Yankees Notebook: Nestor Cortes throws 45 pitches over three simulated innings, expects to return next week

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TAMPA — After a disastrous night across the bay, there was good news for the Yankees. Nestor Cortes threw three simulated innings Saturday morning and came out expecting to be activated off the injured list next week and potentially pitch in the series against the Twins at the Stadium.

“I still have to talk to [Aaron Boone], and he just left, so I think whenever he wants. I think my 15 days are up on Monday, if I’m not mistaken, and can come off on Tuesday. Maybe somewhere along the Minnesota series,” Cortes said.

Cortes was placed on the injured list with a left groin strain retroactive to Aug. 22. He has maintained it was a slight strain and has continued throwing and even running during the IL stint.

He threw 45 pitches in three simulated innings against minor league hitters at the Yankees minor league complex. He also fielded some bunts and threw to first base. Pitching coach Matt Blake, bullpen coach Mike Harkey and Boone sat in the stands to watch.

Cortes was encouraged he can pick right up where he left off when he is inserted back into the rotation.

“The reason why I went three with 45 [pitches] was so maybe I can come back and throw four or five innings right away and have a good pitch count still up there because like I said, I never stopped throwing,” Cortes said. “So it’s not like I shut down and had to build back up.”

Cortes said he really tried to test the groin as he threw, using all his pitches.

“I was doing even the sidearm stuff because I feel like it takes a little bit more to my groin when I dropped down,” Cortes said. “So I wanted to test that out to make sure I checked every box.”

The plan going forward for now is that Cortes will throw a bullpen on Monday or Tuesday and the Yankees really could use something to go as planned.

RIZZO RESTING

Anthony Rizzo flew straight back to New York after receiving an epidural in California on Thursday, missing this series against the Rays. Aaron Boone said Saturday he may miss part of the Twins series too as he ramps back up.

“Today and tomorrow will be more down days where he’s off his feet,” Boone said. “And then [we] will ramp him up hopefully starting Monday. ... We just got to see how these next two days go.”

Rizzo had missed nine games with the back issue before going to see orthopedic specialist Dr. Robert Watkins. Since missing five games at the beginning of August, Rizzo is hitting .212/.297/.394 with three home runs and a .691 OPS.

SEVERINO ON COURSE

Luis Severino’s first minor league rehab start was interrupted by lightning, but he is still on track.

“He ended up throwing 22 pitches in the game and then finished up inside with 18 [in the bullpen] so got to 40 pitches, so he’ll make his next turn. In five days either in Somerset or Scranton,” Boone said. “I’m not sure which one depends on scheduling.”

Severino is eligible to come off the 60-day injured list five days after that and Boone said they would likely slot him back into that turn through the rotation.

“I think that’s possible. I think we’ll get through that next one and see if we want to build him up one more time or do we just put him in,” Boone said. “At that point, do we use a piggyback situation or whatever.  Hopefully next time we can get to 50 pitches or so and then we’ll kind of see where we are from there.”

Severino, who basically missed the last three seasons, had been really good. He was 5-3 with a 3.43 ERA with 95 strikeouts in 86 innings pitched when he left his start because of a “mild” lat strain. He has been insistent that he feels fine and did not need to go on the 60-day IL.