Gerrit Cole will get his final preseason tuneup on Friday night when the Yankees’ prized free agent pitcher starts another intrasquad game at Yankee Stadium.
Manager Aaron Boone and pitching coach Matt Blake said they expect Cole to be limited to approximately the 84 pitches he threw on Sunday in another sharp effort, this time striking out nine teammates in 5 2/3 innings.
Cole spoke that day about how tired he was on a hot afternoon; the Yankees do not want to push him too hard this time out. He will get five days of rest before the opener against the Nationals.
Although Cole has not yet pitched in a game for the Yankees, he has looked every bit the star the team signed to a $324 million contract in the offseason.
David Cone, a YES Network analyst, former Met and Yankee and Cy Young Award winner, likes what he sees.
“I think it’s kind of the perfect storm,” he told Newsday. “He was always extremely talented. The Yankees knew that out of high school. They made him their No. 1 pick way back when; they’ve been chasing this guy forever.
“Now he’s at the perfect storm of his career in terms of where he is. His skill level has met the knowhow where he’s adapted to the new technology and it’s really helped him. Then he’s somebody who is highly motivated and highly curious.
“That’s what he brings to the table, just kind of this relentless quest for knowledge of his craft. He asks all the right questions. He wants to know about all the old-timers. He wants to know about experiences.
“Even though he’s perceived as a guy who’s benefited from the new-school technology, he wants to talk about all old-school stuff. Those are the first questions he asked me.
“He’s an impressive pitcher and an impressive person and he’s reaching his peak right now, where all those factors come into play.”