Yankees’ rebound candidate gets encouraging updates early in Spring Training

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Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Despite an inexplicable scare on social media regarding Nestor Cortes’ health, the Yankees are seeing plenty of positive signs early on at camp. Andy Martino of SNY reported that the southpaw was at his ‘normal velocity’ in his side sessions, hovering around 90-93 MPH which is what you would expect from the former All-Star. Aaron Boone would also add that the Yankees will not be taking it slow with him and that he is a ‘full player’ for the team right now. Last season was a disaster for Cortes, who will hope to right the ship with a healthy and productive 2024 campaign.

He’s reportedly feeling very good with his shoulder and rotator cuff, and the hope is that he can maintain that good bill of health for the season.

Nestor Cortes Aims For Bounceback Season With Yankees

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts
Feb 16, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees catcher Nestor Cortes (65) participates in spring training workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Shoulder and rotator cuff injuries are scary, and initially, Nestor Cortes was concerned that he would need to get surgery to correct the issues he had last season. Frankie Montas needed surgery in his throwing shoulder last winter, and it cost him nearly his entire season, but the Yankees will avoid that same issue for now with Cortes. Reports coming back from Tampa are showing that the 29-year-old has hit normal velocities in his side sessions, and the most important thing has been his comfort in throwing the baseball at max effort.

In an interview with Meredith Marakovits, Nestor Cortes revealed that he had been spending time at the facilities in Tampa for months, looking to get his shoulder back to where it needed to be. The early results have been fantastic, but it’s a matter of whether that will hold up for the entire season or not. Last year was a disaster for Cortes, who made just 12 starts and had a 4.97 ERA in those outings, and if the left-hander wants to be a relied-upon member of the starting rotation, he’ll need to show an ability to stay consistently healthy again.

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Aug 5, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Nestor Cortes (65) pitches in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Nestor Cortes would be the first person to tell you that last season wasn’t good enough, and a lot is riding on what he and fellow left-hander Carlos Rodon can provide in 2024. The two were All-Stars in 2022 and were among the best pitchers in baseball, but in 2023 they combined for an ugly 5.92 ERA across 26 starts. When they were healthy (which wasn’t often), they were ineffective, and that trend needs to change if the New York Yankees have any hopes of finally getting over the hump and winning the World Series this year.

Gerrit Cole publicly challenged his teammates by saying that their injury issues “have to improve”, and Brian Cashman hinted at the offseason preparation in years past being a bit of an influence on their injury woes. This team has come into camp focused and driven, and there’s a different energy in the air right now as they hope to put a painfully mediocre 2023 season behind them. Health in February doesn’t guarantee health in October, but the early signs are positive for Nasty Nestor.

The Yankees are relying on him and others to step up and provide valuable innings in 2024, and it’s a pivotal season for a myriad of names on this roster.

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