Gerrit Cole pitched in his first rehab game since injuring himself in spring training, throwing 45 pitches, 34 for strikes. He allowed no runs and two singles, striking out five, in a 3 1⁄3-inning appearance with Double-A Somerset. Credit: Ed Murray

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — Gerrit Cole’s No. 45 dotted the stands at TD Bank Ballpark — every seat full, fans overflowing into the standing room only area for a chance to get a glimpse of the reigning Cy Young winner on home turf.

And Cole? Well, he gave them the full experience.

Pitching in his first rehab game since injuring himself in spring training, the Yankees ace looked exactly like himself, mowing down the opposing Hartford Yard Goats in a 3 1⁄3-inning appearance with Double-A Somerset.

He allowed no runs and two singles, striking out five, all swinging, with no walks. He threw 45 pitches, 34 for strikes, and walked off to raucous applause from the 8,260 in attendance — a number far exceeding the 6,100 seats in the stadium.

Asked what he was happy with, Cole said, “Really everything.”

“I threw all my pitches for strikes. I threw a couple soft breaking balls over the plate — one was a base hit and the other one I got away with. I was able to move the ball to both sides of the plate and get to the top and the bottom of the strike zone, so that was good.”

Cole gave up a sharp single to leadoff hitter Adael Amador and (very quickly) reverted to form, striking out two of the next three batters. He threw 10 pitches in the first inning, nine for strikes, and had five fastballs ringing in at 97 mph in that frame (his average fastball velocity last year was 96.7 mph). Though Cole said the stadium’s radar gun wasn’t wholly accurate, he was told in the dugout that his fastball clocked in at 94 to 97 mph.

The plan was always for Cole to throw between 40 and 50 pitches, and the pitcher said he had more in the tank when he was pulled.

“I had a lot of adrenaline,” he said. “I had to hold a few back . . . I think the objective here is to stabilize the amount of pitches that we’ve thrown over the last two outings because we’re adapting to a new environment and you have to get outs to proceed to the next innings. There’s a little extra intensity, there’s a crowd. You just get right up to that threshold and save a few bullets for the next time.”

He’s slated for another rehab appearance here Sunday, but the exact date of his big-league return is still to be determined. Cole added that he doesn’t know if the intention is for him to be completely built up before returning to the Yankees (pitchers generally ramp up at around 10 to 15 pitches at a time, so it’s likely that his next outing will get him into the 60-pitch ballpark).

“I’m looking for him to throw the pitches that he needs, get the innings that he needs,” Double-A Somerset manager Raul Dominguez said before the game. “[When I] ask the question, how do you feel, I’m just waiting for that answer, I feel great and I’m just waiting for the next one.”

It appears he got his wish, despite a very long layoff.

Cole hasn’t pitched in a real game since getting shut down with nerve inflammation and edema in his right elbow in March, and the Yankees have been cautious with his rehab. He began playing catch in April and, a month later moved on to throwing bullpens before finally throwing live batting practice two weeks ago. He participated in a simulated game last week, throwing 43 pitches against minor-league hitters in Tampa.

“I really didn’t have any expectations” for the day, Cole said. “I just held myself to the same standard that I do when I play: executing the pregame routine well, hitting some of our goals in terms of pitch count and the ups [number of inning]. And there were some moments there to go have fun and compete, so we did that.”

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