “no” when asked if there was anything that he didn’t like about the outing. How his body responds to the rehab start will determine how soon he’ll return, but this could be a situation where the Yankees get their ace back sooner rather than later.

With how well Luis Gil has pitched this season, boasting a 1.82 ERA which is the lowest mark in the AL, they’ve seemingly replaced Gerrit Cole’s production in his absence. He also spoke highly about the Somerset Patriots’ facilities, describing the weight room as the best he’s been in.

In regards to his catcher Ben Rice, he spoke very highly of the Yankees’ highly-touted catching prospect when asked about working with him:

“Ben was fantastic tonight, a lot of moving parts for him today…we were able to connect to get on the same page. I thought his targeting was great and he kept a nice level head to give an opportunity to execute all the different pitches”

It was a strong day for Ben Rice at the plate as well, as he reached base three different times including a 100 MPH single, continuing to prove that he’s one of the best hitters in the Yankees’ organization.

Gerrit Cole confirmed that he was sitting 94-97 on the fastball, which is right around where he was last season with that pitch, a very encouraging sign for him. With Somerset going on the road next week, it’s unclear when or where Gerrit Cole’s next rehab start will be, but the Yankees will certainly be delighted with what they saw tonight.

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