Yankees: Nestor Cortes praises Shohei Ohtani; recalls his days as a hitter

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The Los Angeles Angels are set to visit the New York Yankees for a doubleheader on Thursday, with Shohei Ohtani on the mound. The Bombers are countering with left-handed ace Nestor Cortes Jr., who has a 4-1 record and an excellent 1.70 ERA.

Ohtani, a top-notch slugger who also stars on the mound (he has a 3-3 record and a 3.45 ERA in 2022), is a unique player in today’s MLB. Nobody can do what he does: be elite at both hitting and pitching.

“I could never do what he’s doing. For Ohtani to pitch innings like Gerrit Cole, that’s impressive. His body takes a beating, too, because he hits. That’s what’s even more impressive. Honestly, I don’t know how the hell he does it,” Cortes said, per NJ Advance Media.

Ohtani is the reigning AL MVP after hitting 46 homers last year with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 130.1 innings. Against Cortes, however, he is 0-for-3, with one of the funniest moments you will ever see on a diamond:

The Yankees’ ace was once a good hitter, back in high school

Speaking of Ohtani, the Yankees’ left-hander recalled the days in which he was a hitter himself: it was at Hialeah High School.

“I was our leadoff hitter,” Cortes said. “No home runs, but a lot of doubles.” He hit .410 as a sophomore, but “to me, to be considered a good high school hitter, you have to hit at least .450.”

He said he couldn’t catch up with good fastballs, which ended up pushing him to the mound. “Anything above 88, I couldn’t hit. I faced some guys who threw 90. I couldn’t hit them.”

He won’t be asked to hit this time, and will have to deal with Ohtani’s obvious abilities as a batter once again. He will, however, be tasked with keeping the Angels’ hitters at bay.

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