Gerrit Cole is feeling ‘pretty great’ after COVID-19 IL stint

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Gerrit Cole is showing no real after-effects from his bout with COVID-19. The Yankees ace will make his second start since coming off the injured list on Saturday.

“It’s been pretty great,” Cole said of his bounce back after his start Monday. “So yeah, it’s really, it’s really nice and looks like we did a good job and I am ready to go for tomorrow.”

The Yankees ace missed 13 games on the COVID-19 IL and came back even more impressed with the Bombers’ rotation. In his absence, rookie Luis Gil stepped in and has given the Yankees three scoreless starts. Nestor Cortes has made himself an important part of the rotation and even the bullpen has stepped in to make emergency starts.

It’s made the Yankees a better team, Cole thinks.

“I think we’ve continued to just get better, I think every time we take the ball, whether the results match up with that or not, we take things from each game and learn and try to apply them in the next game,” Cole said before Friday’s game against the Twins at Yankee Stadium. “I feel like that right now, some of the results have matched up with some of the process. Whereas sometimes, maybe earlier in the year, that wasn’t quite the case.

“And so it’s been fun, it’s been fun to be a part of, it’s been a lot of good quality starts a lot of guys stepping up, when we needed them to, especially during when Jordan (Montgomery) and I were on the COVID IL,” Cole added. “So it’s been a good team effort. And it’s been good to see us just continue to progress hopefully, and be pitching our best baseball here soon.”

Over their last 40 starts, the Yankees starters own a 2.94 ERS and 226 strikeouts since July 4. That coincided with the Yankees’ fortunes turning around and they began their comeback in the standings and the playoff race.

RIZZO EASING BACK

After playing two games right off the COVID-19 injury list, Anthony Rizzo had the night off. Aaron Boone said he wanted to ease Rizzo, who admitted the virus wiped him out for most of the 10 days he quarantined, back into the grind.

“I felt like after back to back days, today was the day to give him,” the Yankees manager explained. “I’ll have him back in there in the day game tomorrow.”

Since being acquired in a deadline day trade from the Cubs, Rizzo has had a huge impact on the Yankees. The lefty hitting first baseman has nine RBI in 11 games. He’s slashing .256/.354/.487 with three home runs and an .841 OPS.

TORRES TRYING

Shortstop Gleyber Torres, who has been on the IL with a sprained left thumb since Aug. 9, tried holding a bat and taking “dry swings,” without trying to hit a ball, on Friday.

“He did dry swings with the bat. Most of the swelling was out of there and I didn’t see him swing, but I actually just spoke to him about 10 minutes ago and he said he thought it went really well,” Boone said. “So probably tomorrow will be the same thing, dry swings and some balls off the tee. But I would say it was an encouraging day today.”

In his absence, Bronx-native Andrew Velazquez has stepped in and provided the Yankees a spark on and off the field. With a New York accent and swagger, the 27-year old has been effusive about living out his childhood dream.

He’s also been impactful on the field, hitting 5-for-10 with three runs scored, a triple, four RBI and two stolen bases.

GERMAN SORE

Domingo German, who has been on the injured list since Aug. 1 with shoulder inflammation, felt “soreness,” after his last bullpen, Boone said. The Yankees were hopeful that they would have him back in their rotation soon after he was eligible to return, but it has been extended by over a week.

There had been extra concern about the 29-year old’s workload coming into this season. German, who missed all of the 2020 season serving an 81-game suspension under the league and union’s joint domestic violence policy, had already made 21 appearances (18 starts) throwing 97 innings when he was shut down.

In 2019, German threw 147 innings in his breakout 2019 season before he was suspended.

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